The Independent Caucus in the US Congress

Via The Hankster and Cafe Sentido comes a political infographic from comparing the makeup of the current Congress with what our Congress would look like if it were actually reflective of the American electorate, using four different metrics:

The graphic compares the current Congress with the hypothesized proportional or representative Congress in terms of political affiliation, gender, race and religion.  There are only two Independents in the current Congress, and both are in the Senate, namely, Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.  The thought experiment estimates conservatively that there would be 81 Independents in the House and Senate if the legislature were reflective of political affiliations in the country as a whole rather than just the Democratic and Republican parties.  Unfortunately, the graphic does not also compare the great disparity in wealth between the Congress and the people.  But the fact is noted in the corresponding post:
One thing not noted on this infographic is that, besides being nothing like America in terms of race, sex, or religion, our senators and representatives are also wholly different from most Americans in terms of wealth. We've said this before, but it bears repeating: The average American's net worth is $96,000. But the average Senator's net worth? $13.4 million. For House members that sum drops to "just" $5 million.  Does this represent your community?


TiradeFaction said...

It's also worth pointing out our two "Independents" in the senate aren't very Independent. Joe "I'll ban violent video games" Lieberman is only an independent because the Democrats finally got tired of him and drop kicked his ass out of the party, and now whimpers into the arms of Republicans often. Bernie Sanders also isn't very Independent, it's an open secret he has a deal with the Democrats, if he doesn't oppose the party on any substantiated ground, they won't run against him. More on him can be read here

d.eris said...

I agree with you on Lieberman, but I think Sanders really is Independent, even if he has an unspoken agreement with the Vermont Democrats. I mean, he actually calls himself a socialist. Further though, Sanders' running as an Independent is also palatable to the Vermont Progressive party, which is fairly strong and would otherwise run their own candidates, if he were just another Democrat.

As further evidence of Sanders' independece, I'd put forward the work he did with Ron Paul on the Fed audit, though Sanders did water it down a fair amount. And there are other reports that Sanders and Paul may team up to go after the military budget.

Jim Hlavac said...

Bernie Sanders is not an "independent." He's a Socialist. He's a member of that party. He votes their positions and policies. He should just say what he is -- a socialist, and be done with the mush.

d.eris said...

But Jim, Sanders does not belong to any political party and, for that reason alone, is technically an Independent. Furthermore he explicitly identifies himself as a socialist. These two things are not mutually exclusive.

Even if you disagree with Sanders' positions and views, his very presence in the Congress demonstrates that it is possible to elect individuals who are not members of any political party, contrary to the assertions of all those who support the dictatorship of the two-party state.