Editorial: The new wave, the open door
By Richard Gaw
“If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1979-1990
To the political pundits who predicted that a Blue Tsunami would turn both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate over to the Democrats after the mid-term elections were tallied, you were only partially correct, but no matter. Here's the real tsunami that emerged:
With her election on Nov. 6, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District is poised to head to Washington, D.C. in January as one of 100 women who are projected to win seats in the House of Representatives. Previously, women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House.
At the same time, Christina Sappey will take her seat as the Pa. State Representative for the 158th District.
It is projected that the number of women in the new U.S. Senate will at least match the current Senate, which has 23 women. Women have emerged victorious so far in nine races for governor. Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Republican Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first female Senator. Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Republican Kristi Noem became South Dakota’s first female governor and, at the age of 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York will become the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In the wake of our current political climate, seen in marches, rallies, TV commentary and in over-the-internet rancor, these elections have emerged as the silver lining in the cloud of our discourse. In short, it's a political about face, the likes of which our country has never witnessed in such numbers, and one whose roots likely formed as an organized revolt against the polices, practices and principles of Washington. Slowly, through grassroots campaigns and with door-to-door enthusiasm, these campaigns seemed to take control of the nation's emotional wheel and never relinquished speed or navigation.
It's the latest stop of a wave whose current poured through Chester County in 2017, when Patricia Maisano, Margaret Reif, Yolanda Van De Krol and Dr. Christina Vandepol were all elected to County row offices, an election that not only placed a dent in the 200-year-old Republican guard of county politics, but gave it a new and emerging voice.
While it is right to claim these victories as a win for feminism, women's rights and the #MeToo movement, it is trite to merely lay them at the altar of these podiums of equality and walk away. These elections are not a referendum on normalizing female authority, because female authority has already been normalized in every sector of our most honored professions, institutions and industries.
Rather, these victories are like a giant door being swung open, with an invitation to lead, irregardless of gender.
And, while it is anyone's guess as to what these newly-elected lawmakers will do with that invitation in Washington, D.C., in Harrisburg and in governor's seats across the nation, there is the hope that their presence, insight and narrative will will continue to change the face of American politics for the better, and forever. The door is very much open, and the invitations are in their hands.