Why Representation Matters In Politics
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
When it comes to politics in the United States, it can’t be denied that the majority of the political representation at all levels of our government--from local city offices to congress and even the White House--has largely comprised of a very specific demographic in our country, namely white men, and women, people of color, and other demographics have largely been excluded from American politics. American politics has traditionally been exclusive rather than inclusive, ever since the founding of our democracy, and this exclusivity has historically prevented minority and marginalized groups in the United States from having equal power and say, and from having their voices heard. Political Organizations Minneapolis-St Paul MN
Here are just some of the many reasons why representation--and, specifically, the representation of women of color in our political system--really matters:
A Seat At The Table
It perhaps goes without saying that not having a seat at the table--“the table” referring to any position or place where decision-making happens at all levels of our society, from local communities all the way up to the White House---more or less guarantees that your voice will not be heard when it comes to politics. And the groups that are often the most disadvantaged in our country also tend to be, uncoincidentally, the groups that have historically been denied the right and opportunity to have a seat at the table, namely, women and people of color, who, even to this day, do not have their fair share of representation in American politics.
Women account for more than half of the population in America, but only represent roughly 25% of the political seats and offices held in the United States--and the number of women of color in office is even more disproportionate and doesn’t come close to the percentage of women of color who live in America. Having a seat at the table is not only important for fairness reasons, but it also helps to ensure that no one’s voice is being ignored and that the people who are most affected by certain issues and policies are the ones who are negotiating and helping to craft those policies so that we can have a political system that works for everyone rather than just for some people and not others.
Creating Trust In Our Political & Governmental Institutions
Another reason why having equal and fair representation in our government and politics is so important is because it helps to instill trust in the people and will make them more likely to trust our political and governmental institutions. When you have only a specific demographic of people in power and who are making all of the decisions on both a local and a national level, it’s normal for people who don’t identify with the people they see in office and making the decisions to become disengaged and disinterested and, what’s more, to become distrustful of the political system and our country’s fundamental and basic institutions. By having a ruling body that accurately represents our communities and our country, people will be more likely to trust and have faith in our government and institutions.
The “Role Model Effect”
Lastly, what’s more, something we have been seeing especially within the past few years--and particularly since the 2018 midterm election--is the “role model effect” due to the record number of women of color running for office and winning. It’s difficult for women, and particularly women of color, to be civically and politically-engaged when they don’t see anyone like them representing them. However, with more women of color winning elections in recent years, young girls and women are becoming more civically-engaged and are even being inspired to run for office themselves.
This is important because the historical lack of representation of women and people of color in our political system has made it difficult for younger generations of women to envision themselves as being a part of our government and politics. However, with more women of color holding political office and inspiring younger generations, more and more women are looking to get involved in politics and to make our political system one that is fair and equitable for everyone.
To learn more about how to get involved in politics, run for office, or simply to become more civically-engaged, feel free to contact your local political nonprofit organization in Minneapolis-St Paul MN, Ayada Leads, today!
If you’re interested in learning more about politics and civic engagement, or are thinking about running for political office, feel free to contact us today, or click here for more information about the programs and events we offer.
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