Cord Jefferson at GOOD Magazine posted this impressive infographic:
Go here to see a larger version.
The basic idea is mapping what Congress would look like if it actually represented the United States based on gender, race, political affiliation and religion.
Unsurprisingly, the only place that even gets close to actually reflecting our reality is political affiliation. But even in that category, there are a significantly larger number of Republicans currently in Congress than there should be, and WAY fewer independents (the gray dots in the center graphic above) than there should be.
Gender parity is one of the most egregious of the disparities–we should have 127 more female reps in Congress than we currently do (that’s a two fold increase from current numbers).
We fail pretty big on race as well, where 72 of the current 457 seats occupied by white representatives should go to communities of color based on population numbers.
In terms of religion, Mormons are overrepresented in Congress as well as Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Underrepresented are Hindus and those who are unaffiliated.
These disparities are not a surprise, but are extremely upsetting when you consider that these folks are making decisions that affect all of us. Identity and demographics are not everything, but they have an important impact on how people govern and whose interests they prioritize. It’s also proof that our democracy is still governed by an elite group of politicians who don’t reflect the broad diversity of our country.
What I would love to see is a chart representing the voting population broken down by these same characteristics, and of the people making donations to political campaigns. I think those two sets of data would provide the explanation for much of the disparities we see above.