New Women in the House of Representatives

We’re Waving Blue

November’s Midterm Election ushered in the beginning of a new era – mainstream progressive politics. Right here in the good ol’ USA. We haven’t seen this kind of energy since the 1960s, which gave us the Equal Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the women’s liberation movement and the EPA, for starters. Resistance to war and meme’s like ‘Free Love’ filled the air.

Okay we haven’t reached such a point yet in this new wave, but the promise is finally here. In the House of Representatives, we have the youngest member ever, the first Muslim women, the first Native American, and almost 100 new female representatives. This with everything corrupt Republicans were doing to disenfranchise voters in their gerrymandered districts.

Beyond the House we elected six new Democratic governors and switched a number of state legislatures to the blue side. And we’ve just learned that Democrat Krysten Sinema won in the Arizona senate race and we’re still waiting on final tallies from Florida and Georgia. All to the good.

Short term, we need to hold Trump and the Republicans that serve him accountable. While the Senate is still under Republican control, which will limit the ability to create progressive legislation, the new House will have Democratic leadership which means investigations into things like Trump’s tax returns and abuse of the Emoluments Clause. Not to mention why the EPA and other federal agencies are not doing their job.

As Indivisible and others are pointing out, this cycle was about stopping the Republicans from unlimited political power, which they’ve held since the Trump election. We’ve done that. We were playing defense this cycle, trying to recover some bit of what we lost in 2016. Now, with fresh energy and a lot of new faces in our politics, we can start thinking and strategizing for 2020. 

Already progressive house members are shaking up the establishment Democrats. Nancy Pelosi is at least being challenged for Speaker of the House by Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge. While centrist (read corporate-owned) Democrats point to the loss of senate candidate Beta O’Rourke as an indicator that centrism works best, we know better. Beto made a terrific showing in deep red Texas. Stacy Adams in Georgia is still in the hunt, though not so much for Andrew Gillum in Florida. One wonders how a Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer would have fared in battles like these – they’d get hammered of course.

What will be fun to watch is when these new progressive reps take on the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. There will be plenty of fireworks surrounding this. These new lawmakers are not shy and will make themselves heard. They stand on the ground of common good. Refreshing and long overdue.

There is finally hope that the long standing criticism of the Democratic Party – that they are nothing more than ‘Republican Light’  – may be changing. We have to give the new kids on the block a bit of time to see how this plays out.

Perhaps the greatest lesson from this midterm is that we must stay engaged. Voting is not enough.  See what needs attention in your community. There are about a million groups that would love your time, energy and financial support. We must build on this new passion that so many regular folks in this country are feeling. We must recognize that democracy building is a huge job and dig in and get our hands dirty. And we must reach out, gently, to former Trump supporters and offer them a better way forward, as opposed to the hate and vitriol they get from the President.

And as Star Trek Captain Picard was so fond of the command, let’s end with it… Engage!


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