Diversity From The Ballot Box
When asked during the Presidential primaries who he would select as his running mate, Biden did not specify, but he said it would be a woman. Lest we forget, Biden’s chief opponent during the primaries, Senator Sanders, declared the same thing.
Whether both candidates were merely pandering, as candidates are known to do, or whether either, or both, believed it truly important to infuse some diversity into the Veep slot, diversity is now a much more prevalent topic in the national conversation. Let us, then, examine the merits of diversity and its relevance in electoral politics.
Among the more important benefits of diversity is similar to the goal of the US Census: To Achieve Proportionate Representation. Proportionate representation carries with it the inherent propensity of fairness, equality and inclusion. If a given group of elected officials has a similar percentage of transgender people in its midst as exists in those it represents, it stands to reason – most will attest – the matters important to that transgender group will more likely be observed and addressed in a way that community will feel is fair. Theoretically, that same methodology should hold true for any group; however, for those groups historically disenfranchised or underrepresented, proportionate representation holds the promise of fairness, equality and inclusion historically denied.
Learning From One Another
It is not lost on the enlightened that learning is an activity, ideally speaking, that should continue for a lifetime. Possessing such an open mind, one is more likely to view that which is outside his or her comfort zone an opportunity for growth. This predisposition likely would set the stage for learning from those who are different.
To have a group of elected officials as diverse and varied as the electorate they represent would unequivocally create learning opportunities for all in the group.
As we know, our life experiences, in large part, help to form our world view. While no group should ever be judged on a monolith, it is true, however, people belonging to a particular group very often share similar experiences. Accordingly, people from different groups will generally have different experiences, and for the open-minded and enlightened, those different experiences can serve as a sort of ex parte tutorial. Put another way, we can all learn from those who have lived lives different than our own.
Even for elected officials, work environment is an important component of how well one performs his or her duties and, by extension, how happy one is at work. According to Glass Door, 67% of job seekers believe workplace diversity is an important factor when considering employment and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity
Following this train of thought, those now just beginning to embark on their career, i.e., young people, value diversity. As younger Americans continue to move more and more into careers of elected office, they will likely place greater value on diversity and, more importantly, take the necessary action to bring it into fruition. In addition to the innate benefits diversity offers our country, young people in elected positions will be creating a more suitable and more pleasing work environments going forward. Thus, the benefits of diversity in electoral politics are multi-dimensional.
We find ourselves in rather tumultuous and divisive times these days. Nevertheless, there are some long overdue conversations that we as a country are now beginning to have, in part, as a result of this tumult. Diversity is clearly one such topic about which our country is beginning to more candidly and effectively address. There are few areas of American society more desperately in need of greater diversity than our electoral politics. Though the conversations are uncomfortable and the review of history unsettling, continuing these examinations pave the way for progress. Let us continue to strive for progress and realize that greater diversity in our electoral politics will be emblematic of the progress we seek.