Opinion: Midterms were a historic first for many women

Posted on Nov 15 2018 - 5:50am by Sue Patton-Bey

Millions of Americans turned out in record-breaking numbers to vote in the midterms, as Republicans increased their majority in the Senate and Democrats took a majority in the House.

Women broke several barriers, picking up positions in various levels of government, from governorships to Congress. This isn’t entirely surprising; earlier this year, there were already tell-tale signs of a potential “women’s wave” during midterms, considering the unprecedented number of women who were running for office.

Although some races are still too close to call, at least 128 women of the original 277 female candidates have won their races; prevailing over all the odds, in what is being called the “Year of the Woman.” The term, “Year of the Woman” is a throwback to 1992. That year, several female senators were elected to the U.S. Senate. The surge of women running for office at that time was sparked largely by the controversial appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Twenty-six years later, women are making a big comeback to the legislative branch due to several factors, and the inauguration of a president who is shamelessly misogynistic is definitely at the top. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and degrading comments about women have not only encouraged women to run for office but have gotten female voters out to the polls.

There were still some undecided races as of Wednesday night, the most notorious being the showdown between Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) in Georgia. If Abrams is victorious, she will be the Peach State’s first African-American governor.

Among the incredible women who already have made history are the first two Native American women elected to Congress: Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids from New Mexico and Kansas, respectively. Davids is the first openly lesbian governor of her state. Ayanna Pressley will become the first black congresswoman to represent Massachusetts. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be representing New York’s 14th district. The 29-year-old grew to fame after unseating incumbent Joseph Crowley during the primaries.

The nation’s first Muslim female representative-elects, Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, are set to join the new Congress in January as well.

Omar will be the first Somali-American, as well as first hijab-wearing woman, in public office.

Tlaib, a Palestinian American, won her Detroit-area primary unopposed.

More recently elected women include Kyrsten Sinema, who is not only the first female senator of Arizona but also the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate election in 30 years, and Anna Eskamani, who will become the first Iranian-American to serve on the state legislature in Florida. Eskamani ran on a platform of banning assault weapons.

Some Republican women made history as well. Kristi Noem will become South Dakota’s first female governor and Marsha Blackburn will be Tennessee’s first female senator.

It is a joy to see women win and make progress for not just themselves but their society as well. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction, for better checks and balances on the executive branch in the near future.

Sue Patton-Bey is a journalism major from Oxford.