The pink movement officially overtook the mid-terms with more women being elected to Congressional seats, Governorships, and State Legislatures than ever before. This election was also historic in that there was a 75% increase in women of color running for office with 40 elected to the house (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-of-color-candidates-increase-2018-midterm-elections_us_5bbe8a71e4b0c8fa1367e58e.) There are now 113 women overall that are going to be serving in Congress. And in the red state of Texas, nineteen black women ran for judge posts in Harris County and every single one of them won #Houston19! More on that in part 2 of our blog this month.
In the meantime, BCT Partners is excited to introduce you to three of the women that just made history:
At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She had not previously held office and started her campaign with a significant financial disadvantage. As she said, "You can't really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game." And she did just that. She started her campaign video by saying, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office” and her campaign was primarily funded with donations from many small individual contributors. In fact, she only spent $194,000 in the primaries compared to her counterpart who spent $3.4 million. Following her historic win, she explained her campaign strategy, “I knew that if we were going to win….it’s through an unapologetic message and by expanding the electorate. It's not by rushing to the center. It's not by … spending all of our energy trying to over those who have other opinions. … it’s about speaking to those that feel disenchanted, dejected, cynical about our politics, and letting them know that we're fighting for them.” Her strategy paid off and she now has the opportunity to help her constituents in the Bronx by fighting for electoral reform, single payer healthcare and stricter environmental policies.
Ayanna Pressley became the first black woman elected into the Massachusetts state Congress. Ayanna was actually born in Chicago and attended a prestigious private school, Francis W. Parker, despite her mother working multiple jobs to support the family. While attending the school she was voted the “most likely to be mayor of Chicago.” But her political career actually started in Massachusetts after she attended Boston University and began working as a district representative for U.S. representative Joseph Kennedy II. She also was John Kerry’s political director and later served on the Boston City Council. Her victory in the primary was unexpected as she ran against incumbent United States Representative Michael Capuano. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Capuano) Pressley’s campaign focused on universal access to healthcare and immigration reform. She has also been an outspoken advocate for trying to end sexual violence as she herself is a survivor of abuse. Speaking in an article that appeared in The Nation prior to her election, she said, “I have dedicated my life to combating trauma in all forms—domestic, sexual, gun violence—and so the opportunity to potentially be in Congress at a moment of elevated consciousness is certainly an exciting prospect."
Rashida Tlaid became the first Palestinian-American to be elected to Congress. Rashida was born in Michigan and was the eldest of 14 children. Her parents emigrated to the States a year before she was born. She went on to become an attorney which did not surprise her uncle who said the earned the nickname “The Lawyer” at age 10 because of her ambition and her desire to help others. She began her political career in 2004 as an intern for State Representative Steve Tobocman and later became a member of his staff. Tliab has long been an advocate for Detroit’s poor and ran her recent Congressional campaign on issues such as raising the minimum wage, providing universal healthcare and improved funding for public schools. After her historic victory, she told MSNBC that she feels part of a "new era" of civil rights and social justice movements sweeping across America. “Yes, I'm a woman. I'm a woman of color and, yes, I made history, said Tlaib, but I feel like I'm part of this larger movement that's happening. We were marching as women outside of the Capitol but now we're going to be able to march inside.”
In summary, this past election was about more than the record number of women being elected to office. It was also about fighting for equity and justice for all. Most of the women that were elected ran campaigns based on progressive social policies and they were outspoken advocates for those less fortunate. If we truly are going to bridge the divide between rich and poor, we need politicians like Ocasia-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaid fighting for the American dream for all of us.
To read other BCT blogs: