Now that we are past the midterm elections and Republicans expanded their majority in the House, Republican leadership decided to dish out new committee chair assignments. Of course, just as they did after the 2012 elections, House Republicans decided to staff these committee leadership spots with middle-age (or just plain old) white guys. Of the 17 new assignments announced earlier this week, all of them are white males. Only one woman, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), chairs a committee. Miller is chairperson of the House Administration Committee, as she was one of four representatives that got to keep their previous assignments.
During Tuesday night’s episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow mocked the Republican Party for the lack of diversity within their ranks, which is reflected by their House leadership and committee assignments. (Of the four main House leaders, three are white men and one is a white woman.) She brought up 2012, when Republicans had to deal with the same bad image when they announced committee chairs, which is how Miller ended up being given her chair. Of course, the House Administration Committee is seen as one of the least important committees in the House.
When Maddow brought up the Republicans’ 2012 struggles with diversity, she showed a clip of Newt Gingrich being grilled by then-Tonight Show host Jay Leno about the issue. Leno, Mr. Middle-Of-The-Road himself, showed Gingrich a picture of a bunch of white men heading up House committees and asked the former Speaker if the GOP had a problem with diversity.
Below is video of Maddow’s segment, courtesy of MSNBC:
On Wednesday, Steve Benen of The Maddow Blog not only highlighted Maddow’s segment, but he also pointed out other embarrassing moments for Republicans where the party’s lack of diversity was put on full display.
Diversity in the ranks has been a problem for a while, though Republican officials evidently do not yet have a solution.As we talked about a while back, during the Republicans’ government shutdown last fall, GOP leaders thought they’d come up with a brilliant stunt: they’d send leading Republican lawmakers to a conference room, position them opposite empty chairs, and show how eager they were to negotiate (i.e., they were willing to listen to Democrats try to make them happy with a series of offers).Party officials snapped photos and distributed them widely, oblivious to appearances: Republicans had chosen eight middle-aged, far-right white guys, most of whom are from the South, and lined them up next to each other. When they promoted the photo, GOP leaders never stopped to notice that everyone in the room looked remarkably similar to one another.
What’s more, when it comes to committee witnesses – experts called in to offer guidance to policymakers – House Republicans invite men to testify 77% of the time.
While Republicans hate being seen as the old white guy party, it is hard to shake that image when the only people that seem to have any say in the party are old white guys.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).