Why Doesn't Washington Look Like Me?

We all make biased decisions. And if you say “not me” you’re lying. So what I don’t understand is why those that represent America aren’t actually more….representative. Perhaps it is because campaigns have gotten so out of hand and a typical lower or middle class person with a modest or poor living would not stand a chance running a successful one. So then their voice isn’t heard over those with more fundraising capabilities.
Earlier last month the House of Representatives passed a bill by 217-200 in favor of cutting food stamp benefits.
Eliminate food stamps? Sure!! That’s a great way to save some money and we don’t REALLY have to think about the ramifications when we are an upper or middle class citizen. Do you think if you had someone in the House of Representatives that was ON food stamps right now that conversation would have gone differently?
Cutting food stamps would save us $39 billion over 10 years – but it would impact 4 million Americans on the program. Most of which are children, elderly or disabled. 1 in 7 Americans profit from this program. And 15% of Americans today live in poverty. (All this directly ripped off of the BBC here)
Now, I am not arguing anything against or for that actual bill – it’s probably been vetoed/destroyed/shot down/killed by now – what I am arguing is that stuff like this wouldn’t even end up on the table, or would certainly have a deeper and richer conversation, if our representatives were actually “representative”.
Do you think a governmental shut down would happen for this long if Congress had been forced to take a break from their pay? Or been forced to take furlough? Okay, some of them have voluntarily done this, so let me phrase it a different way – do you think the shutdown would last this long if taking no pay wasn’t an option for them? If they weren’t in such a fantastic place financially (with over half on congress being millionaires) that they are able to look charitable by forgoing they pay they “should be getting”?
The decisions they make don’t impact them in the same way it does those it trickles down to, which is why they are able to so quickly make them. And I understand that they believe they are speaking for their constituencies – but sometimes I wonder if we got a better representation of what America actually is with more diversity of economic status, race, disability, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.; then we would get vastly different decisions and conversations coming out of congress. We all have bias – that’s why we need those different from us to help balance us out – make sure we’re seeing with proper perspective. I don’t think our congress has that. At all.
For other interesting reading:
Congress Millionaires Club 

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