|The American people have spoken. Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris!|
Over the past couple months in my #WomanUp blog series, I’ve been writing about women and this election, focused on the central idea that women, a supermajority of voters, could be the deciders in this election if we showed up on Election Day.
Data on the breakdown of voting by gender is still coming in, so I’m going to write about that next week. We do know that women voted in record numbers, as did the whole country, and that’s certainly good news — to have a more engaged citizenry.
What doesn’t feel so good is the big divide that the breakdown of votes in nearly every state indicates. We are a divided nation. More divided than ever and that is the work ahead — healing, restoring, reaching out across our differences, listening deeply and finding common ground.
But first I want to focus on my home state of Georgia and the happy dance I have to admit I was doing early Friday morning when it became clear that Georgia is finally turning blue. We’re still counting here, but if the trend continues, President-Elect Biden would be the first Democratic president elected in Georgia in nearly three decades!
Earlier this year, I wrote about the democracy movement in my home state highlighting a few of the many women leaders who have been doing the work to make the state’s politics more reflective of its changing demographics.
This would be a major victory. One that so many of us have worked for and hoped for all year. One that is largely due to leaders like Stacey Abrams.
“10 years ago, [Democratic] party leaders wrote us off,” Stacey Abrams said at a Biden-Harris event before Election Day. “But since that time we have been growing and growing … and now we’re grown! We are ready to be the blue state that we were meant to be.”
After being thwarted by voter suppression and fraud in her campaign to become governor in 2018, Stacey dedicated herself to continue registering new voters in the state and across the country, building on the work of the New Georgia Project and others with her Fair Fight Action initiative which has registered more than 800,000 new voters in Georgia alone.
Along with Stacey, so many of us in Georgia have been making Good Trouble for a long time — standing up, speaking up, and showing up — honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young and especially the original Good Troublemaker, Congressman John Lewis. Today’s leaders, including Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff (who are in run-offs to be Georgia’s next Senators), will continue that progress.
We’ll have to wait for all the votes to be counted, but if Georgia comes through and delivers its electoral votes to the President-Elect, it will be because of the advocacy of Georgia’s leaders from across many sectors — especially Atlanta’s African American community, leaders in the state’s faith communities and so many others who have been working for change in our state. I’m feeling proud to be a native born Georgian today, but while it feels like the arc is bending towards justice, as Martin Luther King, Jr. predicted, we know there are bridges to be built, and hearts and minds to be opened.
Updates on #WomanUp Featured Races
This year, some 296 women — 202 Democrats and 94 Republicans — ran for Congress, with many states seeing unprecedented contests with women being the only choice on the ballot. That’s true progress. Not as far as we need to go, but if this election also leads to a woman of color becoming the Vice President, there will certainly be more to celebrate.
In the House, Rep. Lucy McBath was reelected to her seat in the House in Georgia’s 6th District. Rep. Sharice David won in a tight race in Kansas. Rep. Lauren Underwood is running behind her opponent in Illinois, but by less than 1,000 votes. The counting there goes on. Lauren is a very strong legislator, having done such important work during her freshman term, and it would be so sad to lose her in the House.
In my WomanUP Senate blog, I highlighted some good men who were running in key races across the country. Of that group, Mark Kelly in Arizona has been declared the winner by the AP and both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are very likely to be in run-offs this January. If all three of these good men win their races, the Senate will be 50/50. The future balance of the Senate will be decided in Georgia.
Under-the-Radar Victories to Celebrate
In New Mexico where, for the first time, the state will be sending an all women of color delegation to the House. “Democrat Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women in Congress, was elected to a second term in the 1st Congressional District; Republican Yvette Herrell, a member of Cherokee Nation, defeated the incumbent in a closely-watched race in the 2nd; and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez was elected to represent the 3rd District, the first woman to hold the seat since its creation in 1983.”
In Delaware, Sarah McBride won her state Senate race, making her poised to become the first and only openly transgender state senator in the U.S. and the country’s highest-ranking transgender official.
In Los Angeles for the first time since the board’s inception more than 150 years ago, the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors will consist of all women, each of whom comes with significant backgrounds in politics and government.
“I can’t think of another example in the entire United States where you will have five women having control of … the largest county in the entire country just in terms of people, but also the largest county budget in the entire country,” Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, a professor and chair of gender studies at USC, told the LA Times.
So now, we celebrate. But I want to go out sharing this viral tweet that Kamala Harris’s niece, Meena, posted on Election Day. For context, Harris’s four-year-old great niece wants to be both president and an astronaut one day.
There’s still a lot to unpack and understand, coming out of this contentious and still contested election, and I will be attempting to offer some ways forward for the healing, the restoration and reconciliation. For now, I’m going to feel joyful.
As one friend commented when Georgia went blue on the election map: “Being ‘Blue’ never felt so good!”