More women will serve in Congress than ever before, with at least 118 set to fill seats after this year’s midterm election. Women surpassed the current record of 107 voting members. The new total includes 31 first-time House members, seven more than the record set for freshmen women during the 1992 “Year of the Woman” election. Women represent two-thirds of the districts that Democrats flipped. Next year’s freshman class will include women of color who have broken barriers in their states, plus the youngest woman ever elected to Congress—Democratic activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, who turned 29 in October.
Women smashed records this election cycle in terms of the number who filed to run, the number of women who became their party’s nominees for House, Senate and gubernatorial races, and even the number of women running against women in general election races. The Year of the Woman, the Pink Wave, and the new Progressives ushered in a new source of pride and hope for the Democratic party. We were done being safe or moderate. We were ready to back the women of color. We were ready to paint the white capitol building with brown, black and other colored brushes.
They serve as a new generation of role models, encouraging Palestinian, Somali, and working-class women to rise up in the fight for representation. So what if you’re a 29 year old bartender from the Bronx? Member-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminds us that any woman can run for office and work towards creating our more perfect union.
“However, when discussing the wins and momentum for 2020, most people are not discussing the women who won. Instead, they are fixated on the white man who lost.”
All in all, an incredible election year for women at a time when this election also shows us who could be a potential contender for the Democratic Presidential nominee. However, when discussing the wins and momentum for 2020, most people are not discussing the women who won. Instead, they are fixated on the white man who lost. Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas has emerged as the wild card of the presidential campaign-in-waiting for a Democratic Party that lacks a clear 2020 front-runner.
Rather than focusing on the plethora of women who won, the media and pundits seem fixated on the singular white man from Texas who lost. He is apparently the new beacon of hope and progressive ideals as we look towards 2020. He is apparently the great unifier, suitable to carry the mantle of America’s first Black president. But why is it that national media and party politics seems to support white man with his résumé and biography, just after the party recaptured the House, in large measure, on the strength of woman and nonwhite candidates?
The nation’s response to Beto’s campaign sends a clear message to women of color: no matter how empowering or emboldening your message, no matter how groundbreaking you are, no matter how quickly you fundraise and win— are you better than the white man who lost?
“They are serving as role models in this new revolution.”
Despite the fact that Ocasio-Cortez unseated an incumbent, she is still written off as some progressive as opposed to a source of unity of rallying. Moreover, her new colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are also beacons. Both represent new demographics in the House: Omar is first Somali representative and Tlaib is the first Palestinian. They are serving as role models in this new revolution. True, Tlaib is the only member of these three who is currently eligible to run for President, but that does not diminish the fact that these three women of color worked together to break ceilings, push boundaries, and lead a new progressive revolution in the Democratic party.
The point remains that the Democratic party should not be relying on the likeable white man to stand up to the current establishment. I’d rather follow the women who won.