Surge of women representatives signals progress in politics

Medha Prodduturi, Forum Editor

This midterm cycle, women stepped out as candidates, voters, and activists in ways that could alter the nation’s political landscape. A groundbreaking number of women filed to run for the House, and more than a 100 of these women are heading to office very soon. Whether you look at the record number of women who ran for the House or the women of color who ran in their districts for the very first time, it’s clear that progress is fueling American politics.

Women candidates achieved historic firsts, most of them being Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the youngest woman to take office after winning New York’s 14th congressional district. Rashida Tlaib, who won Michigan’s 13th congressional district, became one of first Muslim women in Congress, joining Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman along with Connecticut’s Jahana Hayes. Two Native American Congresswoman have also made historic firsts: Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas. Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress, flipped a seat long held by Republicans. Numerous other women have made history with their election victories and recorded a significant amount of “firsts” for minorities and women in American politics. Nevertheless, among the historic accomplishments is Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to win a governor’s race.

Although they are far from having an equal representation, 23% of Congress will now be women. Before the midterms, only 84 of the 432 House members were women and 23 out of 100 were in the Senate. Out of the 107 women, only 38 were women of color. However, in the wake of the 2016 elections, an unprecedented number of women ran for office. According to Emily’s List, an organization that works to elect Democratic women, more than 20,000 women have showed interest in running for office since Trump’s elections. With the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican Party’s stance on reproductive rights, and the President being accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women, the new wave of women entering politics is much needed. Current controversial issues affecting women should include women.

A government for, by, and of the people should include a variety of voices. American politics, however, has been dominated by white males for a long time. A white male government — or any other majority single-sex, single-race government for that matter — limits different perspectives of  a decision. When the broad spectrum of interests and experiences lack our elected institutions, minority groups are most likely underrepresented. To say the least, the new female candidates will be able to reach out to minority communities and encourage interested individuals of color into politics. Now more than ever, the people of America are encountering a political change. The election of 2018, we can only hope, will diversify policies as it diversified candidates.