by Lauren Vella
The 2018 Midterm Election:
An Awakening and A Rainbow Wave In the days following the 2018 midterm elections, a sigh of relief reverberated throughout the liberal recesses of the nation. Democratic candidates managed to deliver on the party’s promise of a “blue wave” that would wash over the country and flip red seats on election day. And although the Democratic Party lost incumbent seats in the Senate, they picked up at least 38 seats in the House, thus ending the GOP vise grip on both houses of the United States Congress. While this election proved to be a major win for Democrats, the results also showed evidence of a “pink” and “rainbow” wave as well. One hundred twelve women won seats in both chambers of Congress— the highest number of women to serve in the legislature in United States history. An astonishing number of candidates of color won races across the country, and over 400 LGBTQ candidates ran for seats this year, 153 of whom won. LGBTQ candidates made huge strides in historically red states where anti-LGBTQ legislation and insufficient representation plagued local government. In Kansas, Sharice Davids became the first openly gay congresswoman to represent her state. She is also one of the first Native American women elected to Congress. Kyrsten Sinema made U.S. history by being the first openly bisexual woman to be elected to a Senate seat. In Colorado, Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor of any state in the country. The state of Rhode Island was also touched by the “blue wave.” In fact, our historically blue state became an even
darker shade of blue this November at the local level. Most notably, East Greenwich flipped its Town Council from Republican to Democrat, and the state legislature became overwhelmingly Democratic in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Rhode Island also had many female candidates, several of whom won their local races;it held fast to its LGBTQ representation. State Senator Donna Nesselbush and Representative David Cicilline—two openly LGBTQ candidates—will return to their respective offices in the coming year. On a municipal level, the Providence City Council has also seen a remarkable demographic shift. For the first time ever, the Providence City Council Rachel Miller will be comprised of a female majority, many of whom are women of color. The council will also welcome Rachel Miller from Ward 13—the first openly queer council member to be elected to this position. When asked about how her queer identity affected the way she ran her campaign, Miller remarked that she was honored to “provide visibility and representation, especially for young people or anyone struggling with their identity.” The newly elected council member also intimated that her identity did not determine the way that she ran her campaign. However, she was sure to recognize the road paved by brave members of the community that allowed her to focus on the issues rather than defending her identity.
Options | December 2018 / January 2019
“It was primarily my background as a community organizer for economic and racial justice that informed my campaign. Being queer is just one part of my identity, as it is for all of my LGBTQ family, but really just a few years ago it would have been controversial to the point of defining my campaign.” Miller is ready to take her seat on the Providence City Council along with three other newly elected women—a significant change of which she is highly aware. Miller acknowledged that diversity does not guarantee that change will come, but she hopes that this new City Council will come together and make significant structural and equitable change. Her first order of business is to work on a sustainable taxation policy that would allow all Providence citizens to enjoy long-term economic growth and protect working people and neighborhoods. “I also look forward to bringing our tax stabilization policies (a mechanism Providence uses to promote economic development) into alignment with long-term growth strategies that include protections for working people and for our neighborhoods, so that all of the residents of Providence can enjoy the benefits of a strong economy.” What caused this democratic surge in the Ocean State? According to Rhode Island State Representative Deborah Ruggiero, an out lesbian, “There has been an awakening after the 2016 election.” The temperature set by the current administration has had a drastic effect on the way Americans cast their votes. Nationwide, people realized that it is important to participate in America’s democracy for fear that their rights as citizens
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