How important is diversity in politics? Are we paying enough attention to political diversity?
Diversity in the United States has been growing, but our nation’s elected officials do not exactly reflect this.
According to the article, “Why Diversity is Important,” by Inclusive America, 93 percent of all candidates running for federal government were white and 80 percent were male. Inclusive America believes that diversity and inclusion in government results in an increase in political efficacy. Political efficacy is defined by Inclusive America as, “the belief that one’s civic participation leads to meaningful social change, further stabilizing our democratic processes.”
According to Inclusive America, diversity in politics is important for several reasons, one being that it boosts political efficacy. If diversity in politics is important and our country is continuing to diversify, why is it that the field of politics is dominated by white people, specifically white men? This could be due to minorities feeling as if their vote does not matter, or it may be harder for minorities to vote and get involved in politics.
In an article titled, “Why Minority Voters Have a Lower Voter Turnout: An Analysis of Current Restrictions” by Sarina Vij from the American Bar Association, Vij discusses some reasons why minorities are not as involved in voting.
“Voter ID laws have underlying racial biases and prevent minorities from engaging in active democratic participation,” wrote Vij. “Proponents advocate for the law under the guise of preventing voter fraud and ensuring that only voter-eligible citizens partake in elections; however, individuals who lack government-issued identification are more likely to be younger, less educated, and impoverished, and—most notably—nonwhite.”
Voter ID laws are not the only obstacles that may hold minorities back from voting. In some instances, voting sites are located in areas that make it more difficult for minorities to vote, or for their vote to count.
“Minorities have a lower voter turnout compared to whites and, in many cases, this has resulted in discriminatory polling place distributions,” wrote Vij. “Disparities in polling places can also be the result of a change in the majority of election officials; minority populations are more likely to be left-leaning and, as a result, officials may shift polling locations to areas that are more representative of their political ideals.”
Others are upset at the lack of options when it comes to voting for federal positions because of our two-party system. With how our political system works, we mainly give the spotlight to the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Think back to the debates we had for the 2020 election. They were between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and there weren’t any candidates from third party groups to give their opinions and get their names out there.
“I think that the two-party political system is insane because what it has resulted in is a radicalization of views,” said Charles Marvel, a student attending East Tennessee State University (ETSU), “the problem with the two-party system, as I’ve seen it, is you can’t have a third-party support because it inevitably breaks up one of the larger parties. So third parties aren’t seen as legitimate parties, they’re seen as vote stealers.”
As Marvel said, the two-party system has caused a radicalization of views, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Others have picked up on the growing divide between the two parties, and some are calling for a shift from our two-party system.
In the article, “Let a Thousand Parties Bloom,” by Lee Drutman, Drutman argues that we should scrap the two-party system because of the divide it has caused between the Republican and Democrat Parties.
“Under the two-party system, U.S. politics is stuck in a deep partisan divide, with no clear winner and only zero-sum escalation ahead,” wrote Drutman. “Both sides see themselves as the true majority.”
While there are some people that are expressing a desire to move away from our two-party system, it seems unlikely that we will be scrapping it anytime soon.
“In order to have an electoral system that would allow third party candidates to be more viable, there are a few things that could happen; we would need to overhaul the electoral college and that of course would require either a very significant constitutional amendment or just throwing the whole thing away and starting with a new one,” said Wesley Wehde, a political science professor at ETSU, “both of these would require a level of political support that is just hard to imagine, at least today.”
While we might not be able to make any huge changes overnight, the participation of diverse groups in American politics is essential in order to change the current narrative.