The 2016 United States presidential election has left many Americans discouraged and uncertain about the future of our country.
Leading up to the election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was anticipated to hold office and to become our first female president. Although Clinton was not elected, the public perception of the election’s results has been wrongly focused on the magnitude of her loss, instead of the victories of other inspirational women who were elected to political positions.
We cannot allow our disappointment in the presidential election to consume our vision of democracy and taint the way we perceive the progress of women in politics. Although Americans will not see Clinton as our champion in the Oval Office in the upcoming four years, we can look to other places in our government in order to find women who will represent women in politics.
While arguably warranted, the cynicism surrounding the 2016 election has consequently overshadowed monumental political victories that have occurred. Many women and minorities were elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, showcasing that America’s democracy is capable of prevailing and denouncing the lack of diversity it was once defined by.
Catherine Cortez Masto was elected as the first Latina senator and Tammy Duckworth as the second Asian-American, the first Thai-American and the first female decorate war veteran to serve as a senator.
Furthermore, Kamala Harrish is the first Indian-American senator and Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the House. Stephanie Murphy is the first Vietnamese-American woman to be elected to Congress, Kate Brown is the first openly LGBTQ+ governor and Ilhan Omar was elected as the first Somali-American Muslim female legislator.
Due to these specific women’s perseverance and their refusal to abide by traditional political and societal demographics, many young girls and minorities can now look to the Senate and the House to see strong, female politicians who represent them. This is especially important considering the current political climate fostering aggressive sexism.
It is essential that we, as a country, re-direct our pessimism following the results of the election. Instead, the country should focus its energy on celebrating the elected women who have made significant progressive strides in breaking the political glass ceiling. In a time when so many Americans are worried for their futures, all we can do is look into the ways that we have progressed and the ways that we can continue to do so.
A century ago, women didn’t have the right to vote. As a woman in 2016, I look to our government to see how far our country has come in terms of gender equality. Although there are countless more reforms that still need to be achieved and there are indisputable struggles ahead for our nation, taking the time to celebrate the positive aspects of the 2016 election is imperative.