We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

HEALTHY DIVERSITY in our 113th Congress!

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John Eyster
Friday, January 4, 2013

HEALTHY DIVERSITY in our 113th Congress!

My AUDACITY of HOPE for the 113th Congress has been enhanced by the HEALTHY NEWS that this congress is the MOST DIVERSE in history! What do YOU think?

I read with MUCH excitement and appreciation the Washington Post’s feature article, “The 113th Congress is the most diverse in history”! I encourage YOU to read this article.

My favorite picture is the one with the article showing Henry Gillibrand playing his mother’s hair! She is newly elected Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The picture is from the mock swearing-in ceremony for the 113th Congress with Vice President Biden in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill following the official swearing-in on the Senate floor. This is a PHOTO OP taken of every NEWLY ELECTED SENATOR. There is a whole collection of pics from the convening of the 113th Congress – HOUSE and SENATE – you can use this link to see the album, “113th Congress sworn in: House and Senate usher in new members alongside long-serving legislators.”

You can use this link to see pic #6 featuring our own newly elected WI US Senator TAMMY BALDWIN with Vice-president Biden at the mock swearing-in ceremony.

I am very happy to read this report as to the way in which WE THE PEOPLE of the US have voted for persons who reflect the real DIVERSITY of our culture! The article reports, “A record number of women and racial minorities were elected to the 113th Congress, which was sworn in Thursday. Among them was the first Buddhist to join the Senate, as well as the first Hindu and the first openly bisexual woman in the House.”

I consider it VERY HEALTHY NEWS that House Democrats became the first caucus in the history of either chamber not to have a majority of white men! I agree with the assertion of the article that this is a watershed moment for the Democratic Party, which has adopted diversity as one of its chief selling points and has marketed itself as the party that looks more like a fast-changing United States. Do YOU agree?

UNforunately, I think, it is SAD that the report does clarify that the overwhelming majority of lawmakers sworn in Thursday were white men and continues, “But the new Congress, while still lagging behind the nation as whole in diversity, reflects national demographic changes that hold significant implications for American politics.” MORE & MORE DIVERSITY? I HOPE SO! Do YOU?

Let’s be sure to highlight the point made in the article that Republicans, too, see the value of diversity and have sought to highlight changes in the GOP. The article states, “When Jim DeMint (S.C.) recently stepped down from the Senate, for instance, he was replaced by Tim Scott, giving Republicans a chance to claim the only African American in the Senate. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a Cuban American, also became an instant star among Republicans when he was elected.” HOPEFUL?

Underscoring the increase of WOMEN members of our CONGRESS (House and Senate), the article credits former Speaker Pelosi as the most central Democrat pushing for the party’s diversity. I noted the report, “The House has 81 women, 61 of them Democrats. The Senate includes 20 women — still just a fifth of the chamber but an achievement striking enough that ABC News gathered the group together for a joint interview that aired on Thursday night.”

You can see one version of the pic of the Democratic women of the 113th Congress using this link, Photo #20 of the “113th Congress sworn in” photo feature in the Washington Post.

I found it astounding to read the report in the article, “The contrast between the two parties has been stark in recent weeks.

“When Republicans first circulated a list of their committee chairmen for the 113th Congress, showing that every committee would be headed by a white man, Pelosi’s office quickly followed up with a flier with photos of the ranking Democrats on the panels.

“Half of top Democrats on committees are minorities or women. In the debate that followed, Boehner named Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) to chair the House Administration Committee, a panel on which she had not served.” HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT, I think. Do YOU agree?

I agree with Pelosi’s statement, “The more diversity of opinion at the table, the more consensus you can build, the more sustainability of the solutions, and the more respect it commands.”

Continuing the diversity analysis, I am glad to note too the fact that there will be now be 42 African Americans in the House and one in the Senate — Scott, the first black Republican in the Senate since 1979.

Also, the fact that there are three Hispanics in the Senate – the article notes, “Two of the Senate’s three Hispanics will be Republicans (Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida). Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) is a Democrat.”

Looking at the House, there are 29 Latinos in the House, 24 are Democrats.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), reelected in November, is quoted asserting, “By and large, they understand that extremism — whether it’s on women’s issues or fiscal issues — we’re not going to make progress if they’re on the far ends, the fringe. We’ve got to find that middle where we can all be a little unhappy, but we can actually get something done.” I agree! Do YOU?

My AUDACITY of HOPE for the 113th Congress is MUCH HIGHER having learned more about the DIVERSITY of this CONGRESS! What I YOUR evaluation?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 9:24 am Monday, April 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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