Now more than ever, candidates are breaking the traditional mold in terms of who is represented in governmental positions of power.
The percentage of minority groups in government positions does not reflect the percentage of minorities in the country. Women, as well as racial and ethnic minorities, make up more than half of the country’s population, but are underrepresented among the nation’s leaders.
The current Congress is more diverse than ever, but is still lacking in appropriate representation of minorities. Candidates such as Kamala Harris, Gina Ortiz Jones, Madeline Eden and Mondaire Jones are aiming to change these statistics by being elected into office this November. This year’s voting ballot is cited to be the most diverse in U.S. history with hundreds of female and LGBTQ candidates — something that is deeply meaningful to many Aggies.
Political science junior and off-campus student senator David Garcia said diversity is important in government because it means people from all backgrounds and walks of life have a voice in creating and enacting laws and policies.
“Everyone needs to be represented so that there’s less inequality and division in our country,” Garcia said. “The U.S. is composed of people from different backgrounds, and seeing more diverse individuals running for various positions is a reflection of that.”
According to a 2019 analysis by the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of Congress is white, while only 61 percent of the population identifies as non-Hispanic white, but some racial and ethic groups are proportionally reflected in government positions. For example, 12 percent of the House members are Black, which is around the same percentage of Americans who are Black, and 1 percent of the House is Native American, which is equal to the percentage of the populations that identify as such.
The issue of inadequate representation lies in the percentage of Hispanic and Asian Americans serving in the House of Representatives. The Hispanic and Asian population comprise 18 percent and 6 percent of the U.S. population respectively, but are only represented in the House at 9 percent and 3 percent.
Garcia said he hopes the diversity on the ballot brings significant changes for underrepresented groups.
“It truly means a lot to me because I feel that the Hispanic community, along with other minorities, have been ignored,” Garcia said. “[This] gives me hope that things will change for the better.”
Computer science sophomore and technical marketing director for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, Nathan Purwosumarto, said the increase in opportunities for minorities to participate in government is a step in the right direction.
“I believe that multiculturalism is one of America’s greatest strengths, and having diversity represented in government is a personal inspiration for myself and many others in SASE,” Purwosumarto said.
According to the Pew Research Center, the 116th Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse, which shows a trend. Each of the last four Congresses have been more racially and ethnically diverse than the previous Congress.
Purwosumarto explained that having candidates who are aware of different ideas and cultures can help them stay connected to their constituents.
“By having diversity in government, policymakers are able to better represent and understand varying perspectives within American society, which, in turn allows them to make more informed decisions for our nation,” Purwosumarto said.
Biological and agricultural engineering senior and president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Anais Baca emphasized the importance of a ballot that represents all.
“With over 60 million Hispanics in the U.S., having diversity in our government is more important than ever,” Baca said. “By having the leadership truly represent the people, the needs of all are addressed.”
Sarah Akhtar, Class of 2020, said diversifying leadership gives minority groups representatives that advocate for their unique issues.
“There are instances and circumstances that occur every day that a majority of the people that run our government cannot and will not ever be able to understand,” Akhtar said. “Being able to have diversity in our government ensures that minorities and people who cannot fight for themselves have an option to exercise their freedoms and can lean on someone who can help them defend those freedoms.”