Friday, January 05, 2007

Veterans of Congress

USA political news was dominated this week by the news of the Democratic Party returning to power in the US House of Representatives -- 12 years after the "Contract with America" revolution brought Republicans to power after nearly 50 years of being the minority party. Coupled with this historic return to power by the Democrats they also elected Representative Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House making her the first woman to ever serve in this powerful job. This is no small achievement given our glass ceiling ("marble ceiling" to use Grandma Pelosi's term) culture in America which clearly harms women's careers.

As part of the news coverage of the swearing in of the new Congress one of our local newspapers provided a statistical analysis of the new Congress of 535 total Members. I have noted a few of their key findings below which in same cases I have converted to percentages for ease of discussion purposes:

  • About 17% of the current Members of Congress are women
  • About 25% of the current Members of Congress served in the military

When you look at the demographics of Congress this way it shows how substantial Grandma Pelosi's climb to power really is given the gender gap. Secondly, nearly 75% of Members of Congress have never served in the military which clearly shows that our country's military is truly civilian-controlled but on the flip side only 131 of the 535 Members have first hand knowledge of the lives of our military men and women. Given the likelihood that even more troops will be sent to Iraq I have to believe more military veterans will be elected with the 2008 elections.

I can't help but ponder the question -- "how would American foreign policy be affected?" -- if 50% or even 75% of the Members of Congress were military veterans. Would we enter more wars or less given their real world experience on the battlefield?

Boots on the ground wins elections,


No comments: