Municipal elections in the United States rarely make their way to the front pages of the international press. Unless Michelle Wu (Boston) and Eric Adams (New York) win them over. Both, newly elected mayors, became the friendly face on the fateful election night of Joe Biden on November 2, who received a stern warning in Virginia and New Jersey for legislatures next year. Instead, Wu and Adams made history: She, who was sworn in last Tuesday, became the first woman and first Asian to rule their city in 200 years; Him, as the second black mayor of New York.
Both are Democrats, representing 63 of the 100 most populous city council members in the United States, According to data from BallotpediaEncyclopedia of American Politics and Elections. Do your victories attest that the demographic diversity that characterizes a country has a greater impact on the political power you administer?
Yes, if the data for major cities are reviewed. The four most populous (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston) are ruled by the aforementioned Adams, Eric Garcetti, of Italian-Mexican descent, and Laurie Lightfoot and Sylvester Turner, a black man and woman. Pittsburgh, Kansas, Cincinnati and Seattle will draw their first African-American (first and second) and Asian-American (second) mayors after this month’s elections, while Dearborn (with 42% of residents of Arab descent) elected its first Muslim council member. of his story. And if you compare Top 15 Of the cities, in 2018 there were 13 cities ruled by white men (compared to the current seven), and there were no women on the list (in 2021 there are three cities, and four more if the top twenty are taken).
Richie Zwegenhaft, professor emeritus of psychology at Guilford College in North Carolina, believes that “real change is happening.” He is the co-author of a reference book on the subject, Diversity in the powerful elite, Published in 1998, it examined the diversity of elites in the political, military, and commercial realms and had three editions (the last, in 2018), which chart a development whose speed, however, is defined as “glacial”. “Municipal authority always tends more to diversity, which is not widely held in the House or Senate,” he warns.
“They let minorities rule in those places because in city councils there isn’t a lot of money at stake,” says Ismail Reed, a novelist, poet, essayist and playwright from Oakland who is one of the most respected voices of the black community in the United States. Also one of the most uncomfortable things. When the crisis vacated the urban centers, the whites fled to the suburbs and the poor stayed with the centre. They are the ones who vote for these politicians. It’s a cruel joke,” adds the author Mambo Jumbo (1972), a satire on racism in his country that joined the Penguin Classic Club in 2017. Reid does not trust From the sudden realization of the importance of diversity; He doesn’t think it stems from “a fashion in the big newspapers of putting blacks in the pages of culture and style”.
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“The mayor’s office often serves to make a leap in national politics,” Zwegenhaft recalls. There he turns to the case of Pete Buttigieg. “The Minister of Transport went from the city [South Bend, en Indiana, 102.000 habitantes] to a position in the ruling elite. He’s a white man, but as someone who is openly gay, with a husband (and now two twin children), he brings diversity to the political summit.” The recent approval of the infrastructure package, the first of the stellar measures Biden was able to implement, gave her a central role in the administration.
At the summit, and in the Democratic caucuses for the 2024 election, he was accompanied by Kamala Harris, whose appointment as Vice President marked milestones as she was the first woman, first African-American (with a Jamaican father) and first Asian (Indian mother) to make it happen ( In simply anecdotal stories, Friday also became the first acting president for just over an hour and a half, while Biden underwent a colonoscopy.) Early in his term, he promised to establish “the most diverse administration in history.” He appointed, among others, Latino Alejandro Mallorcas (Minister of National Security), Native American Deb Haaland (interior) or Asian Catherine Tay (maximum representative of foreign trade). Of the 24 ministers in Trump’s cabinet, only three were from minorities.
As exceptional as everything about the former president is, it is true that a commitment to diversity has been a more pressing priority for Democrats than for Republicans. But that’s also changing: Of the 15 Conservative seats held in New Jersey and Virginia, 10 will be held by women or a member of a minority, noted Henry Olsen, a Conservative columnist at Washington Post.
Due in part to this Republican consciousness, the current House and Senate formations are also the most diverse in history. According to a study by the Pew Reseach Center: 23%, 124 out of 535 legislators, belong to a minority (in 2011 there were 82, and in 2001, 63). Some groups, such as African Americans, are represented in a similar proportion as they occupy in society (13%). On the other hand, Latinos own half of the sites (9%) that match them (19%). Of course, the numbers are worse in the Senate, where the election of senators is less direct.
Indian Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen, who has lived in the United States since the 1990s and knows “the experience of being the Other” well, congratulates himself on the fact that, in addition to increasing his presence in quantity, he does so in terms of quality: “Take the example of the Democratic Congressman Pramila Jayapal [presidenta del caucus demócrata del Congreso] Ro Khanna. People of Indian descent could have gone so far that it was previously unimaginable.”
Zweigenhaft presents in his studies a distorting variable that is as old as the world and does not understand skin color: social class. The absolute majority of members of the political and economic elites come from the upper and upper middle classes.
This is also Michelle Wu, the youngest mayor of America’s top 100 cities, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. Last Tuesday, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants took the oath in Boston alongside her husband and children, Blaise, six, and Cass, four, in front of an excited crowd. She said that the first time she entered City Hall (in 2010, as an intern), she felt “invisible.” “Today I know that anything is possible in this building,” he said. Now is the time to take on the challenges of a city on the edge: a hub deserted by the pandemic, telecommuting, and a growing homeless population that authorities attribute to the opioid crisis (which claimed 100,000 lives in the US in 2020). Unidos) and served as Chief Police Commissioner. Tasks where your future is more at stake than your past.
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