Week in Review 4-26-2019
Increasingly, Americans feel that Congress does not represent them very well. In fact, it has become more and more common to hear people say that we have become two separate America’s. Pollster and political consultant Mark Mellman reflected on that in a column this week. Here are some excerpts that may interest you:
A poll by YouGov reported that only 25% of respondents felt people like them were even somewhat well represented, with 60% saying they were not well represented.
- Two-thirds of American adults do not have a bachelor’s degree, but only 3% of Congress falls into that category.
- About 12% of Americans are African American; over 10% of Congress is African American.
- Latinx Americans comprise about 17% of those of voting age; only 8% of Congress is Lantix.
- Women comprise over half of the country, but only make up about a quarter of the House and Senate.
In our hyperpartisan politics of today, lawmakers tend to vote 97 percent of the time with their party in so-called ‘safe’ districts, and about 93 percent in more competitive districts. One study goes on to show that legislators’ votes reflect the positions of their constituents 60 percent of the time, an average just a bit better than flipping a coin.
Why are members not voting their constituents’ views? Many constituents, per Mellman’s column, legislators are listening to special interests and lobbyists over the concerns of their constituents. But, it seems that more often than lobbyists, lawmakers are listening to party leaders to determine their positions. It is difficult to dissent from one’s colleagues in today’s hyperpartisanship, and as a result, it rarely happens. Less obvious to constituents is the lack of awareness of those on Capitol Hill for district opinion on many issues.
So while we may not completely understand why Congress does not seem to be representing the country as a whole, the view that they aren’t is not farfetched.
These findings make it all the more imperative for each of us to keep calling and expressing our positions on legislation and issues. We must make our lawmakers hear what our positions are, the values and needs of their constituents, over those of the party leaders.
Read the full article here. https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/440326-mellman-how-well-does-congress-represent-america