In a landmark victory across the nation, the 2012 elections gave seats to 20 women senators, the most ever in U.S. history. From newcomers like Elizabeth Warren (D – MA) to seasoned veterans like Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), the 2012 senate will feature 4 republican and 16 democratic women senators from Hawaii to Massachusetts.
Unique to this senatorial race was the election of Mazie Hirono, the first Asian-American woman senator from the state of Hawaii, and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator from Wisconsin. (Washington Post)
Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator from Wisconsin
Although nowhere near an accurate representation of the American public (51% of whom are women), this is a continued shift in acceptance of women in politics. These trends are also reflected in a few other historically targeted identity groups: 44 African-Americans in the house (although 0 in the senate), 28 latinos in the house and 3 in the senate, 2 Asian-Americans in the senate, the first buddhist senator, and 2 hindu congressmen will join the 113th congress. (Barbara Talley WordPress) While the diversification of the congress is but a small victory in a long history of an ‘unrepresentative representation democracy’, it is a victory nonetheless!
Mazie Hirono, the first Asian-American Senator from Hawaii
“When we have our dinners with the women in the Senate — the Democrats and Republicans — we have so much common ground. We agree on so many basic principles and values. I think if there were more women at the decision-making table, we would get more things done.” Said Kristen Gillibrand (D – NY) on the importance of having women in the senate. (Huffington Post)
However, simply because one is a women does not imply that they will agree with the opinion of others from their same gender identity group, even in matters of abortion and other matters that directly affect them. The perfect example is Michelle Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota, whose infamous pro-life stance puts her in opposition to her other female counterparts.
Michele Bachmann, pr0-life congresswoman
In an interview with the National Review, she stated, “I am 100 percent pro-life. I’ve given birth to five babies, an I’ve taken 23 foster children into my home. I believe in the dignity of life from conception until natural death. I believe in the sanctity of human life. Our Declaration of Independence said it’s a creator who endowed us with inalienable rights given to us from God, not from government. And the first of those rights is life. And I stand for that right.” (Ontheissue.org)
In my opinion, it’s important to elect those who truly represent us. And while our identities, whether that be gender, racial, religious, ability-based, or based on our sexual orientation, may ultimately affect how we share certain ideologies, it’s important to elect representatives for the right reason and not simply because they are women, african-american, or anything else.