Santa Monica High School

Column: Minorities in government

Back in 2008, when Barack Obama ran his first presidential election against John McCain, two glass ceilings were shattered for the sake of diversity in government.

Sarah Palin was the first woman to run for vice president under the republican ticket. This was a shocking and novel concept for the conservatives, but it has broken ground for more women, such as Candice Miller, Renee Ellmers and even former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, to become more powerful voices in the Republican Party.

A more notable event was Obama becoming elected as the first African-American President of the United States. Obama did not disappoint with his 2008 appointments for cabinet. He demonstrated a great deal of diversity, not only with women but with minorities. His appointments included Eric Holder, Hilda Solis, Gary Locke and many more, a lot of which were the first of their ethnic group to hold this important of a position.

The number of minorities represented in government has been in a gradual incline in the past 50 years. Madeline Albright, Patricia Roberts Harris, Robert Weaver and Kamala Harris are all names of minorities who broke ground in important positions in government. There is one common denominator between all of these important figures from this movement: they are from the Democratic Party. The 114th congress alone proved to be the most diverse one in history, with almost one in five members of the House or Senate being minorities and/or women. This large increase of minorities in the House has largely come along with newly elected democrats.

The pattern seems to be that when there are already women and minorities in the party, it encourages more to join. Being the only one of your race or gender in a room could be discouraging or scary, and maybe that is why it has taken so long for diversity in race and gender to expose itself in our government.

Both the Republican and the Democratic parties should represent voices from all sorts of people. It should not be the case that progress is heavily on the democratic spectrum. It should be even on both sides. More minorities and women need to run for republican seats, and expand diversity everywhere.

Women made up 11 percent of the House GOP in 2006, and that small number has dropped to 9 percent today. On top of that depressing statistic, only 2 percent of the Republican Party is made up of African Americans, and only 6 percent are Hispanic, with other minorities holding even smaller numbers. More people need to be encouraged to improve this statistic, despite the overwhelmingly white nature of the party.

When a democrat is in office, diversity in the House increases. Since 2008, America has overall become a lot more diverse and accepting, especially with regard to the LGBTQ community.

But in our modern-day diversified America, what is to be expected from Trump’s term? His cabinet choices were released, and they are overwhelmingly white and male. Hopefully that detail is not a full representation of how his term will be, but so far it appears like all progress for the sake of minorities being represented in congress will be halted. His past behavior alone has demonstrated strong prejudice against other races and women in general.

Our society has come too far for our central government to be a white boy’s club. The pattern associated with this sort of person in office reflects the needs of that person’s group. America is so much more than the white man. That man does not represent all of us. The executive decisions made by our president should not reflect solely the needs of a party that is going to continue to be a party that doesn’t represent all groups of people. There is so much more to the American people than just that.

There are so many more issues going on in our country that desperately need to be addressed, and it does not seem so far like Trump and his team care for the well-being of all people. That is why there needs to be more open-mindedness in office.

America is diverse. I have grown up to appreciate the merging and appreciation of different cultures, different colors, different ideas and different people. If I can, then why shouldn’t our government?