Diversity in the 116th US Congress

In ITMC, Dickovick and Eastwood describe the nature of social movement mobilization, party organization based on identity, and ways that institutions can empower marginalized groups. Mainly, social movements provide a group with shared interests organization and direction. Ethnic parties are formed because of shared interest based on demographics, a society’s culture of ethnic affiliation, the nature of political competition, and the historical treatment of the ethnic groups. Governments ensure minority representation by quota systems and designing institutions that aid in empowerment.

In the United States, the 116th Congress was sworn into their new roles in early January, making it the most diverse Congress in American history. According to Emily Moon at the Pacific Standard, women in Congress are historically more focused on protecting the rights of minorities. In addition, women are more productive, introducing an average of 26 more bills than their male counterparts. The article also claims that women are more bi-partisan legislators and that they place more emphasis on government transparency than male legislators.

 

Are quota systems necessary to ensure minority representation and empowerment?

 

America, like above, showed that some gender progress can be made without the institution of quotas or outside selection of candidates. However, in other democracies, like Mexico, the quota system can be a powerful tool to ensure equality. Half of all candidates that run for office in Mexico must be female, and now a substantial portion of their legislature is female. In authoritarian regimes, selection of candidates is often used as a tool to make sure the population does not have the freedom to oust the regime (like Putin’s jailing of political opponents, for example). However, the opposite can be said for democratic quota systems that protect the voices of marginalized groups.

 

Sources:

Dickovick, J. Tyler, and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. p337-346.

Moon, Emily. “The 116th Congress Is the Most Diverse Ever. How Will That Affect Legislation?” Pacific Standard. January 04, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://psmag.com/news/the-116th-congress-is-the-most-diverse-ever-how-will-that-affect-legislation.

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