opinion   |   oped

EDITORIAL: Midterm elections show victory in diversity

Almost one week after Election Day, the news cycle is still full of post-election analysis coming to almost every possible conclusion. 

There is the news of a blue wave as Democrats take the House, editorials claiming the blue wave actually did not happen and the Democrats still have no legislative power, along with the constant lamentations of existential dread that absolutely nothing new can happen within our government to make any positive change.

Obviously looking for something to celebrate in these results can be difficult, but it is necessary to focus on individual occurrences that get drowned out by political analysts and journalists trying to decide which political party is, for lack of a better word, winning. There were many monumental victories Tuesday night — for example, more than 100 women were voted into the House of Representatives, many being women of color making history in their respective states. 

Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas are the first Native American women to ever be elected to Congress. Davids, a lesbian, will also be the first member of the LGBT community to represent Kansas in Congress, marking a significantly historic win. 

Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota will be the first Muslim women in Congress. Two years ago, President Trump stated at a rally that Minnesota had “suffered enough” at the hands of Somali immigrants, and that they were “spreading their extremist views.” Now, a Somali immigrant, Omar, has won a seat in Congress to combat this racist and xenophobic rhetoric directly. Omar was born in Somalia and fled to Kenya with her family, living in a refugee camp. In 1997, she and her family resettled in Minneapolis. 

More than 153 of the candidates elected at both the national and local levels were members of the LGBT community. Jared Polis of Colorado became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in any state. There were many victories in individual state legislatures as well, including Sonya Jaquez Lewis of Colorado, Shevrin Jones of Florida and Malcom Kenyatta of Pennsylvania. 

This is important for LGBT rights as many decisions are made at the state level, and nearly 300 bills were proposed to state legislatures in the last legislative cycle that would hurt the LGBT community.

Finally, voting rights have made immense progress in Florida after the passing of Amendment 4, which gave the right to vote to approximately 1.6 million ex-felons that have completed their sentences, excluding those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. 

The U.S. has a notoriously high incarceration rate that disproportionately affects black men, so a victory like this is in a highly populated state such as Florida is groundbreaking. It gives these ex-felons their long overdue right to vote and has the power to change the course of every future election in Florida.

No matter one’s particular party affiliation, politics in the U.S. are difficult to navigate, and it is often difficult to analyze them without feeling discouraged or distraught. This is why we must look at these little victories and realize that they are not little at all. 

Minorities and marginalized people are making huge strides in the government, being elected for the first time to the exact seats and positions that have been trying to impede on their rights.

Victory will not happen with one big wave, blue or otherwise. Progress happens in steps and increments, and many of our newly elected lawmakers have become faces of this progress that we have been seeking, whether the post-election news cycle acknowledges them or not.

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