Increasing diversity in Congress more significant than which party wins seats

The 2014 midterm election represents more changes than just which party controls Congress.

Last week’s election granted the Republican Party control of both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Contrary to the media coverage, these election results do not indicate any right-wing shift in American ideologies.

A closer inspection of the newly elected politicians, however, does reveal other substantial changes in American politics. These changes are primarily within the Republican Party, which has seen a significant growth in the diversity of its members within Congress.

Just counting the number of Americans who voted for Democratic or Republican candidates does not unveil the actual political shifts in America. According to recent Gallup polls, in midterm elections true independents tend to fail to vote in the numbers that they do in presidential elections.

Therefore, the fact that Republicans took more Senate and House seats than Democrats falls short of indicating any ideological changes in America. The actual political stance of moderate voters remains unknown.

However, there were still several historic events that took place on election night, many of which have been unfortunately overshadowed by the media’s obsession with the number of seats controlled by each party.

The first of these historic events is that both the Senate and the House of Representatives are now significantly more diverse. There will now be 29 Americans with Latin-American descent serving in Congress, a number that is higher than any other time in American history. Also, for the first time in United States history, there will be over 100 women serving between the two Congressional Houses.

Even more striking and relevant is the fact that the recent achievement of electing the most diverse Congress in the history of the United States was only possible through the elections of Republicans with a wide range of backgrounds. This is significant because the Republican Party has in recent times fallen short in diversifying their candidates and members.

Examples include Republican Tim Scott, who was recently elected senator of South Carolina. Scott will be the first African-American senator representing a southern state since the 1870s. Also, newly elected congresswoman Mia Love, from Utah, will be the first African-American Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, as well as the first Haitian-American to hold a Congressional seat.

Milestones like these indicate that in 2014, the Republican Party and its coalition have finally begun to incorporate and embrace “all” people rather than just the “stereotypical Republican.” Proof of this also lies in the (unsuccessful) campaign of Carl DeMaio, an openly gay Republican, in California.

Looking forward, this change in the Republican Party has positive implications for American politics. It appears there will no longer be only one major party in American politics that elects leaders from a wide demographic. Now, both Republicans and Democrats will contribute to diversity at the state and federal level. Also, minorities who have liberal or conservative ideologies will no longer feel alienated from a particular party.

In addition to a more diverse Congress, Republican Party and Republican voters, the average age of the newly elected Congress has been significantly lowered. Newly elected U.S. Senators are on average 16 years younger than the Senators being replaced. The average age of new representatives serving in the House has also fallen, and includes 30-year-old Republican Elise Stefanik from New York.

Radical changes like these show that American voters, Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, were clearly upset with older, established politicians in their respective parties. Therefore, as opposed to what many pundits on the national media have claimed, it is more accurate to assume Americans may be just upset with the status quo of their parties rather than simply the Democrats in office.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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