A spot-check of the Texas legislature shows that they are majority white and male. Once again, at least as per 2019 statistics, the disparities between the people and those elected are starkly different. For instance, Texas has a majority-minority population of people of color, but two-thirds of lawmakers are white. Not even a quarter of the two-thirds of the lawmakers are women despite women making up more than half of the population. The people of color according to Texas are defined as people belonging to the minority racial groups such as blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. From the analysis, the people of color comprise 58% of the total population of Texas while Whites make up 42% of the people (Ura and Dala, “Texas Tribune”). However, people of color, who make up the majority of the population, are underrepresented in both the Senate and House of representatives. For instance, the entire legislature comprises of 36% of people of color against 64% white. For Republicans in both chambers, 96% are white while 4% are made up of people of color. However, the democratic party is more liberal, at least, as shown by the racial composition of its members in both houses, where 80% of its elected representatives are people of color while only 20% are white (Ura and Dala, “Texas Tribune”).
In the recent elections, over half of the new members of the legislature are men. Most of the new entrants are affiliated to the democratic party. However, the addition of new democrats Julie Johnson, Jessica Gonzalez, and Erin Zwiener saw the number of legislatures identified as LGBT increase in the Senate (from two to five). This is a small increment against the total population of Texans that identify as LGBT. Moreover, most of the representatives have previously served in the government in different capacities. While the number of women continues to increase in the legislature, the number of women remain record low as compared to the total population of the segment. For instance, in the current legislature, only 42 seats in the House and Senate are occupied by women.
For the executive government, the governor is male and Republican, the Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick is male and republican, the attorney general is male, the and commission is male, agriculture commissioner is male and republican, and the comptroller is male. Top executive posts are male, and mostly white, which are not representative of the total population.
Party affiliations further show the democratic variations that exist between various population categories in Texas. For instance, the legislature has a total number of 102 GOP lawmakers, but only 12 of the seats are occupied by women. This is an indication that the Republican party has not implemented mandates to ensure that women are represented in the house of representatives. However, the Senate has a higher representation of Republican women, as compared to the House of Representatives, where they hold a third of GOP slots. The number of women has continued to dwindle in the House in the recent past, dropping to not more than 6 in 2019 (Ura and Dala, “Texas Tribune”). Equally, the religious belief of state representatives and senators guide policymaking. For the 86th legislature, more lawmakers identified as Catholics than any other religious group.
Apart from the variations in sex and race, there were stark differences in age and level of education. The youngest representative, Rep. James Talarico was 29 years− he is largely an outlier. Overall, members of the legislature tend to be older. In the House, however, the median age is 50, while in the Senate it is 58. The longest-serving woman, and the oldest, Rep. Senfronia Thompson 80, has a 51-year age difference with Talarico, the youngest of the representatives. Despite the election of the 29-year old Talarico, the share and composition of legislatures in the 29-34 age category, defined as the youth, are smaller as compared to those in the 50-80-year category, categorised as senior citizens (Ura and Dala, “Texas Tribune”). Additionally, for education, approximately a quarter of Texans aged 25 or older have high school diplomas, but the majority of the legislatures have a college degree. The legislature, where a third are lawmakers, have postgraduate education.
The demographic composition of an elective region should be representative of its population. This ensures that the policies implemented have the blessings or reflects the true position of the people of that region. However, underrepresentation or overrepresentation of a specific people could lead to the formulation of skewed policies; policies that only further the interests of either the majority or minority, but often the majority. For instance, as seen in the analysis, most of the seats, either elective or executive, are occupied by whites, which only form 42% of the total population. It follows that policies that are being implemented will favor the white population at the expense of people of color, who have the largest numbers. The ideas of the minority, in this case, whites, are more likely to be turned into public policy and laws since they have the greatest representation.
Political parties and interest groups run campaigns and define who gets elected. For instance, in the case of Texas above, party politics play a role in determining the representatives and senate. Interest groups and political parties act as intermediaries between the general public and the officeholders, and for many voters, its is the basis by who to vote for is determined (Meyer and Minkoff, 1458). In various instances, electorates will consider a cause or political party to vote for even before considering the candidate itself. Parties can promote democracy by aggregating smaller interest groups and the underserved people, as seen in the demographic composition of the Democrat legislature. The interest groups, which have risen dramatically since the mid-twentieth century, can also play a role in increasing participation. They can sponsor candidates financially, through PACs, membership mobilization, or direct advertising to ensure equitable representation.
- Meyer, David S., and Debra C. Minkoff. “Conceptualizing political opportunity.” Social forces 82.4 (2004): 1457-1492.
- Ura, Alexia and Carmeon Dala. “In increasingly diverse Texas, the Legislature remains mostly white and male.” Texas Tribune Organization, Jan 10, 2019, https://apps.texastribune.org/features/2019/texas-lawmakers-legislature-demographics/