As it says in the Nina Simone song: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day… and I’m feeling good.”
This morning, we awoke to a country where the Democrats will control the House of Representatives — a major step forward for the whole checks and balances thing. It’s a morning where our new House will, for the first time, have over 100 female representatives — including the first Native American women elected to Congress, the first Muslim women to represent their states in the House, and not one but two Jewish women veterans.
The “future is female” is perhaps the most important part of the story — not only because equal representation in government is crucial in order to make sure that all voices are heard. For too long, issues that impact every single woman in this country, from health care to family leave, have been decided, in large part, by men.
The needle is moving, and the ground is shaking: When more women run for office and win, then it encourages even more women to attempt candidacies of their own. This is true at the local level all the way to the federal level.
But let’s zoom in even closer. Let me give you a look into my own home district, New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, where Democratic challenger Tom Malinowski defeated incumbent Republican Leonard Lance in a real nail-biter that came down to around two percentage points. I’m personally invested in this race: I think the world of our new Congressman and have been volunteering extensively for the campaign. But the story isn’t me — it’s ALL the educated suburban women like me who decided that they never wanted to feel like they did the morning after Election Day 2016, and they decided to do something about it.
I saw women in this election cycle mobilize like they never had before. So, so many women decided it was time to put their anger and frustration with this country to good use, so they rolled up their proverbial sleeves and got to work. So many women who had never canvassed or phone banked or campaigned before didn’t let that stop them: they got in on the ground floor and did the damn work.
If it hadn’t been for the endless postcard writing, door knocking, phone calling, and vote chasing of women by women, I believe the results of this election would have been very different. The women I’m talking about, by the way, have been told in various ways throughout their lives that they were and are “less than.” My friend Uyen Khuong’s work with Action Together New Jersey galvanized a state to turn it blue. My law school friend, Saily Avelenda, got Democrat Mikie Sherrill elected by heading up 11th for Change in her New Jersey district, a grassroots movement that I bet will be studied in political science classes of the future. These women are fierce mothers who don’t do “no.”
Women. All the women. They inspire each other, they inspire the nation, and they inspire their children. This is what democracy looks like. This is what action looks like. And now, this is starting to be what government looks like. And thanks to the women, the needle is shifting. It’s going to be a better world for all of us.