U.S. midterm elections: Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and other diverse trailblazers who have made history
Draining the swamp
In Colorado, Congressman Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a U.S. state. Polis joins the company of governor Kate Brown of Oregan who identifies as bisexual. This victory is a step towards dismantling Colorado's reputation as a "Hate State", which it acquired after a constitutional amendment received a majority vote in 1992 to stop protections for the LGBTQ community in the state.
Democrat Sharice Davids became the first Native American to be elected to Congress, alongside Deb Haaland in New Mexico. Davids is also a lesbian, making her the first openly LGBTQ person to represent Kansas in Congress. Native Americans have been victims of discrimination at the polls and voter suppression in the past. Add to that, the Standing Rock protest and a disproportionately high rate of violence and sexual assault against Native American women have been documented in 2018. While there are currently two Native American male members of Congress, Davids and Haaland are expected to be progressive voices on women's right and the environment.
At only 29 years of age, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. She is also the first representative to accurately reflect the demographics of her district, which has never had a person of colour represent it in history even though it mainly consists of people of colour and immigrants. Ocasio-Cortez made headlines when she revealed that she might not be able to move to Washington D.C. in time before her job in Congress starts in January because she is struggling to afford the sky-high rents; a millennial sentiment that reflects the super-liberal thrust of her campaign.
Democrat Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American elected to Congress. She and Michigan's Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to Congress as well. Omar came to the U.S. 20 years ago as a refugee from Somalia. She made pro-immigration policies one of the pillars of her campaigns, pushing hard against the current administration's prevailing "Muslim ban", immigrant family separation at the border and other nationalistic rhetoric.
Ayanna Pressley is the first black woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Her surprise victory was a result of the vision she outlined during her campaign: "I will be focused on lifting up the voices of those in the community, partnering with activists and residents, and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power, driving and informing the policy-making."