THANKSGIVING Day is a time to look at the glass half-full instead of half empty, especially as our nation and our people have been going through so much in terms of the toxicity of the political climate in the United States in the past two years. This year, we see silver linings ahead that gives us much to look forward to with optimism.
The results of the 2018 midterm elections give us that hope, headlined by the banner — the government is looking more female, younger, and more diverse. As Forbes.com reported, “Not only did the 2018 midterm elections run with the most heterogeneous group of candidates ever, but they successfully delivered on the promise of ushering greater diversity into U.S. politics. Heading to Washington this coming January are a record number of women, first-time congressional representatives from a significantly broader racial and ethnic spectrum and a sizable group of LGBT elected officials.”
TIME reported that in 2018, women candidates have broken the records for the number of candidates for governor, U.S. House and Senate, a trend that became even more historic in the 2018 midterm elections.
Many of these women who heeded the call to serve as public officials have become victorious in their quest to make a difference in peoples’ lives. The U.S. House of Representatives alone elected a record number of women, with at least 90 women expected to make their way to Washington, D.C. in January.
The following women made history, as reported by TIME:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old activist from the Bronx, became the youngest woman elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms, defeating Republican Anthony Pappas in the race for New York’s 14th Congressional Distirct. In June, Ocasio-Cortez pulled off a stunning upset in the primary for the seat, defeating 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley. Aside from her age, Ocasio-Cortez has attracted attention for her platform, which she described as democratic socialism. She has advocated for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and housing as a human right, among other things.
Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic Michigan state representative, became one of the first Muslim women in Congress after winning Michigan’s 13th Congressional District in the 2018 midterms. She ran unopposed after winning the Democratic nomination for former Rep. John Conyers’ seat in Congress in August. Tlaib was born to Palestinian immigrants in Detroit and served in the Michigan House from 2009 to 2014. She also worked as an attorney as the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice. Her platform included immigration reform, Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and debt-free higher education.
Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim person to become a legislator when she was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 as a Democrat. And now, she’s first Somali-American in Congress. She defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the 2018 midterms. Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee, and is also one of the first Muslim women in Congress, a distinction she shares with Rashida Tlaib, who won a seat for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.
Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat currently representing Arizona in the House of Representatives, defeated Republican Martha McSally in the race for the Arizona Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Jeff Flake. Sinema became the first female senator and the first openly bisexual senator. Sinema was a former social worker who was homeless for part of her childhood.
Republican Rep. Kristi Noem defeated Democrat Billie Sutton in the 2018 midterms to become South Dakota’s first female governor. Her platform included improving the state’s economy and keeping the state free of income tax.
Deb Haaland, the former chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, won New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the 2018 midterms. She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, and will become one of the first Native American women elected to Congress alongside Democrat Sharice Davids, who won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Haaland’s platform included advocating for Medicare for All, subsidizing early childhood care and education and protecting and expanding an Obama-era immigration policy that allowed people brought to the United States illegally as children to defer deportation.
Democrat Sharice Davids became the first Native American woman elected to Congress after defeating four-term Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District seat in the 2018 midterms.
Davids, a member of Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk Nation tribe and an open lesbian, is also the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas in Congress.
Republican Marsha Blackburn, who currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives, became Tennessee’s first female senator after winning retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s Senate seat in the 2018 midterms. The state has elected six total women to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman to serve on Boston’s City Council, became the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts in the 2018 midterm elections. She had no Republican challenger. Pressley argued that her majority-minority district should be represented by a person of color. Her platform differed little from Capuano, who has been a consistent progressive vote in Congress. As a sexual assault survivor, Pressley has fought to end sexual violence and gun violence. She also advocated for defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Medicare for All.
Democrat Lou Leon Guerrero, the current President of the Bank of Guam, will become the first female governor of Guam after winning the gubernatorial election on Nov. 6. Guerrero defeated Republican Ray Tenorio, the state’s current Lieutenant Governor. Leon Guerrero’s platform included restoring trust in the government, giving small businesses more tax breaks and conducting a pay study for public school teachers.
* * *
Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos