Congress may claim to represent you, and while that is an arguable position one fact is inarguable .. demographically Congress does not represent the majority of Americans. Whether because of partisan re-districting, regional cultural realities, or the vast sums of money that are injected in America’s political system Congress doesn’t have the same make-up as America itself.
In Winston-Salem we are no different that the rest of the Nation. Here were are represented by two extremes, both created by re-districting/gerrymandering by Democrats in the early 90’s. The 12th Congressional District where Mel Watt has held power for 20 years has been called “political pornography” by political academics is an unassailable bulwark of your basic, run of the mill, late-20th Century liberal politics. The 5th Congressional District was created at the same time in the same way. While Many Democrats loathe the mercurial and occasionally vicious Virginia Foxx, the truth is that Foxx’s strong-hold was created by that very same 1992 Gerrymandering by a General Assembly dominated by Democrats.
A study of the 113th Congress by the non-profit Measure of America found the following (see full pdf below):
While it is true that the 113th Congress is the most diverse group of representatives in history its members are still significantly more likely to be male, white, and over 65 than other Americans. In terms of basic well-being and access to opportunity, members of Congress are far ahead of the average in earnings and education but lag in life expectancy.
- Human Development: Members of the 113th Congress score better on the American Human Development Index than people from the top-ranked U.S. state, Connecticut—7.68 out of 10.
- The American Human Development Index is a measure of well-being that combines three central building blocks of a life of choice and value—health, education, and earnings.
- Health: The average American can expect to outlive the average member of the 113th Congress by more than one and a half years.
- The disproportionate number of men (the world over, women live longer) and dearth of Asian Americans and Latinos, the racial and ethnic groups that live the longest, pull down the average Congressional life span.
- Education: Over 95 percent of members of Congress have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher; only 28 percent of the general population has.
- While 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population are lawyers, 41 percent of the 113th Congress are. Members of Congress are sixty-eight times as likely as all American adults to have practiced law.
- Earnings: Median annual earnings, the typical wages and salaries of American workers ages 16 and older, are $29,000. Median earnings for members of Congress are $174,000. All Representatives and Senators earn this amount except for the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, and majority/minority leaders of the House and Senate. These figures include only salaries, not outside income, assets, allowances or benefits.
Put another way, members of Congress earn six times what the typical worker earns annually. Not exactly scraping by like most Americans. When politicians in Congress tell you that they understand your pain in struggle perhaps a little skepticism is in order.