I didn’t stay up all night watching election results roll in from across the country. It would have been way too stressful. But I did check the results as soon as I woke up the next morning and saw that a record number of women won elections.
According to the L.A Times, 121 women were elected: one hundred to the House, twelve to the Senate, and nine as governor. Many of these women were the first women ever to be elected to their various positions. November 6th was also a major win for women from minority groups. Latina women, Muslim women, Black women, and Native American women all won their respective races.
But not with the help of white women—most of whom voted against their personal interests in favor of Republican candidates. It’s not surprising. 53% of white women voted for Trump, even after his lewd comments became known to the public. According to a CNN exit poll, 49% of white women voted Republican while 49% voted Democrat during this election. It’s a small shift but possibly indicative of more changes to come. Perhaps white women will finally realize that the Republican Party doesn’t represent their best interests.
Most of this has been a backlash to Trump’s blatant misogyny and is the next logical step in the #MeToo movement. Women in positions of power have the ability to stand up for themselves in ways that they didn’t have before. Being in political office means not being beholden to the will of others.
Jane C, Timm, from NBC, notes: “These women didn’t just break records, they set the political playbook on fire by throwing out the conventional wisdom that women must be twice as qualified, twice as polished and twice as careful as their male counterparts to mount a successful bid. In past years, women ran first for state and local offices, but this year’s contest attracted fighter pilots, teachers, executives, nurses and moms so fed up with politics they decided to run themselves.”
The women who ran are everyday heroes. Not career politicians who have the perfect upbringing and an education that groomed them for life in the public eye. These are the women who work hard to make a difference in their everyday lives and have a passion for helping others. These women have no prior electoral experience and had previously watched from the sidelines. They saw that now was finally their chance to speak out and they grabbed it. And that tenacity paid off. They now have a chance to shape public policy and effect real and lasting change. They’ll act as role models for the next generation of girls and women, and show them that women can achieve whatever they set out to do.
If there was ever a time to be hopeful about the future, it’s now.
Politics have long been the arena of the men. But not anymore. Fifty percent of this country are fed up with being overlooked and excluded from making decisions that directly affect them. Why should a bunch of old men be making decisions for me? I, along with many others, want decisions relating to healthcare, workplace equality, and education, made by people who can actually relate to those issues in the same way that I do. I want to them to make decisions that take women like me into account.
Every single woman who voted sent a message: We want a seat at the table and we won’t back down until we get it.