A Representative Congress In A Essay, Research Paper
The question of whether the Congress is representative towards the American public has been a longstanding question that has become the spotlight of numerous political debates. Many people believe that with a membership of nearly all-white males from a higher social status in society, it is nearly impossible for a true representation to occur. This is a mistake. The Congress is a fair representation of the American public. With the use of a bicameral legislature that serves both public sentiment and national interests, congressional voting that is representative of its constituents, and the power to vote, congressional representation is indeed met.
One of the most controversial issues regarding the representation of the Congress is how the lack of minorities and women in membership affect a true representation of the American public. For much of the life of Congress, the membership has been comprised completely of white males. However, with the surface of the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of a diverse America, membership in the Congress has begun to change. There are now African Americans, women, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians that are all members of Congress. Many women used to gain membership into Congress by becoming widows, however, today almost all are elected officials and this trend is on the rise. Nevertheless, white males continue to dominate the majority. Does this mean that representation is still unequal? The answer is no. Regardless of race, culture, and gender differences, members typically make their choices in accordance with their constituents. For example, although most of the African American members vote liberal, this does not necessarily mean that African Americans are all liberal. Rather, these members represent districts that are liberal. This means that voting tendencies don t rely on race; rather they rely on the views of their districts. If a district is liberal, it s only proper for their congressman to make more liberal decisions as well. Thus, if Congress membership were based on racial, ethnic, and gender representatives, they would vote in a similar fashion that the Congress of today does. Basically, in spite of the fact that white males dominate the majority of Congress, women and racial minorities vote in the same manner. This manner is representing their constituent s views. This proves that it is unnecessary to form a Congress based on gender and racial characteristics.
Another issue surrounding the representation of Congress pertains to how representation should be handled. Some say that it is the responsibility of the Congress to act in accordance with the views of its constituents. Still, others believe that members of the Congress have earned the responsibility to act on their own decisions and upon what they deem to be the most important issues. The best way to solve this problem is to meet somewhere in the middle. One must realize the fact that members of Congress are responsible and educated individuals, if they weren t they wouldn t be in Congress. However, as a representative for a district, it is also the responsibility of the member to deal with the issues important to the district. Therefore, by dealing with the issues of the public and having the responsibility to act on their own judgment, members of the Congress are able to represent the American public in a more beneficial manner.
The issue of congressional representation also depends on three important factors: home style, name recognition, and midterm elections. In a nutshell, home style is the manner in which members of Congress present themselves to the voting public. The reason why home style is important to understand is that if a member of Congress is especially good at it, he/she has a significant advantage over other nominees running for office during an election. Many politicians make home style one of their personal goals in order to gain extra votes. If someone s home style is really good, they can gain the votes from voters who might not even agree with their political views. This can obviously have a dramatic impact on representation because the views of the district could easily be contradictory to the views of their congressman.
A similar factor to home style, name recognition also plays a fundamental role in the voting process and in turn, the representation of a district. Name recognition is important because when someone enters a poll booth and they only see a few names they recognize, those are going to be the ones they vote for. A worst-case scenario occurred in the movie The Distinguished Gentleman where a con-artist used the name of a recently deceased member of Congress to win an election that sent him straight to Washington. Obviously this is a stretch from reality but it represents the power of name recognition. The third factor, midterm elections, is somewhat different than the other two. Midterm elections occur during a president s term in office. If public sentiment towards the president is negative during a midterm election, running officials that are members of the same party as the president have a decreased chance of becoming elected. This is important to remember because it represents the sentiment of the public at a specific point in time, which may just be a short-term feeling. As a result, officials are elected that might not represent the overall feeling of the public. One recent example occurred during the Clinton presidency. Public approval was extremely low and this was evident by the voting that took place during the 1994 midterm elections where the public voted in the largest amount of Republicans in years.
All in all, the American public holds the deck of cards because it has the power to vote. Just because the majority of congressmen are white males doesn t mean that the country is misrepresented. If the United States deemed it necessary to implement a Congress that represented all people of the public, where would it end? Who would get representation and who wouldn t? Would the uneducated have representation? This is unfair. Why in the world would we put someone with no credentials other than the fact that he/she represents a specific sector of society? Being a member of Congress is a job. In the real world, if you lack the credentials, you don t get the job. So why should this differ in Congress especially since it is one of the most important decision making branches in the United States. What about homosexuals, the blind, vegetarians, etc.? These are all communities within the United States. It s simply not feasible to implement a Congress of complete descriptive representation. Equal representation doesn t imply good representation. The members of Congress base their decisions and actions on where their districts interests are and that certainly equals clear representation.