Election Yields Historic Firsts for Marginalized Legislators
Olivia Allery, staff writer
Hopeful changemakers with marginalized identities have been shut out of U.S. politics for centuries. However, marginalized legislators have recently made great headway in pushing into the political sphere, culminating in the historic victories of a number of 2020 election candidates who are the first members of their communities to be elected on the federal or national stage.
Sarah McBride is a democratic senator from Delaware who will be the first openly transgender senator to be elected nationwide and the nation’s highest-ranking transgender elected official. She hopes that her victory will inspire others after her, saying on her Twitter after her historic win that she hopes “tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that politics is big enough for them, too.”
Cori Bush is a Democratic elect to the Missouri District 1 congress. Cori is the first Black congresswoman to be elected in the state of Missouri, and she hopes to use her previous experiences serving her community as a single mother, nurse and medic during the 2014 Ferguson protests to inform her new work. “Working class people need representatives who look like them and who have experienced their struggles,” Bush said on Twitter after the election. “I am that champion.”
Tennessee has elected two LGBTQ+ legislators to their General Assembly. Torrey Harris is a member of the Democratic party and will be representing Memphis District 90. On the other side of the spectrum we have Eddie Mannis, a member of the Republican party who will be representing Knox County’s District 18.
After their election to Oklahoma’s 88th House District, Mauree Turner is breaking barriers – not only for being the first Muslim legislator in Oklahoma, but also for being the nation’s first openly non-binary legislator. In a statement following the election, they reflected on the importance of representation. “As a child, I honestly remember having conversations with my mom where I thought that things would just be better if I was white, or if I was just different in some way, shape or form, so, it means a lot to be able to provide that visibility for other folks.”
New Mexico is also the first state to elect all women of color to the House. Native American congresswomen Deb Haaland is a member of the Pueblo tribe and has won her reelection for the House. Her, along with Tearsa Leger Fernandaz, who is Latinx and won the 3rd Congressional District, are both members of the Democratic party. Yvette Herrell is a member of the Cherokee nation. She will be representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District as a member of the Republican party.
Kamala Harris has made history, as no one with any of her intersecting marginalized identities – being Black, South Asian, and a woman – has served as Vice President before. First running her own presidential campaign, Kamala joined the ticket as Joe Biden’s running mate and will now be taking office as Vice President in 2021.
These candidates are only a few of the many historical changemakers who secured spots in office during this election season, taking a significant step towards balancing the distribution of power in the nation after it has been dominated by straight white men for so long.