WaPo blog on minority representation

by Jack Santucci // Published June 5, 2006
Anita Israel at the Washington Post blog asks:

In Politics Currently, the number of minorities in the Senate and the House is not even close to proportional to the number of ethnic minorities in the U.S. population. Can we count on our "representative government" to accurately represent this coming demographic change? Should a healthy government perhaps require that its legislative assemblies reflect the diversity of the population?

The question follows an article noting the growth of Hispanic populations is outpacting that of Caucasian populations in the United States - with implications for cultural, economic and political practice.

Anita goes on to ask:

So, to draw it back to one of the explicit questions I posed - would [proportional representation] help the new "minority majority" in terms of representation in government? Will they need help, for that matter?

Will responds:

Frankly I don't think the hispanic population is going to need proportional representation; as recent political events involving immigration have shown, the parties participating in a plurality system recognize a growing electorate and pander to it at the behest of the surviving majority.

All this raises the question of whether representation needs to be descriptive - that is, whether Hispanic-Americans are needed in Congress to sufficiently serve Hispanic-American constituents. If the answer is yes, some form of proportional voting will be needed to create avenues to representation - especially where Hispanic-Americans do not make up majorities of single-winner, plurality congressional districts.