Trailblazers included Native Americans, Muslims, African Americans, and also scientists, doctors, engineers, and a mathematician
Growing up, I lived in a little community outside of a small city, known for its nice homes and wholesome atmosphere. As kids, we rode our bikes to the last hold-out small local grocer where we would buy candy. Yes, there were the chain stores too – we weren’t out in the country. But we were in this cute little enclave of perceived virtue and safety. It was idyllic. While it was mostly white, there was a moderate population of Asian Americans, and a small population of African Americans.
When adults (mostly the men) talked about elections and leaders, it was almost always about fiscal responsibility, the Persian Gulf, traditional Christian values, and keeping the Federal Government from taking too much control. When they talked about strong candidates, they were always white, wealthy, and had military experience.
With few exceptions, the women in my world didn’t pay much attention to the actual issues in this arena. While I always heard “maybe someday you’ll be the first female president”, I never heard any men in my life speak positively about the immediate idea of a non-white, non-male, non-Christian candidate. Actually, there were non-Christian candidates (though that wasn’t outwardly discussed on the campaign trail), and I remembered that being a serious issue amongst our social circles. As though Jews or what are now known as agnostics are amoral heathens.
But non-whites? Women? Not the favored candidates. Not considered serious candidates. When someone told a story of an experience they had with another person who happened to be non-white, it was never, “a man” or “a woman”. It was “a black” or “a hispanic”. And while the dismissal of women as equals or as potential representatives of the population was less overt, it was still fully intact.
While my own father inspired in me a fire to do anything I wanted – to be anything I wanted to be, the atmosphere I grew up in didn’t exactly inspire a feeling of universal equality.
So fast forward a couple decades to the 2018 mid-terms, and we, the women, the people of color, the LGBTQ are hungry, angry, and tired. I am in the category of least impacted, so I can only imagine how fired up others were to get to the polls. And how inspiring to see the ballots filled with candidates actually representative of the population for once.
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And the results were amazing. America, I applaud you. It’s finally our time, and not just for one token candidate. No, no. We showed up in force, and there are enough winners to actually represent the actual opinions and rights and values of the people, not just the elite corporate 1%-ers who’ve been hooking themselves up with tax cuts, loopholes, and corporate kickbacks aplenty. And that’s only talking about the money. Human rights, reproductive rights, marriage rights, the right not to have your airflow cut off when being arrested while black…. All of this can actually be addressed now that we don’t have a majority of white wealthy men in the House.
A record-breaking 94 women were elected to the House, which comes along with historic wins for Muslims, Native Americans, women and LGBTQ candidates. And bonus: There were scientists, doctors, engineers, and a mathematician. Because we need more knowledgeable experts at the table, don’t we?
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will become the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Omar was a former refugee, and will be the first Somali-American congresswoman.
Jared Polis won the election for Colorado governor to become the first openly gay man to govern a state in America. Polis also happens to be the state’s first Jewish governor.
Ayanna Pressley will be the first black person period representing Massachusetts in the House.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first two Native American women to serve in the House. Davids will also be the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who served in the House, will become the first woman to represent Tennessee in the Senate. Janet Mills, a democrat, will become Maine’s first female governor. Abby Finkenauer will be the first woman from Iowa elected to the House. And 28-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated 10-term incumbent in a major upset to become the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress.
What’s more, it wasn’t just about gender, race, religion, and sexual preference. We’re also getting representation by 9 new scientists (including 1 physicist, 1 microbiologist, and 1 chemist), as well as 8 engineers, 1 mathematician, 15 doctors, 3 nurses, and 3 veterinarians. These are professionals who actually have the background and knowledge badly needed at the decision-making table. Political parties aside, Congress is actually starting to look a little bit more representative of our actual population.
Two messages are clear: 1) When you disenfranchise entire groups of people to such extremes, they will fight back; and 2) When you put out disinformation campaigns for the capital gains of corporations in a quid pro quo for your financial/political/career gain, absolutely ignoring scientific facts, it’s just a matter of time until you cross the line SO much that the field experts with a conscience are coming for you. It appears to be payday, boys.