Were the midterm elections a blue wave for Democrats? The pundits are still debating. Let them. The fact is a wave occurred and it was blue … and also pink, and maybe rainbow.
Let me explain.
The Democrats may not have won the Senate, something many believe was virtually impossible due to partisan gerrymandering, but we killed it in the House of Representatives! Democrats picked up 34 seats and counting (we could reach up to 39). This represents the most House seats gained since the wave after the Watergate scandal in 1974. Not too shabby!
With that said, the real success story of the night was the rise of women, particularly women of color!
For the first time ever, more than 100 women will join the House of Representatives! This includes the youngest woman ever in Congress, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is also Puerto Rican; the first Muslim women—Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar (also a Somalian refugee who is now a U.S. citizen); and the first Native American women—Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids (who is also a member of the LGBTQ community and a mixed martial arts fighter).
Women marked other firsts for individual states, both showing our progress while demonstrating how far we have to go. For the first time, Alaska, Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa and Vermont will be sending women to the House. Yes, you read that right. For. The. First. Time. Texas elected the first Latina to Congress (in a state where approximately 39% of the population is Hispanic/Latino). Yes, is really took this long.
The pink wave (an annoyingly gendered phrase being pushed in the media world) also touched our state of Massachusetts! For the first time ever, Massachusetts will send three women to the U.S. House, adding Ayanna Pressley of Boston and Lori Trahan of Westford. Pressley’s win marks the first time that Massachusetts will send a Black woman to Congress. Again, amazing, but unbelievable it has taken this long! Ayanna sought and received an A+ rating from our C4 partner Mass Parent Action during her last campaign for Boston City Council At- Large. She met, at length, with parents and really understood the issues that are so close to our hearts: creating safer neighborhoods, making housing more affordable for families, helping families to feel more food-secure, and making sure every kid has access to a high-quality education.U.S. We couldn’t be happier that she is joining Congress.
We also can’t ignore the rise of women in the State legislature. The State House News Service sent out a press release declaring that women will hold a record-setting 57 of the 200 seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Four other women—Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Democrats Attorney General Maura Healey, Auditor Suzanne Bump and Treasurer Deb Goldberg—were re-elected to statewide office.
This is progress, make no mistake. And it should be celebrated. However, we have miles to go before we sleep. More than 100 women in the U.S. House and 57 in the MA House is great news, but it still massively misses the market when there are 435 U.S. House seats and 200 MA House seats. Women are roughly 51% of the U.S. population, yet we are hovering around 25% of the House representation. Forget about the Senate. Women hold only 24 of the 100 seats there, including the addition of Kyrsten Sinema (who is also openly bisexual) in Arizona, who flipped that seat blue (Go Krysten!). Until woman have 51% of the seats at the table—across all levels of government—we can’t declare victory. But, we can take a moment to smile. A little. In secret.
Come January, our state and federal governments will look a bit more representative of real Americans: beautifully diverse. MPU is 100% committed to helping continue and accelerate the blue, pink, and rainbow waves! No matter what silly names they’re given, the empowerment of school choice supporters, Democrats, women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community brings us closer to the world we want to live in: more equitable and just.
By Katelyn Silva