Friday, October 31, 2014

rule of law: these apartheid governments though...,


aljazeera |  In political science, descriptive representation refers to legislators’ having things in common with the groups they represent. It has been linked to confidence in government, positive legislative outcomes and engagement with the political process. Political scientist Christian Grose found that black legislators lead to more congressional attention and money for black constituents.

Benefits such as these could have stopped the crisis in Ferguson. A black city council may have raised the alarm about police treatment in a city where blacks make up 93 percent of arrests, 91 percent of searches and 86 percent of stops by the Ferguson police.

Researcher David Canon suggests that descriptive representation can be especially useful in areas with racial tension, where politicians must balance the needs of a diverse constituency. By contrast, policymakers in Ferguson were sharply criticized for their handling of the crisis and the poor performance of the police chief they appointed. As one protester told the council, “You’ve lost your authority to govern this community.” Another noted, “Mike Brown had to die for our voices to be heard.”

Most blacks, in Ferguson and beyond, do not enjoy descriptive representation, because of the municipal electoral process, in which the game is rigged against candidates of color.