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The Bold and Unbossed Shirley Chisholm

"Our representative democracy is not working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond to their needs.

I believe the chief reason is that it is ruled by a small group of old men......all a man has to do is stay alive and keep getting reelected, and he will be a power in Washington in 20 or 30 years. He may be from a rural backwater, the odds are that he will be because the safe districts are usually that kind. He may be a reactionary, a bigot, a mediocrity. The are are that he will be, if nothing worse, a man of narrow outlook and modest endowments, because a man of that caliber is the kind who will be satisfied to stay in the House (of Representatives) and do nothing for decades that will risk his chance of reelection.

So our troubled, embattled, urban society, looking to Washington for wisdom and help, finds that the process of change are thwarted by the control of old men whose values are those of a small-town lawyer or feed store operator. If they react at all to the challenge of our age it is with incomprehension and irritation. Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time. Even when the problems it ignores build-up to crises and erupt in strikes, riots and demonstrations, it is not moved."

Shirley Chisholm, 1968

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