One-sided di­ver­sity

Porterville Recorder - - OPINION - Michael Car­ley A Dif­fer­ent Drum Michael Car­ley is a res­i­dent of Porter­ville. He can be reached at mcar­[email protected]

The new 116th congress will be the most di­verse in Amer­i­can his­tory. And it in­cludes sev­eral firsts. Let’s start on the Demo­cratic side. Ac­cord­ing to a com­pi­la­tion by the Wash­ing­ton Post, they will now fea­ture more women than ever: 89. The Demo­cratic cau­cus in­cludes 90 white men, 55 non-white men, 48 white women, and 41 women of color. Those 90 white men just be­came 91 as nearby Cal­i­for­nia district 21 just flipped to the Demo­crat, the last race to be de­cided.

It also in­cludes the first two Mus­lim women. LGBT Amer­i­cans also had a few firsts. Sev­eral new mem­bers won’t be the first from their de­mo­graphic in the coun­try, but the first their state has ever had, such as the first Latina from Texas and the first black woman from Mas­sachusetts.

In­ter­est­ingly, of the women elected this year, a ma­jor­ity are for­mer girl scouts, a vote of con­fi­dence in the lead­er­ship devel­op­ment ef­forts of that pro­gram. All three fe­male Sec­re­taries of State, from both ma­jor par­ties, are for­mer girl scouts.

The con­trast be­tween the par­ties though, could not be more stark. While the pro­por­tion of white men in the Demo­cratic cau­cus ap­pears to be de- clin­ing slightly to about 38 per­cent, get­ting a bit closer to their pro­por­tion in the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion, the Re­pub­li­can cau­cus will ac­tu­ally be less di­verse than in re­cent mem­ory, 90 per­cent white and male.

There is a ques­tion con­fronting Amer­i­cans of all par­ties. We are a di­verse na­tion, whether peo­ple like it or not. Should our na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­flect that di­ver­sity? Should the peo­ple who lead us come close to the de­mo­graph­ics of the pop­u­la­tion they are sup­posed to speak for? No group re­cruits can­di­dates--or should--solely or pri­mar­ily on that ba­sis, but it ap­pears that one party is edg­ing closer to na­tional di­ver­sity while the other is mov­ing the other di­rec­tion.

Con­sciously or not, there is a per­spec­tive in this coun­try that lead­er­ship nat­u­rally falls to white, het­ero­sex­ual, Chris­tian men, with all oth­ers in a sub­or­di­nate po­si­tion. Some peo­ple feel more com­fort­able with things that way and it has been that way for most of our his­tory. Even the newly di­verse Democrats haven’t kept up with the di­ver­sity of the na­tion, but they’re closer than their col­leagues.

Mia Love, a Re­pub­li­can, African Amer­i­can con­gress­woman from Utah who just lost her seat tells her Re­pub­li­can col­leagues, “…we need to let peo­ple know we care…they need to like Repub­li­cans.” It isn’t just about pol­icy, Love said (though this dis­par­ity partly is), but the fact that “Democrats make them (mi­nori­ties and women) feel like they have a home” and Repub­li­cans don’t.

How would women feel they have a home in a party of al­most all men in which the leader brags about sex­ual as­sault? How would mi­nori­ties feel at home vot­ing for a party that in­cludes the likes of Steve King and ran sev­eral neo-nazis this cy­cle? Repub­li­cans across the coun­try keep mak­ing racist com­ments with hardly a peep from party lead­ers.

How would Mus­lims feel at home in a party whose leader wants to ban them from trav­el­ing to this coun­try? How would Jews vote for a party that in­cludes Se­bas­tian Gorka? Should LGBT peo­ple vote for the party that in­cludes Mike Pence, who pro­motes con­ver­sion ther­apy?

Some peo­ple see no prob­lem, think­ing that the Democrats are just be­com­ing the party of women and mi­nori­ties and Repub­li­cans the one of white men. There are two prob­lems with this per­cep­tion. First, Democrats aren’t the party of women and mi­nori­ties. They are a di­verse party in which white men aren’t just in­cluded, they’re still some­what over­rep­re­sented as com­pared to their pro­por­tion in the pop­u­la­tion.

The other prob­lem is that such a sit­u­a­tion will never lead to di­verse rep­re­sen­ta­tion, at least as long as Repub­li­cans re­main a ma­jor party. You can­not build a di­verse na­tional party pri­mar­ily on one de­mo­graphic, par­tic­u­larly one that is de­clin­ing as a pro­por­tion of the na­tion. The only way this works is if we con­sider white, het­ero­sex­ual Chris­tian male over­rep­re­sen­ta­tion a per­ma­nent and nat­u­ral fea­ture of our po­lit­i­cal struc­ture. That isn’t the na­tion I want. Is it yours? --For those still watch­ing the lo­cal nail­biter elec­tion in the Porter­ville City Coun­cil District One, be aware that it didn’t have to be this way. There were three can­di­dates and if the city used in­stant runoff vot­ing--some­times called ranked choice vot­ing--the re­sults might well have been dif­fer­ent.

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