Editor’s note: Since the publication of this blog post, Kamala Harris has become the vice president-elect, making her the first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president in the United States’ history. In her speech Saturday night she acknowledged the women before her who had fought for a moment like this one: “I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders.”
As election day has stretched into election week, it’s been hard to determine who will become the next president of the United States. But one thing is clear: women and progressives have made some major wins in this election. These wins are hugely thanks to the women on the ground doing the work at home in their communities. So, here are the fruits of those labors, and some of the results of this election that we are excited about.
Women won big
We won’t see a woman become president in 2020, but women still won big during this election cycle. Many states elected women in various seats for the very first time.
Wyoming’s Cynthia Lummis became the first woman elected to serve in the Senate from Wyoming. The Squad, composed of Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts all won re-election. They all caught our eye during the 2018 midterms that saw so many women win their seats in the House of Representatives. Over the last two years they’ve consistently made headlines for combating classism, islamophobia, and sexism within politics.
Candidates of color ran and won
Although our country is made up of people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, white men hold the majority of political offices. After this year, our political landscape will look a bit more like our actual landscape.
Washington’s Marilyn Strickland became the first Korean-American woman ever elected to Congress and the first Black woman to represent her state at the federal level. Missouri’s Cori Bush became the first Black woman elected to represent the state in Congress. Michele Rayner became the first Black queer woman elected to the Florida legislature.
One state is now entirely represented by WOC
After several decades of this country being almost exclusively run by white men, one state said not anymore.
New Mexico is now entirely represented in the House by women of color. Terese Leger Fernandez (D), Deb Haaland (D), and Yvette Herrel (R) all won their seats. Herrel is also the first Republican member of the Cherokee nation ever elected to Congress.
More LGBTQ representation and protection
When we recently spoke with openly gay Minot councilwoman, Carrie Evans, she helped us feel hopeful that more queer people would be elected to political office and gay Americans would be better represented and protected. She was right.
Ohio’s Charmaine McGuffey became the first woman and the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to be elected the sheriff of Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati. Delaware’s Sarah McBride became the first transgender state senator in the U.S. She is now the highest-ranking transgender person in the nation’s history. Nevada became the first state to include same-sex marriage protection in its state constitution.
Paid family leave passed
The need for paid family leave in the event illness could not be more timely. The pandemic has shown us just how difficult staying employed can be when faced with any kind of medical issue.
Colorado became the first state to pass a paid leave program, which provides 12 to 16 weeks of paid leave for new parents, those dealing with a serious illness, or those caring for someone with a medical condition.
Workers are going to be better supported
Service industry workers have been hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic. But at least for Floridians working minimum wage jobs, there is finally some good news. Florida became the 8th state to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage.