Our Congress does not represent the actual demographics of this country.
It’s not just a disconnect in numbers, it’s a disconnect in interests. Too often, the interests of elected officials don't seem to reflect the interests of, well, reality.
So how representative is our Congress?
% Immigrants in US
% immigrants in Congress
% ethnic minorities in US
% ethnic minorities in Congress
Select a group to compare Congress & the US population:
Born Outside the US
% of US Population:
% of US Congress:
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Money in politics is a growing problem. The cost of running a national campaign makes national office unattainable for all but the wealthiest and best-known candidate.
In 2008, the average campaign spending for a member of the House of Representatives was $1.1m
In 2008, the average campaign spending for a Senator was $6m
In 2012, the cheapest successful Senate campaign, in Maine, cost $3m.
The most expensive, in Massachusetts, cost $16.5m, not counting outside spending.
This pitched battle has not paid off.
Americans have 50% less trust in their elected national government today than they did ten years ago… State governments have not fared much better, they experienced a 25% drop in trust from the American public during the same period.
Local governments, however, have commanded a stable level of trust, with more than seven out of ten people expressing trust in their local leaders.
Local offices are more accessible and surprisingly influential. Being a community leader is also a stepping stone to national office, especially for immigrants and minority candidates.
The majority of Members of Congress held a local office before going to Washington.
Nearly 75% of School Board campaigns cost less than $1000.
To raise $1000 it would take just $5 from 200 people.
Real leaders are authentic, trustworthy, dedicated, and empathetic listeners. The very traits we see in our friends and colleagues in our communities are the traits we also want in our elected leaders.