Jonathan Kraut | Why Diversity in the House Is Important

I am fortunate to have a business partner with whom I share directing our private security firm. My business partner and I could not be more different in faith, background and professional experience. Yet our common goals, ability to collaborate, and shared service-oriented mentality has helped create a unique and successful security and protection services operation.

I credit our success in a very competitive environment to the leveraging of our different styles of thinking and dissimilar approaches into initiatives not possible from only one point of view. With two sets of eyes we envision a deeper understanding of how to provide better services and mentor our officers and staff.

Throughout the Industrial Age, which essentially ended right after World War I, autocracy and enforcing strict lines of command, without team contribution, was the practice of the day. This archaic and primitive form of leadership was unable to meet the challenges and complexities of today, what is called the Information Age.

The Information Age brought to the forefront the necessity for more effective decision-making processes that incorporate team collaboration and shared problem solving. Indeed, the modern concept of configuring activities to achieve success, at least in America, relies heavily on the practices of shared innovation and team-developed solutions.

Diversity of ideas and collaboration have been the cornerstones of our recent advances in communications technology, and have created for us a new contemporary society. Our diverse population and even attracting foreign talent provide the foundation upon which American success has been built. Forbes Magazine, for example, reports that 45 American billionaires are in fact foreign born.

The U.S. House of Representatives, if divided by party preference, depicts two very different compositions: one homogenous and one diverse.

The 200 Republican representatives in the House are comprised of 179 white men, 12 white women, 8 non-white men, and 1 non-white woman. In other words, Republican delegates to the House are 90 percent male and 96 percent white. These demographics do not represent America.

This suggests that local Republican district committees, who select candidates, favor white men as their leaders. That, or many qualified non-whites and women won’t participate.

The composition of the Democratic representatives in the House on the other hand definitely looks like the “People’s House.” About one-third are white men, about one-third are female, and approximately one-third are non-whites.

While demographics alone should not automatically qualify or disqualify any person from serving, the general difference in trends between parties cannot be ignored. Often winning political seats are more a matter of voter registration numbers by party in a certain area than the quality of the candidate. But the point is that Republicans are rarely nominating non-whites or women as their choice for a seat while the Democrats are attracting talent from a larger, more robust and diverse population.

It is no surprise that the conservative movement in this country, who want to “re-industrialize” America and “return to greatness” of the Industrial Age, has held on to autocratic mindsets and continues to promote adhering to hierarchical rather than collaborative structure.

Our Republican president, for example, pushes autocracy, issues mandates without consultation, threatens emergency declarations, and is the self-proclaimed “expert on everything.” This conduct is not contested by conservatives because it feeds the appetite of this autocratic mindset.

The writers of the Constitution wanted to defend against autocratic rule and purposely positioned the legislative branch in Article I ahead of the executive, which is described in Article II.

If collaboration and team innovation are the keys to success, as it has been with my firm, imagine the disintegration of our economy and loss of world leadership if we limit views, diminish collective problem solving, and stunt diversity.

One might argue that China, an autocracy with theocratic undertones, is also an economic powerhouse. The source of Chinese economic power does not come from its autocratic nature, however. China essentially steals technological innovations from the West, spends only on mass-producing stolen technology, and then sells these cheaper products back to the West.

In other words, China’s economic success is fueled by the theft of ideas at no cost and then uses discounted prices to solicit the buying power outside of China. China’s weaknesses still remain as a lack of diversity and an inability to innovate.

Whose views and ideas are more likely to solve the nation’s challenges: a room full of white men with similar backgrounds and a homogenous world view, or a room with varied ideas and diverse views that more accurately depicts America?

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO private security firm, is the COO of an Acting Conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.     

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