For many of us, this has been a rough week in politics. The GTHQ team is still processing the shock of seeing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton losing to outward bigot, racist, sexist and rapist Republican nominee Donald Trump win the Presidency. But the message we feel is most important is that this is not the end of democracy, of decency, of social justice, of humanity or equality.
In her gracious concession speech, Hillary Clinton said some powerful statements that we should take notice of:
“To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion…And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams,” she said.
“I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together…Scripture tells us, ‘Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart’. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do,” she concluded.
It goes without saying that a woman who faced so much adversity should not be underestimated. The proof of her legacy, and what she has been doing as undoubtedly one of the most well-known political figures in the world, can be seen even in this election.
While the Democrats did not win the White House, there were some important and exciting gains made by progressive women in down-ballot races. The reason we focus on this and celebrate these milestones is because politics is not just about who is at the top of the ticket, but all the local and state offices which have a greater day-to-day effect on our lives. Here are the Democratic women who we can expect to see more of in the US Senate and Congress next session.
Kamala Harris just became the first bi-racial woman, the first black politician to represent California, and only the second black woman ever elected to the Senate (Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, who served in the 1990s, was the first). Kamala is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrant parents. She was already California’s first woman, African-American, and South Asian-American to be attorney general, so it seems making political history is in her blood.
According to Inquistr.com, her platform includes immigration and criminal justice reform, paid family leave, jobs, college affordability and taking on climate change.
In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth defeated incumbent Mark Kirk who has made a number of derogatory comments about his opponent throughout his campaign. Tammy is a veteran who lost both her legs in the Iraq war when the helicopter she was co-piloting shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by insurgents. She is also the first Thai-American to serve in the Senate.
According to Elle.com, she will use her platform to address structural issues that have prevented veterans’ access to private doctors and to speak for soldiers whose voices have been too often left out of conversations about deployment and foreign policy.
Hailing from Washington state, Pramila Jayapal has become the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress, representing Seattle’s 7th Congressional District. Pramila is the founder of an advocacy group called OneAmerica which she founded after 9/11 to be a voice for immigrants and refugees in the United States. She was championed as a progressive leader of change by Senator Bernie Sanders. Her platform includes immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and environmental issues.
Minnesota elected Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American Muslim lawmaker to represent them in the state legislature as a Representative for District 60B. She is said to have handily defeated her opponent and runs on a platform of advocating for immigrants and refugees.
After fleeing Somalia as a young girl with her family due to conflict and political instability, she spent 4 years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Eventually she and her family made their way to the United States and settled in Minneapolis at the age of 12, where she is now one of the most visible Muslim elected officials in the country.
While Florida was seen as a state of major disappointment for the Democrats, there was some good news. They elected the first Vietnamese-American woman to Congress, Stephanie Murphy. She is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who defeated as 23-year Republican incumbent. What a badass!
One of the biggest gains was in Nevada, where Catherine Cortez-Masto was elected to the US Senate. Not only did she hang onto a crucial seat currently occupied by the retiring Harry Reid who is the Democratic Minority leader, but she also becomes the first Latina Senator in US History. She is the former Nevada attorney general and is the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant. She ran on a platform of immigration reform and focusing on the Supreme Court.
Inquistr.com states her win against Republican Joe Heck was especially sweet because she was up against some major funding from the Koch Brothers. It seems corporate money interests are slowly being chipped away by hardworking immigrants and former refugees who came here to work and make this country more equal for everybody.
We also have to mention the Oregon Governor’s race which was an awesome moment to celebrate. Although not technically a federal or state Senate or Congress position, it is still a major signal to the progressive movement happening today. Kate Brown has officially become the first openly LGBTQ person elected Governor. She was already serving in the position for a little over a year when former Gov. John Kitzhaber, resigned, but this time she was fully elected and has set a milestone for this country.
Not only did she run on a platform advocating for the LGBTQ community, but other marginalized groups, women and children. Already during her time in office she has been successful in passing legislation to protect these groups. Kate is bisexual and is also survivor of domestic violence. She is currently married with two stepchildren.
Special mention goes to New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan who ran for the US Senate and successfully beat Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte who has been hindered by her support of Donald Trump. The NH Senate race was extremely tight and wasn’t called until well into Wednesday, November 9.
Although the Democrats only have 48 seats in the US Senate compared to the Republican’s 51, and in Congress, despite modest gains for the Democrats, the chamber is still a Republican majority 247-188. Nevertheless, this list gives us hope for future elections (mid-terms are SUPER important in 2018 and of course the presidency again in 2020) but it is also a reminder of the impact local and state elections are. Every vote counts, every seat counts.