Yesterday, Americans elected 117 (and counting) women into public office. 42 of those women are women of color. 100 of them are Democratic.
In the House, there’s a Democratic majority. And a majority of elected officials who believe in common sense gun laws.
In the Bronx, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. “We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them….”
In Colorado, Jared Polis became the state’s first openly gay Governor.
In Connecticut, Jahana Hayes is projected to be the first Black women elected to Congress from that state.
In Illinois, Lauren Underwood unseated a four-term congressman.
In Kansas, Sharice Davids is the first openly lesbian congresswoman to represent the state.
In Maine, Janet Mills became the state’s first female Governor.
In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley will be the first Black woman to represent the state in Congress after defeating her ten-term incumbent in the primaries.
In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American elected to the House.
In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American legislator in the US.
Together, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress.
In New Mexico, Deb Halaand is the first indigenous woman to represent the state in Congress.
Together, Sharice Davids and Deb Halaand are the first indigenous women ever elected to Congress.
Also in New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham is projected to become the first Democratic Latina governor in the US.
In New York, Antonio Delgado, is projected to win his bid for Congress, despite months of racist attacks from his opponents.
Also in New York, Tish James became the first woman elected as attorney general in this state, the first Black woman elected to statewide office and the first black person to serve as attorney general.
In Georgia, anti-gun violence activist, Lucy McBath, is heading to Congress. McBath’s son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in an act of gun violence during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Also in Georgia, Stacey Abrams is waiting for every last ballot to be counted because, in her words, “In a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere, not just in certain places, and not just on a certain day.” (If you can donate even a few dollars to her campaign, head here.)
In Florida, Andrew Gillum lost his race for Governor but earned 49 percent of the vote in his bid for Governor despite clear aims at racist voter suppression and overtly racist campaigning. Also in Florida, 64 percent of the voters voted to pass Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to ~1.2 million citizens convicted of felonies.
In Texas, Beto O’Rourke lost his race for Congress, but earned 48.3 percent of the vote and raised $70 million dollars without the help of PACs. Democrats in Texas gained 12 House seats due, at least in part, to enthusiasm created by his campaign.
There’s a lot to feel hopeful about. And a lot to feel angry about. What’s abundantly clear is that the victories that we can celebrate today were won not because of a healthy and functioning democracy, but in spite of a system that’s been rigged from the beginning. In spite of virulent racism. In spite of misogynist rhetoric and barriers to entry. In spite of systems that favor the rich and the white and the male, and the privileged. In spite of gerrymandering and voter suppression. In spite of white women voting over and over again for politicians who uphold a racist patriarchy.
Still. I’m choosing hope. I’m looking to these leaders—elected or not—for guidance. I’m hoping it’s clear that what’s needed is more work, not less.
Huge thanks to everyone who joined me in chalking neighborhoods and streets and your own front stoops. I’ve saved as many stories as I could in my VOTE highlight.
Photo of Ilhan Omar’s by Mark Vancleave for the Star Tribune.