Achieving diversity in politics has long way to go
Back in June 2019, the Democratic presidential field was lauded as the most diverse in history.
Not only were Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the LGBT community all represented within the vast array of candidates, the record-breaking number of women vying for the nomination was a thrilling prospect for many. It felt like it was finally happening — we were going to break through that infamous glass ceiling.
I remember the first Democratic debate being an exciting event, one met with great fanfare. The sheer number of candidates to choose from was certainly electrifying, but there also was more representation onstage than ever before. This diversity was met with applause and several splashy (and often self-congratulatory) news headlines highlighting our progress as a nation.
Flash forward a few months to March 2020, and two white men, both septuagenarians, are the last ones standing. Somehow, despite all the talk about a brighter, more diverse future, a historic field has been whittled down, cutting out all women and people of color.
This inevitably raises an important question: Have we really made that much progress? The results we're currently seeing are discouraging, to say the least.
All but one of America's presidents throughout history have been white males, and it doesn't look like this trend is stopping anytime soon.
I constantly hear the term "electability" thrown around, and it's no coincidence that white males, especially those who are well-established politicians, are almost always the ones deemed most electable.
We can complain all we want about the lack of diversity in our nation's politics, but until we seize our power as voters to force the change that we covet, we'll be stuck in limbo without progress forever.
It's not just about getting a woman or a person of color into the Oval Office, the chambers of Congress, or a position of power. It's about moving toward a society where anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or age can have the same opportunities.
Political parties claim to be representative of the people, yet the homogeneity of these political leaders is a far cry from the diversity within the American population. The fact that women and people of color were unable to make a breakthrough in this election season is indicative that there is still a very long way to go.
It's my hope that, rather than prioritizing "electability" above all else and reverting to the status quo at every possible turn, people vote for the candidate whose views align best with theirs. The citizens of America are incredibly diverse — it's time our government reflects that.
Sydney Byun is a senior at Wilsonville High School.
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