Last night Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to lead the Democratic party ticket in Georgia when she won the state primary there. One of the major reasons I am proud to be a Democrat is our commitment to diversity and the diversity of our candidates. We believe that politics needs to be a big tent where all are welcome to help diversify perspective and ideas for policy and law development. But we still have a long way to go. Politics in general is far to white and male to be productive. However, that seems to be changing for the D’s.
In a report published last year by the Reflective Democracy Campaign an analysis of who is in office for each party found a striking difference between the D’s and the R’s. While white men only make up 30% of the population in the United States, they make up 73% of all elected Republicans. While the number is still too high for Democrats the number is a more reasonable 47%. That equates to a +43 for R’s and a +17 for the D’s. This is important because most of what we know about collaboration and group dynamics tells us that the more diverse your group is the better decision making happens. The good news is that for both parties women are increasingly becoming more common nominees and to take office. That is good news. For both Republicans and Democrats 2016 saw the most women elected into office in history and 2018 should be even better.
However, when you take into account candidates of color there is no room at the Inn for Republican candidates of color. While a still too low percentage of 26% of Democratic elected officials are of color an embarrassing 3% are Republican elected officials. This is just unacceptable. Our voters deserve better. My hope is when I see candidates like Stacey Abrams win in Georgia I wonder if we are finally turning the corner? Maybe, but we cannot just wait for it to happen.
There is no question I am a lifelong Democrat and I make no apologies for that. But equity will only truly happen if Republicans shift their focus from more monochromatic policies which generally favor those in power and privilege and diversify their party. I know there are lots of voters of color who would skew more conservative if that really meant a core of fiscal responsibility, smaller government, and centrist policy making but that does not seem to be the case. A more diverse Republican party could make Washington a better place to be.
So this fall I am going to go with diversity. Even if those candidates might not agree with my politics. I am not saying I will vote for a candidate solely on race or gender but let’s say I will be far more open to that if the candidate helps to diversify our state and national governments. So, here’s to Stacey Abrams and all of the candidates out there trying to add some diversity to the boys club. I may not always like your politics but I will love to see you in office creating the change and synergy we need.