Imagine yourself in a room full of people and they are discussing your plans for the future. They are talking about what college you will go to, who you are going to marry, and what your future source of income will be. They say that you will go to school in North Dakota, never find the love of your life, and that you will live the rest of your life alone in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming. They stamp their future plans for you and move on to another topic. You try screaming at them that that is not the life that you want for yourself. You wanted to go to college in a big city, find your love, and become a success, but they could not hear your voice, they did not understand what you wanted for your own future. This is how millions of people across the United States feel in reference to our government. Those who are representing us do not understand all of our wants and needs, the things that we want for our future. The portrayal throughout the United States Congress is not proportionate to the people of America. According to the Census Bureau, in 2010, 50.8% of the population were female and 49.2% were male. Nevertheless, only 19% of the members of congress are women. Furthermore, in the US 61% of the population is White, 12% is Black, 18% is Hispanic, 6% is Asian, 1% is American Indian/Alaska Native, and less than 1% is Native Hawaiian/ other Pacific Islander. However, the US House and Senate combined contains 81% White members, 9% Black members, 7% Hispanic members, and 3% Asian members. Yet, this is the most racially diverse congress we have ever had and it still does not correspond with the United States population. As a result, we must ask ourselves, how does this unequal representation in the Congress affect our lives as citizens of the United States? With half of the population being female yet only one-fifth of the congress actually being women, the representation of women is severely undermined. Not only does this make women a less important topic when congress are voting but it also affects how society sees women. Exemplifying this undermining of women by Congress, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would have stripped women of basic benefits (like maternity coverage, mammograms, and domestic violence screening and counseling), cut federal funding for Medicaid (which covers half of all births), and fewer women would have had insurance due to the bill eliminating the mandate that individuals are required to have health insurance. The committee who drafted this bill consisted of 13 male, Republican Senators. There were no women in the room when this Act was drafted, so there was no input by women resulting in no thought or empathy towards half of the population of America. In addition to not being considered in decision making, women are greatly affected by the lack of representation by being seen as lesser than men. Through not having a proportionate role in congress, society tends to see women as not being able to obtain power and not wanting to take a major role in politics. As a result, men tend to overrule the government making it even more difficult for women to have their voices heard. This is not to say that women are never represented, but it is difficult enough for a man to tell when a woman is angry, even when she says it straight to his face. But not only do women suffer from unequal representation in Congress, but so do millions of other minorities. U.S. Representative Mark Pocan said, “When you look at the floor of Congress, it’s especially telling. On the Democratic side of the room, you’ve got men and women of all different races. On the other side, you’ve got a bunch of white men in dark suits, all over 55 or so. It’s such a contrast. That’s not representative of the country. We really need to get people making sure that everyone has a voice.” Proving his point, there are 94 democrats who are minorities in Congress which comprises 39% of all democrats which is proportionate to the American population. On the other hand, there are only 16 republicans who are minorities in Congress which comprises a small 5.5% of all republicans. This unequal representation of minorities in Congress mutes the voices of those who need their voice to be heard the most. In American society, it is these minorities who struggle the most and need representation in Congress so that they can have an equal fighting chance. With only one in five voting members being part of a minority, it is more difficult to get minorities’ opinions heard, valued, and carried out. Even though these people are continuously fighting to be heard, it is difficult for the wants of the melting pot to be followed through by the majority (old, white, conservative men). Despite these difficulties, the fighting for equality is beginning to show major results as newly elected members more closely resemble the population of the US. Unequal representation in Congress affects several minorities which ends up affecting the majority. Half of the population is female yet only 19% of Congress are women. Resultantly, women are minimally considered when voting for new bills. Also, females are seen as inferior by society. Racially, the unequal representation of minorities in Congress silences the fight for equality among all. Instead their need for an equal fighting chance is dismissed and ignored by a large portion of the voting members of Congress. Even though this disproportionate Congress may not affect you on a personal level, it greatly affects people all around you and their futures. Take a second to think about what it would feel like to not have your opinions valued, your wants and needs for the future met, your ideas for an equal land dismissed… Even back in 1776 America wanted all men created equal yet over 140 years later we have still not reached that equality.
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