Democrats Flipped The House — All Thanks To Women

On top of all of these wins for women, there were plenty of other exciting changes that put America on a more progressive path.

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In case you were living under a rock, you know that the 2018 midterm election took place last night. On the federal level, Democrats took back the majority in the House of Representatives while Republicans slightly expanded their majority in the Senate. And on the state level, there was more good news for Democrats: They now have six more state “trifectas” (where they control the state House, Senate, and governorship), flipped seven legislative chambers, and gained 333 state legislature seats out of the 1,000 they lost during the Obama years.
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As with every election, there were some incredibly bitter losses. Republican Brian Kemp in all of his vote suppressing glory is ahead in the Georgia gubernatorial race, though Democrat Stacey Abrams has not yet conceded. Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost the Texas Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz. Andrew Gillum lost the gubernatorial race in Florida to Republican Ron DeSantis. They all stung.
But the fact of the matter is, these campaigns provided so much more than just votes. Southern states have started building out their Democratic pipeline and their volunteer networks. They provided people with hope that the status quo is changing now. And they further exposed rampant voter suppression efforts and just how far we have to go. It’s not enough to have a great candidate; it’s about giving everyone a fair shot to vote for that candidate if they so choose.
But it’s important to remember that these weren’t the only races last night; in fact, they were three out of thousands happening on the local, state, and federal levels. And there were endless wins for women.
Just how many? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the big news from last night for Democratic women in Congress alone:
Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) became the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress.
Sharice Davids (KS-03) and Deb Haaland (NM-01) became the first Native American women ever elected to Congress. Davids, who is openly lesbian, will also join a small group of LGBTQ+ lawmakers on the Hill.
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Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) will become some of the youngest members of Congress.
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the state of Texas’ first Latina congresswomen.
Ayanna Pressley is the first Black congresswoman from Massachusetts, and Jahana Hayes is the first Black congresswoman from Connecticut.
And all told, over 100 women will be in House of Representatives come January across party lines, and hundreds more women won seats at the state and local levels, building a pipeline and network for years to come.
And on top of all of these wins for women, there were plenty of other exciting changes that put America on a more progressive path. Floridians voted yes on Amendment 4, which gave the right to vote to 1.4 million Floridians who have completed sentences for felonies. Massachusetts voters affirmed legislation that protects the rights of the transgender community by voting yes on Ballot Question 3. Michigan voters approved a voting rights overhaul, which includes automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting and straight ticket voting. Voters in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska all approved Medicaid expansions.
So, where do we go from here? Well, there’s a lot of work to do. For white women, it’s pledging to sit down over the next two years and actually having the difficult conversations many just haven’t; after all, 76% of white women voted for Brian Kemp in Georgia and 59% of white women voted for Ted Cruz in Texas. Then the fact still remains that while women were hitting the pavement and spending every waking hour volunteering for candidates, men were sitting around applauding their wives and sisters and moms for their commitment — but not getting off their asses to do anything themselves. And there’s the issue of rampant Republican-led voter suppression — the gerrymandering, the voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls, to name a few — that requires immediate attention.
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All of that feels overwhelming. But last night, our efforts mattered. And now we must remember that while the term “Blue Wave” became popular in this era, waves are temporary; they build, they crest, they crash, and they’re gone. What we want is a revolution, and last night, we took a significant step forward toward creating permanent change we want to see in our country.
Because at the end of the day, 100 women in the House is great. But to apply some Ruth Bader Ginsburg logic here, let's not stop until there are a full 435.
Lily Herman is a contributing editor at Refinery29 and the founder of political volunteer network Get Her Elected. Follow her on Twitter. The views expressed are her own.
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