Exactly where are these people coming from? No, not the corporate
lobbyists crowding Capitol Hill, but the Representatives and Senators themselves if
its possible to tell the one crowd of suits and ties from the other.
What did they do for a living before election to federal office?
Not surprisingly, more answered to "attorney" than to any other
Forty-seven percent of the Republicans in the Senate (26) are lawyers, as
are 60 percent of the Senate Democrats (27).
The two Republican Senators from Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum and Arlen
Specter) are both lawyers, for example; so are Vermonts Patrick Leahy, a Democrat,
and James Jeffords, a Republican, to name just four.
In the House of Representatives, 33 percent of Republicans (76) and 40
percent of Democrats (83) are lawyers.
Also not surprising is the number of bosses found in both chambers.
Republicans have a slight edge on Democrats in bringing bosses to the
Capitol. Nine percent of Senate Republicans (5) fall into the industrialist/boss category,
as do seven percent of Senate Democrats (3).
Among the Democrats is Wisconsins Herbert Kohl, industrialist, and
New Jerseys Frank Lautenberg, a computer executive. Oklahoma Republican Don Nickles
is a machine company executive.
Industrialist/boss types represent a solid 19 percent of Republicans in
the House (44), and nine percent of House Democrats (18). Republican Peter Hoesktra of
Michigan, who chairs a subcommittee of what used to be the House Labor Committee, is a
furniture company executive. Amory Houghton, a New York Republican, is a glassworks
Bankers in Congress? Now thats a safe bet. Seven Senators (all of
them Republicans) and six Representatives are on loan from the banking industry. Or real
estate executives four in the Senate, 20 in the House. The insurance industry can
claim one Democratic Senator and 11 Republican Representatives.
What other occupations are found in the Senate? The Democratic ranks in
the Senate include a personnel director, a social worker, four teachers and an astronaut.
Senate Republicans include four farmers, a clergyman, a doctor, a veterinarian and a pair
Is there a doctor in the House? Nine, actually; eight of them Republicans,
one a Democrat. The House Democrats also have a nurse on duty.
In an admirable display of candor, some Members of Congress simply declare
themselves to be professional politicians. Of these, 21 are Democrats, 19 Republicans.
The Republican majority also includes 18 educators (including Prof. Newt
Gingrich), eight from the news media or public relations industry, six farmers, four
engineers, three bankers, three athlete/entertainers, three intelligence agents, two
lobbyists, two funeral directors, a social worker, a government employee, an economist and
a veterinarian/casino manager.
And the House Democrats? The Democrats claim eight from the news media or
public relations, six farmers, five law enforcement officials, four accountants, three
bankers, three government employees, two social workers, two law clerks, a member of the
clergy, a librarian, a stockbroker, an architect and a probation officer.
The Democrats can also boast a "professional activist" and a
"labor union official," who happens to be the retiring Representative from Los
Angeles, Esteban E. Torres. (Unfortunately, our only union official in Congress voted for
The one independent Member of Congress, Vermonts Bernie Sanders, is
WHERE ARE WE?
Noticeably absent from this list of occupations are most of the jobs held
by UE members.
Congress has no assemblers, machine operators, welders, material handlers,
jitney drivers or tool makers. No custodians, cafeteria workers, truck drivers, bus
drivers, toll collectors, counselors or printers. No haulers, mechanics, secretaries,
research assistants, teaching assistants or teachers aides.
And Congress comes up short on local union officers or stewards.
Imagine the difference on Capitol Hill if even 37 percent of House seats
were filled by blue-collar workers instead of lawyers. Or if secretaries seized the 62
seats now occupied by industrialists/bosses. Or if electricians replaced real estate
tycoons and janitors took the place of bankers.
What if nurses aides made decisions about health care instead of
insurance executives? And factory workers voted on U.S. trade policies?
Elected officials will be less likely to pay lip service to the needs of
working people if they are themselves working people and union members at that.
The Labor Party gives us a real political party structure that makes
possible the election of working people who are committed to carrying out a working-class
Isnt it time to help build the Labor Party?
(This article is based on research by Chris Townsend, UE political
action director, and Nancy McFadden, Labor Party and union member.)