Congressional elections bring influx of diversity

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Katelyn Chu

Vice-president elect Kamala Harris speaks to supporters.

Katelyn Chu, Staff writer

The 2020 election broke barriers by introducing new pioneers in politics. Kamala Harris will become the first South Asian, African American and woman to hold public office as the vice president. Furthermore, Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres from New York were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as the first Black gay Congressmen. In New Mexico, all three of the candidates elected for the House were women of color.

Harris is no stranger to breaking barriers in politics. In 2010, she became the first female, South Asian and Black attorney general of California. When she successfully ran for senator in 2017, she also became the second Black woman elected to the senate.

“I think that Kamala’s victory definitely changed the trajectory for Black and Asian women because it shows that even a [person of color] can be a great leader,” sophomore Sai Banala said.

Torres and Jones are contributing to newfound diversity in Congress as well. Both men won their elections by a landslide; according to Ballotpedia, Ritchie Torres defeated his opponent, Republican Patrick Delices, by a margin of over 117,000 votes. Similarly, Mondaire Jones defeated his opponent, Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman, by a margin of 35,000 votes.

“[Torres’ and Ritchie’s victories] are absolutely incredible because people of color and the LGBTQ community need to be represented in the government,” junior Yukta Ramanan said.

The election also placed a record number of Republican women into office. Thirty-five Republican women will join Congress in 2021, which is 13 more than in 2019. According to CNN, 55 Republican women won their initial primaries, the main reason for their success. 

“It’s great that diversity isn’t mutually exclusive to the Democratic party,” Ramanan said. “I envision the future of both parties being more diverse because, historically, we’re changing as a society.”

New Mexico, a traditionally blue state, elected a House delegate fully composed of women of color. Democrat Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, was re-elected to her seat while Republican Yvette Herrell, who identifies as Cherokee, and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, who identifies as Latina, will be freshmen congresswomen. 

“It’s important for diverse people to be in leadership positions because diverse leaders pave a path for different points of view and more ways to compromise and work together for the greater good,” sophomore Abhi Karthana said.

Diverse leaders pave a path for different points of view and more ways to compromise and work together for the greater good”

— Abhi Karthana

In addition, the first Black representative from Missouri, Cori Bush, was elected in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement during June. Her victory contributes to an increase in African American and female representatives and greater diversity in Congress. According to the LA Times, the 117th cycle of Congress will consist of at least 141 women, which is 14 more women than in 2019. 

It’s important for diverse people to be in leadership positions because diverse leaders pave a path for different points of view and more ways to compromise and work together for the greater good “It is crucial to have a community in leadership with people of all backgrounds,” Banala said. “With more diversity, the younger generation will be inspired and feel unstoppable.”