Be Informed: Lecture and Libations is a community lecture series hosted by faculty and researchers from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, with a mission to increase understanding of and pursue innovative solutions to the challenges facing our global community. A range of topics including psychology, social justice, political science, human behavior and more will be addressed in a relaxed atmosphere, accompanied by refined drinks and delicious bites.
ABOUT THE TALK
Although the poor are widely visible in American politics, Professor Kris Miler reveals that they do not receive the political representation in Congress that one would expect. In her recent book, Poor Representation: Congress and the Politics of Poverty in the United States, she uses three decades of data on legislation passed, hearings held, and bills introduced to show this gross underrepresentation of the poor. Miler finds that Congress fails to act when it should, such as when the number of Americans living in poverty increases or when poverty affects more parts of the country. Individual members of Congress from high-poverty districts, including Republicans from poor, rural districts, also do no more to address poverty than their colleagues from wealthy districts. Instead, the poor must rely on a few surrogate champions to take up their issues in Congress. These surrogates have few poor constituents, but view themselves as broader advocates and often see poverty from a racial or gender-based perspective.
As a result, not only does Congress do very little for the poor, but when it does act, the types of policies proposed reflect the small group of active legislators. Missing are the voices of the millions of poor Americans whose elected representatives do not offer a single bill addressing poverty issues. This has implications for the substance of the policy solutions proposed. Does Congress propose alleviating poverty through early childhood education or vocational job training? Does it address rural or urban poverty? Do the policies proposed rely on the tax code, private sector, or state and national government to achieve their goals? When only a few legislators are active on poverty, the full range of needs of the poor are not adequately represented. Looking ahead, Professor Miler addresses how increasing diversity in Congress, recent populist rhetoric, and shifting electoral considerations for Democrats and Republicans could improve the representation of the poor.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Kris Miler is Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the author of two award-winning books on political representation in the US Congress. Her most recent book, Poor Representation: Congress and the Politics of Poverty in the United States, received the prestigious 2018 Woodrow Wilson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published across political science. Her first book, The View from the Hill: Constituency Representation in Congress, received the Alan Rosenthal Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book or article of potential value to legislative practitioners.
Her research on the U.S. Congress, political representation, and the role of interest groups has been published in numerous academic journals, as well as featured in media outlets including the Washington Post, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, Wired, and the Christian Science Monitor. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Dirksen Congressional Center.
Advanced registration is required, as space is limited. RSVP by Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
For questions about the Be Informed Lectures and Libations monthly series or about this specific talk, please contact Jenny Kilberg, director of alumni and donor relations at jkilberg [at] umd [dot] edu.
This event is co-sponsored by Denizens Brewing Co.