United States | November 30, 2016 at 9:00 am

A Silver Lining for Democrats

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California Senator-elect Kamala Harris

On November 8, Democrats across the country took a very hard hit with the election of Donald Trump as president, along with enough incumbent members of Congress to maintain the status quo of Republican control of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. This holy trifecta of party control, coupled with the nomination of a conservative Supreme Court justice will give Republicans an almost unfettered path to enact a conservative agenda, likely undoing most of the progressive social and economic policies of the Obama administration.

While Democrats have a tough path ahead of them at the national level, liberals can point to a smattering of breakthrough electoral victories at the state and local level. Four women—three of whom are women of color—were elected to the United States Senate. Chief among these rising stars is Kamala Harris, the widely popular attorney general of California, and only the second African-American female in history elected to the United States Senate. Other standouts include Tammy Duckworth, an Asian-American double amputee veteran of the Iraq war, who defeated incumbent Senator Mark Kirk for his seat representing Illinois, campaigning heavily on issues like veteran affairs and national defense.

In Georgia, Sam Park was elected to the General Assembly as its first openly gay man in the state legislature, beating out incumbent Valerie Clark, a supporter of HB 757, an anti-gay “religious liberty” bill in the Georgia legislature.

Finally, in Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who spent four years of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp fleeing the Somalian civil war, defeated an incumbent state representative to become the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States.

This dichotomy present between the electoral successes of both Donald Trump and these extremely diverse and historic down-ballot candidates may be able to provide Democrats with some sliver of hope for the future electoral success of progressive, millennial candidates. Additionally, a wide range of liberal ballot initiatives succeeded last Tuesday, including recreational marijuana legalization in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine.

Regardless of the results of this presidential election, America’s demographics and electorate are in fact changing: becoming less white, more urban, and more socially liberal—a trend that eventually will benefit the Democratic Party if they can figure out how to more effectively turn out their increasingly large yet scattered diverse electorate.

Image Credit: Lonnie Tague for the Department of Justice/Wikimedia

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