- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: at 29 she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress
- Jared Polis: First Openly gay Governor of Colorado
- Jenny Durkan: First openly lesbian Mayor of Seattle
- Danica Roem: First transgender woman elected in Virginia statehouse
- Andrea Jenkins: First openly transgender black woman elected to Minneapolis City Council
- Vi Lyles: First black Mayor Charlotte, NC
- Kathy Tran: First Asian American woman and daughter of Vietnamese refugees elected to VA House of Delegates
- Tyler Titus: First transgender person elected to public office in PA
- Sheila Oliver: First black Lieutenant Governor of NJ
- Sharice Davids: First openly lesbian Native American woman elected to Congress
- Deb Haaland: First Native American woman elected to Congress
- Kim Reynolds: Iowa’s first female Governor
- Rachel Rollins: Massachusetts first black Attorney General
- Janet Mills: Maine’s first female Governor
- Marsha Blackburn: Tennessee’s first female Senator
- Catalina Cruz: New York’s first DREAMer elected to public office
- Susan Ruiz and Brian Woodard: Kansas’s first openly gay lawmakers
- Eliza Guzman and Hala Ayala: First Latina women elected to Virginia House of Delegates
This incomplete list represents the growing number of legislators and leaders in the United States who are GLBTQI, culturally diverse, female, or people of color. What is significant is not the number of seats won and where they were won, it is a commentary on the changing political landscape of the United States. It is a hopeful sign in the midst of much that seems hopeless. It is a step toward a government of the people by the people and for the people. The election of such diverse national and state leaders is a clear signal that how we do business as a nation is going to change. The under-served populations are finding and claiming their voices.
We are a nation of immigrants, children of immigrants, slaves, children of slaves and native peoples. We have not been well represented by white patriarchy, big business and profit making corporations. We have not been well served by back room business deals and quid pro quo politics which make promises that benefit a few.
By changing leaders we change the narrative. When we elect single mothers the conversation includes affordable child care and housing. When we elect Native peoples the conversation includes righting historic injustices. When we elect people of color the conversation includes combating the racism that still runs through the fabric of our society. When we elect LGBTQI people the conversation includes equal rights. When we elect educators and health care professionals the conversation includes public education and health care as basic human rights. When we elect people who represent values over political alliances, country over political party and responsible world citizenship over narrow nationalism, we begin to ask different questions:
- How do we live as responsible global citizens in a global economy?
- What kind of planet do we want to leave to our children and our children’s children?
- How do we embody a public ethic of love and respect for all people?
- How do we build a sustainable economy that benefits all people?
- How can we be responsible to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our country and our world?
- When will we learn to work together for common sense gun control and hold the out of control gun lobby and its bought and paid for legislators accountable?
Mark Twain said that politicians and diapers need to be changed regularly, and for the same reason. This is a move in the right direction. Our political system works when we participate. If you voted, thank you. If you didn’t vote, think about why and remember it is a right denied to many.
If “your” candidates didn’t win, don’t withdraw from the political process. Continue to ask the questions that will make our world a better place for everyone. Think beyond “you” and “yours” and include those whose needs are different from yours. Realize you are a citizen of a global community. Practice generosity. Seek the well-being of others.