By Mary Emert
On Tuesday November 6th the nation held its midterm elections and the stakes, to some, have never been higher. And, in some places the results have never been better. A record number of women, people of color, and people from the LGBT+ community ran, and a record number of them won as well ushering in new faces to represent America.
Congress will have a record breaking 118 women, next year making up 22% of congress which is a significant jump from the 20% currently in office. Many of these women were inspired after the 2016 election, and many of them are democratic working towards women’s rights to birth control, safe abortion, and equal treatment in politics.
Two of these women, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, happen to be Native American both women are very involved in their tribes and interested in the rights of Native Women, who unknown to many have the highest missing and murdered percentages among any minority. Davids also identifies as a lesbian making her the first openly LGBT+ member of Congress from Kansas.
In this she is not alone either. Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, will be the first openly gay governor of Colorado. Chris Pappas will be New Hampshire’s first openly gay member of Congress. Lesbian Angie Craig defeats anti-LGBTQ congressman in Minnesota, will be first openly gay person elected to Congress from the state. Two transgender women, Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. According to the Los Angeles Blade, Cannon and Bunker will join Virginia state Del. Danica Roem as the only openly trans members of any U.S. state legislature. Democrats Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard become the first LGBT+ members of the Kansas state legislature. Zach Wahls, a strong ally who defended his two lesbian moms before the Iowa House of Representatives in 2011, will be a state lawmaker himself. Malcolm Kenyatta will be the first LGBTQ black man elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. Teri Johnston will be Florida’s first openly lesbian woman to win an election as mayor. Kate Brown, the country’s first bisexual governor, and Tammy Baldwin, the first LGBTQ senator, re-elected. Democrat Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, the country’s first openly LGBTQ senator, was re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
Just look at that list! It’s happening slowly but surely. Politicians are becoming more representative of the people that they serve! It may not have happened everywhere, but a movement is happening in our country for more love an acceptance of others beliefs, struggles, sexuality and even religious beliefs. Apart from the very vast beliefs already listed, the first openly Muslim women have been elected: Rashid Tlaib, from Michigan and Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s first Somali-American legislator.
But what does all this mean for Americans? What does it mean for women, people of color and those in the LGBT+ communities?
Well firstly it meant your vote mattered. Even if it didn’t all work out these are all really tremendous victories for these groups so participating to get to be a part of that is really historic.
It also means that these groups will have more representation in Congress and political power to push things forward and stop unfriendly moves against them keeping themselves protected and protecting future generations. These are also people who will be setting an example for and inspiring tomorrow’s children and so for children to see people like them make it into some of the highest legal offices across the country is huge.
Paulette Jordan example. She didn’t win but she would have been the first woman to be Governor of Idaho and she also would have been the first Native American Governor. She didn’t win but she sparked major change in Idaho and in the tribes and she’s still working on it! Her race was so close for the majority of the time it lasted and now she’s a well-known relatable face for people to care about and next time she could be elected! Wouldn’t that be something!
Representation matters, your votes mattered, thank you for going out and changing the world. Hopefully we can all keep it up.