I Didn't Say That: Representation in Government

A follow-up on yesterday's email, a new report on LGBTQ representation in the US government, and a story about Biden's judicial picks, which include a lot of women and women of color.

A Quick Follow-Up On Yesterday's Email:

If you’re interested in reading a somewhat different take on the push to "defund the police" from the ones I shared yesterday, The Trace published a cogent and nuanced piece on the topic yesterday as well. (And if you’re not interested, I invite you to skip to the next section.)

The story focuses on Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott—"who successfully campaigned to become mayor on a platform that emphasized 'reimagining' public safety to rely less on police"—and his struggles to improve policing and public safety in a city that has recorded, as of July 26, 194 homicides so far this year.

Scott's base pushed for cuts to the police budget, and Scott had lobbied for them before becoming mayor. But he has since called for raising the budget, which some of his supporters were obviously not happy about.

From the piece:

The mayor’s proposal to add $28 million to the police budget made supporters wonder whether they had been played. “The question for the mayor is did you really want to [defund]?” said Ralikh Hayes, deputy director of Organizing Black, a group tied to the Movement for Black Lives. “Or was this a talking point to get votes?”

The story takes a hard look at the challenges of navigating these seemingly impassable political and social intersections.

In yet another take on the topic, The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board wrote in defense of Scott's position in April.

They concluded:

This kind of moderate approach to reform, this level of caution, careful planning and incremental steps, is not going to rally a lot of people to one’s side, like the national defund the police movement. It is not thrilling. It will not inspire marches or sign waving or campaign donations. That’s what makes it the harder, but more effective, strategy for Mayor Scott to stand behind.

I will leave you to make up your own mind, or to just keep questioning it. Like the stories I shared yesterday, I bring you these today only because I think they are worth thinking more about. Not because I think any of them are definitive works.

Today’s First Notable Thing:

There are many "uncomfortable and important" conversations being had about LGBTQ issues right now. And the day may come when I attempt to take a balanced look at all of that. Alas, after journeying through the uniquely complex and sensitive terrain of yesterday, today is not going to be that day.

Instead, today I'm bringing you an LGBTQ story that I believe is both important and comfortable.

A new report shows that, as of June, there were 986 known LGBTQ elected officials in the US. That's a 17% increase from June 2020. The report, by LGBTQ Victory Institute, a US "organization dedicated to elevating openly LGBTQ leaders who can further equality at all levels of government," includes a pretty remarkable list of increases in LGBTQ representation in elected offices in the US.

The increases held across numerous segments, too: race and ethnicity, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. (Though, if you look at party affiliation, things start to get pretty lopsided.)

In any event, you really should check out all the data at the slick Out for America 2021 site. But here's a screenshot from a PDF of the report to give you a small visual taste of what I'm talking about.

It's not perfect. There's still underrepresentation, which, in government, is a big problem. While LGBTQ individuals make up an estimated 5.6% of the total US population, they still only make up 0.19% of all US elected officials.

Even so, a 17% increase overall, and significant increases across various segments is, in my opinion, something to be celebrated. (Confetti, anyone?)

Today’s Second Notable Thing:

Basically everything I just said carries over to this July 7 story from The 19th: "Biden’s federal judicial picks are 77 percent women so far."

From that piece:

As of the beginning of July, Biden had nominated or announced his intent to nominate 30 jurists to the federal bench. Twenty-three—about 77 percent—of those nominees are women, and 17—about 57 percent—are women of color, according to an analysis done by Demand Justice.

Again, when it comes to government, I think it should be entirely uncontroversial to say that it would be a good thing to have a somewhat proportionate number of people in it who kind of look like us, and who kind of know what it’s like to be one of us (one of us plus power, that is).

Now if only we could get some sullen white men who loathe themselves but find solace in sharing their thoughts and laughing at their own inappropriate jokes elected to represent some of us. Oh. Right. Never mind.

What Do You Think?

Personally, I’m starting to think that five or six emails a week from me is probably at least one or five or six too many. So I'm going to give you a break from my thoughts on Fridays (and still send only one email on weekends). If I could take the same break myself, believe me, I would. Instead, I'm just going to spend my Fridays catching up on other work and being jelly of you for having a break from me.

That said, I'd love to get your feedback at the end of this first week of I Didn't Say That, and I'd be grateful if you'd complete a quick five-question survey to share your thoughts. It will only take a few minutes, and it’s totally anonymous, assuming you choose not to enter your email at the end. Thank you.

Take the Survey

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