Elections have a special way of putting our values on display. In some ways, they’re like magnified parades of our nation’s character (wave to the $15 minimum wage float from Florida, oh and there’s the Utah contingent who banned slavery in the state’s constitution!). In some ways the exposure is more comfortable than others.
It’s as stunning to me when elections illuminate what matters to us as it is when they uncover what doesn’t. The latter is excruciating, and like a person in a crop top, America’s underbelly has been thoroughly exposed this week.
But among the mounting evidence of work yet-to-do for the vast majority of us who want to ensure liberty and justice for all, there are monumental wins. They may not be as splashy as the presidential race (BTW, at the time of writing this, I don’t yet know if shero Kamala Harris will become a very important first, but she’ll probably deserve her own column for that), but we saw an inspiring increase in the diversity of our public servants.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the historic wins, the places where our leaders are now a more accurate reflection of our vibrant electorate.
Just by virtue of being visible elected officials, these public figures will likely shift society’s perceptions of the communities that for so long have been disenfranchised and marginalized.
And we need it.
Their successes don’t erase the reality that large swaths of America are driven by deeply entrenched biases, but I appreciate that they complicate that notion which at face value feels remarkably disappointing.
Undoubtedly, we have a lot of work to do. I’m starting by celebrating these remarkable groundbreakers.
Republican Cherokee Yvette Herrell from New Mexico joined Democrats Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo member from New Mexico, and Kansas’ Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, who were both elected in 2018.
While this list of heroic firsts is not exhaustive, they inspire hope and faith that we can, in fact, become one nation indivisible.
Until then, I’ll take the advice Mr. Rogers attributed to his mom: When we see scary things in the news, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”