What the gov’t should look like

If the demographics of the U.S Government really represented the demographics of the U.S. Population*:

Supreme Court:

  • 5 women, 4 men
  • at least one per racial group**
    • White, non-Hispanic
    • Black/African-American
    • Hispanic/Latin@
    • Asian
    • Native American/Alaskan Native
    • Native Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander
    • Other***
  • One justice would have a disability
  • At least once justice would be LGB, and preferably another be T/I

Current gender demographics: 1 woman, 8 men
Current racial demographics: 1 African-American (a man), 8 white non-Hispanic

House of Representatives:
(Assuming 437 representatives, to amend the omission of D.C.****)

  • 248 non-Hispanic whites (124 women, 124 men)
  • 66 Latin@/Hispanic (33 women, 33 men)
  • 62 Black/African-American (31 women, 31 men)
  • 22 Asian (11 women, 11 men)
  • 31 “Other”*** (16 women, 15 men)
  • 4 Native American/Alaskan Native (2 women, 2 men)
  • 4 Native Hawai’ian / Pacific Islander (2 women, 2 men)

Current gender demographics: 75 women, 360 men.
Current racial demographics: 27 Hispanics, 5 Asian Americans, and one Native American; 402 white non-Hispanic.

U.S. Senate:
(Assuming, again, 102 senators, likewise including D.C.****)

  • 57 non-Hispanic whites (29 women, 28 men)
  • 15 Latin@/Hispanic (8 women, 7 men)
  • 14 Black/African-American (7 women, 7 men)
  • 5 Asian (3 women, 2 men)
  • 7 “Other”*** (4 women, 3 men)
  • 2 Native American/Alaskan Native (1 woman, 1 man)
  • 2 Native Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander (1 woman, 1 man)

Current gender demographics: 17 women, 83 men. Highest number of women to date.
Current racial demographics: 2 Hispanics, 1 Japanese-American, 1 Native Hawai’ian and 1 African-American (all men). 95 non-Hispanic whites.

Now, if you’re really into your number crunching and fact-checking, you’ll probably see that my numbers for white representatives (in whatever branch) are just a bit low, in comparison to the current population estimates. I started with ensuring representation for the smallest groups (Native American/Alaskan Native and Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander), rounding percentages up to the nearest percentage point, and taking those points away from the largest group, non-Hispanic whites. This is especially fair considering the historical over-representation of whites.

I also erred on the side of women for each group with an odd number of percentage points to divide, as women have also been underrepresented, especially women of color.

Thing is, this doesn’t even get anywhere near making redress for the centuries of non-/underrepresentation that women and people of color have endured in this country during its relatively short history.

As you can see from the current numbers, we have a long way to go before even reaching equal representation, let alone redress. Of course, by that time, non-Hispanic whites will no longer be a majority but a plurality, if that; maybe we’ll have a government that actually *looks* like the rest of the nation does by 2050.


* U.S. Census estimates for 2007, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States, with regards to race and gender. I haven’t figured out how to account for sexuality/orientation/gender identity yet, as they are 1) complicated and 2) not all accounted for by the U.S. Census.
**As defined by the U.S. Census, which is problematic at best.
*** This is a census category. No idea what groups this includes.
**** These proportions would change even more were one to include all U.S Territories in representation. I haven’t done, but it could be accomplished.

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5 thoughts on “What the gov’t should look like

  1. As a student of politics/journalism I can’t say that something like this is in desperate need WORLDWIDE until we can evolve to a system past democracy (is there one? Firestone seems to think socialism to communism is a good idea, and to an extent I agree with her.)

    I’m going to try and figure out the numbers for this if it were Australian, if that’s okay.

    I love this 🙂

    • Feel free to run your own numbers. I’m sure this isn’t original by any stretch. 🙂

      Another point I’m not sure I’ve made elsewhere, but that has come to my attention more than once, is that the U.S. has this big-headed idea that it’s *ahead* of so much of the rest of the world (if not all of it, natch), but that as far as equal gender representation in government is concerned, the U.S. is far more male-dominated than countries U.S. attitudes and/or foreign policy treat as lesser, whether they’re looked on with disdain or pity. I mean, Rwanda’s parliament is almost more than 50% women — the only one in the world to be so close — and the only place one hears/heard about Rwanda was in reference to the violence of recent years (as though the US wasn’t rife with violence!)

      Of course, General Opinion (that is, the one that is reflected in the makeup of our various governing bodies) might just hold that it’s far more “advanced” or “civilized” or even (gag) “democratic” to have more white-male-otherwise-privileged leaders. This would be, sadly, unsurprising to me.

      Here are the data I’ve seen on women’s representation in government:
      Women in Parliaments
      Guide to Women Leaders

      ETA: I completely botched those numbers on Rwanda. I was remembering a 50/50 split: what I last saw (late 2008) was that 45 out of 80 members of the Rwandan parliament are women.

      • The only thing that makes me madder than the fact that “women and other minorities” (how half the global population ever comes under category of minority is just beyond me) is the fact that so many people think the system of government that we have (The Australian political system is more or less a copy and paste from the British and American, as I’m sure you’re well aware) is “civilised”

        When I hear the word “civilisation” I just can’t help but think “ridiculous hierarchal structure which is biased and unfair.”

        Or maybe that’s just me.
        Thanks for those links, they make an interesting read when I’m trying to avoid doing my weekly reading for class 😀

      • YES.

        My personal euphemism-to-English translation of civilization is “that which gets me (rich white dudes) more of what I want, and makes me look good in my own estimation.” Democracy loosely translates as “bullying other countries into agreeing with me, the rich white dude nation”.

        BOTH 100% cringeworthy, at least in common usage.

  2. Pingback: Quick Hit: Political Progress « The Geek Side

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