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By now, you surely know their names: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Ilhan Omar; Rashida Tlaib; Ayanna Pressley; Deb Haaland; Sharice Davids.
These first-term Congresswomen are the new faces of liberal politics on the national level, pushing policies like the Green New Deal, Medicaid For All and more.
This wave of representation comes after Hillary Clinton’s failed run for the presidency in 2016, and as Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, prepare to run for president.
These women are largely progressive, capitalizing on what seems like an unprecedented level of engagement with politics. But amid the #MeToo movement, and during the presidency of a man with a history of making lewd comments about women, observers would be mistaken for saying new representatives are only talking about issues related to being women.
Here’s journalist and feminist critic Rebecca Traister, writing in the summer of 2018 about Elizabeth Warren’s (at the time, potential) presidential bid.
In the very near past, much of Warren’s agenda would have been considered untenably far left, but now it’s practically standard for serious Democratic contenders. She wants to reverse the new corporate tax benefits and invest in stemming the opioid crisis, bring college costs down, institute single-payer health care, alleviate consumer debt, strenuously regulate financial institutions. She talks about passing the Dream Act and enacting humane immigration reform, shrinking the race and gender wage gaps, remaking the criminal-justice system — “instead of jailing some kid who gets caught with a few ounces of pot, let’s put the banker who financed the drug deals in jail” — and passing a constitutional amendment to establish the unfettered right of eligible Americans to vote.
And to get this message out, many new Representatives are connecting with constituents in new ways, like livestreaming their meal prep plans on Instagram while discussing other issues of importance.
But what about conservative women? Only 19 of the 123 women in Congress are Republicans. What’s behind this imbalance, and what is the experience of women who lean right?
And what will be the long-term effects of the wave of new representation in Congress?
Produced by Bianca Martin. Text by Gabrielle Healy.
- Michelle "Mikki" Hebl Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychological Sciences and Management, Rice University
- Sabrina Schaeffer Member, board of directors at RightNow; Chair, Leadership Circle at the Independent Women’s Forum, formerly executive director; @SL_Schaeffer
- Amanda Rentaria Board Chair, Emerge America; former National Political Director for Hillary for America; first Latina Chief of Staff in the United States Senate @AmandaRenteria
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