Mrs. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland both carry a unique epithet. Being the first Native American women to become elected to the United States Congress representing the Democratic Party, they are part of the special flavor of this November’s midterm election result, which saw Democrats take back the House of Representatives. They are not alone. Alongside them stand newly appointed Senator Jared Polis from Colorado (Dem), the first-ever openly gay man to have been elected to Congress, and Rashida Tlaib (Dem) and Ilhan Omar (Dem), the first Muslim women to ever win seats in the Capitol.
Furthermore, without being able to conquer a majority of the Senate, the Democratic Party fields a clear majority of the elected female candidates. In total, the share of female lawmakers in each respective party is very skewed, with the Democrats including slightly more than 40 percent of female lawmakers, while the GOP only accounts for 8 percent. This has strayed some discontent among Republicans, not the least with Sarah Chamberlain, president, and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership. “We need to go out and get our women engaged. We are being dwarfed by the Democrats. This is something we are going to focus on.”
However, regardless of the unique nature of the result, it does not lack potential ground to its genesis. It is fair to say that the current administration’s inclusion of female legislators and popularity among American women has not been remarkable. Hardly a third of its appointees are women, with the previous Obama and Clinton administrations having two women for every five appointees. In addition, President Trump’s approval ratings among the American people, judging from the three categories college-educated, non-educated and minority, are dominated by men in all the three sets according to polls from Gallup, Quinnipiac University and NPR made in August and July this year.
“American politics has become a cycle of endless backlash, every new development followed by a reactionary counter-development, a mobilization of anger to undo what was just done. If you’re happy with how things are going at a particular moment, you shouldn’t get too comfortable, because chances are that your political opponents are looking at your victories and seething with rage, a rage they’ll be taking out at the ballot box.”
Returning to Paul Waldman, he argues that, while backlashes in American politics can be found far back in American history, the most recent cycle can be traced to the early 1990s. At this time, the Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, promised an aggressive scorched-earth policy against the Democratic Party. This tone led to Republican victories in the midterms in 1994 against the contemporary Clinton administration. Likewise, President George W. Bush suffered the nature of back-lash politics in 2006 in the aftermath of the Iraq War, with Democrats regaining control over Congress. Two years later, a senator from Illinois, Barack Obama managed to win the presidential race as the first black President of the United States.
The outcome of the midterm elections in November reminded us of the growing polarization in present-day America. Although one can never predict what the future holds, the potential shakings in the political foundation of the world’s most powerful nation will most likely prove fateful for the United States – and for the world.