Despite Recent Diverse Election Wins, the Majority of Western Politicians Are Still White Males
It’s true, the 2018 US mid-term elections were indicative of a more inclusive future in politics, with politicians who actually represent the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of their districts winning. Examples include Jahana Hayes, a former high school teacher elected as the first black woman in Connecticut to the House of Representatives. And then there were Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, becoming Texas’s first-ever Latina women in Congress.
Over the pond in the UK, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women serving in government, with the country electing more women to parliamentary positions in 2017 than ever before.
But, despite the lofty headlines and hopeful rhetoric, it’s important that we still acknowledge the blaring gap between the identity of our elected officials and the people they represent.
The Picture is Still That of White Males
In the US, despite white men only comprising 31% of the population, 97% of all Republican elected officials are white, and of them 76% are male. Of all Democratic elected officials, 79% are white and 65% are male.
The UK isn’t doing much better. As of the most recent 2015 election, only 29% of the House of Commons is comprised of women. The same principle holds true for other major Western countries, where white men still make the decisions for the majority of people.
The Massive Representation Problem
It’s extremely challenging, perhaps impossible for a 65-year-old white male to understand the wants, needs, and requirements of an 18-year-old woman from Cuban-African descent. Our governments do not accurately reflect the civilian population, which means there is a sizeable disconnect between the policies that are being passed, and what the population actually needs.
In order to preserve themselves, their paychecks and their status, too many of our politicians are keeping a hold on their positions. Therefore, this kind of disconnect is fueling an uprising in extremist policies that appeal to people’s disenfranchisement. In turn, the more extreme our political parties become, the wider our electorate spreads, making our once sound democracy a fragile and sensitive entity today.
What’s the Solution?
Government representation, quite simply, has to reflect the people that it represents. More non-Caucasian candidates need to be offered safe seats, more women too, and more people need to get involved in grassroots movements that can give rise to these changes.
I make the case for technology, which can be everywhere at all times, spreading this education and working in conjunction with our aims to make a difference. This “Broken Contract” is no longer working, but together, we can all do something about it.