The path to mandated diversity leads to an absurdity

When you boil it down to its fundamental essence, what she is proposing is an affront to democratic principles and an absurdity.
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who picks up the liberal agenda from where Harry Reid left off, stated in a recent interview with Politico, “We should be mandating diversity in our committees, mandating diversity in our hiring practices, mandating diversity throughout the United States Senate.”
She later is quoted as saying, “You just have to walk in the room and look at the senators that are there — the 100 senators, right? You could see the lack of diversity.”
In response to this inanity, the editorialists at the Las Vegas newspaper asked the next logical question: “Does Sen. Cortez Masto seek a constitutional amendment to replace the democratic process with a federal quota system to ensure the ‘proper’ distribution of pigments and chromosomes in the nation’s highest legislative body?”
How do you determine successful diversity? Do you know it when you see it, as Cortez Masto apparently does — just like the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said he could spot pornography: “I know it when I see it”? Or can it be precisely calculated? How can one determine when one has succeeded in achieving the lofty goal of diversity?
The chief absurdity is how to explain what is “proper” diversity. Equal amounts of certain properties, traits, characteristics and proclivities? Or matching the current distribution in the population of those characteristics? For that matter, is that distribution fair? Or is it merely a quirk of fickle fecundity?
If one were to demand that “proper” distribution of chromosomes, a Senate that is half male and half female would have only 50 Y chromosomes and 150 X chromosomes. Hardly diverse.

Even if the first elected Latina member of the U.S. Senate, as both the Politico interview and the newspaper editorial pointedly observe, is talking about skin pigments and/or ethnicity, that too gets to be a mathematical absurdity.
Are we going to return to the days when states like Louisiana had laws on the books that stated any person with so much as 1/32nd black heritage was, ipso facto, black? Or does one pure bred ethnic person equal two mixed race persons? Should the ratio of black, brown, yellow, red, white and other pigments match the population from the latest census or extrapolate for changes in the future? May a person identify as any race or gender or sexual orientation they choose? Or would that upset the diversity quotient?
And what about IQ levels? Should the senators and their staffs be required to match the median IQ of the nation? For every staffer or senator with an IQ of 130, you’d need to hire or elect someone with an IQ of 70. (Uh, we may already have.)

What about age? The median age of senators is 62. The median U.S. population age is 38. Seems clearly to be a lack of diversity. And that tacky constitutional requirement that a senator has to be at least 30 years of age certainly flies in the face of the all-important diversity objective.
Also, aren’t there too many lawyers in the Senate and not enough hod carriers?
Lumping people into categories and pigeonholes for the sake of achieving a counterbalance for some past perceived affront or discriminatory behavior is itself discriminatory, counterproductive and contrary to democratic principles.
By the way, the Politico interview was conducted for a section called “Women Rule Podcast.” Not very diverse.

And isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy in demanding diversity while engaging in blatant stereotyping?
At one point the “Women Rule” interview reports: “There is a tendency for women to over think things, right? And so we think, ‘Oh, can I really — if I decide to run for office, am I qualified? Do I have the educational experience? Do I have the background? Do I have the ability?’” Cortez Masto says. “And I will tell you, there are men who look at the same office and say, ‘Well, how much does it pay and let me jump in and see.’ I think we need to do a better job of talking with women to say, ‘No, you don’t need to do that analysis.’”

May we be so bold as to point out that each of us is a minority of one, and that not all members of every group think and act alike. Diversity mandates are futile, insulting and ultimately absurd.

Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at He also blogs at

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  1. Frank Daniels says:

    Point A: The so-called demographic groups are arbitrary and insignificant.
    The Human Genome Project states (p. 812) that “two random individuals from any one group are almost as different as any two random individuals from the entire world.” That is to say that the genetic diversity WITHIN one perceived race is approximately the same as the genetic diversity between random members of different perceived races. This echoes what the American Anthropological Association wrote in 1997. “The clearest data about human variation come
    from studies of genetic variation, which are clearly quantifiable and replicable. Genetic data show that, no matter how racial groups are defined, two people from the same racial group are about
    as different from each other as two people from any two different racial groups.”

    This is to say that there is no set of genetic markers that, when someone possesses them all, places them within one race — and without which they do not belong to that group. This is true regardless of group. Shades of skin color, eye color, shape of head, type of hair — none of these things (alone or together) classify people into a race.

    Point B: The idea that only a person with a certain group of genetic markers may properly represent someone within that same group is fatally flawed.

    If we do not believe in representative democracy at all, then it is unimportant whether a member of Congress belongs to the same perceived group as you or I do. If the so-called representative is just going to do whatever (s)he wants to do anyway, there is no reason to suppose that a black millionaire is going to represent rural black people living in Mississippi — simply because of a shared skin color. Likewise, there is no reason to suppose that a white millionaire will represent well a poor white farmer living in Iowa — simply because of a shared skin color. In every conceivable case, the person’s philosophical paradigm clearly dominates other issues. How can a white woman who desires increased government control represent anyone who thinks that government is already way too intrusive? Genetics are unimportant. As long as politicians are free to do as they wish to do (and they are), it seems not to matter what race, gender, state, sexual orientation, or party they identify with. The notion that someone who looks more like you will represent you better is ridiculous. Someone who looks like you may not think at all like you think. This leads to the logical conclusion that only you can truly represent yourself. I agree.

    But if we believe that representatives, juries, and judges are capable of putting aside their personal biases in order to serve a greater good, then it doesn’t matter whether elected officials belong to the same perceived groups as me, or to different groups.

    Conservative black people were poorly represented by Barack Obama, who (in their minds) did everything wrong. Likewise, liberal white people are poorly represented by Donald Trump, who (in their minds) makes mistakes every day.

    Point C: Culture is not biological.

    Simply put, check the US census for 2010. You will find, correctly, that Mexicans of Spanish descent are categorized as “white.” Speaking a different language (Spanish, French, Farsi, Yiddish) does not change your genetic information. It does not put you into a different race. As a melting-pot of cultures, the United States allows people from all backgrounds to become Americans. We do not remain Italians, Germans, Egyptians, Pakistanis, and Moroccans. It is a step backward to look for people from our grandparents’ countries (like my grandmother and her grandfather) to represent us in Congress. Holding on to that cultural bias is what hinders us

    The diversity that matters is a philosophical one. We need liberals, conservatives, libertarians, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Jews, and every other philosophical group to be able to speak their minds and be heard. We also need to realize that when someone who is not in our ideological group is elected, it doesn’t ruin everything. The country has elected conservatives before. It has elected liberals. It has elected radicals. It is still here.

    Maybe what we need is economic diversity. The median annual income in the United States is about $52,000, but almost all members of Congress (and presidents and VP’s) in the past 100 years have had incomes in the top 0.5%, and quite a few (the millionaires) are in the top 0.1% economically. What if we “required” that there be as many senators from economic backgrounds in the BOTTOM 0.5% as there are in the top 0.5%? As many whose incomes were BELOW the median as there are above? If we did that, at least we wouldn’t see a room full of millionaires arguing about diversity.

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