The Progressive “Squad” And Other Positives From The U.S. Elections

As all of us obsessively refreshing our phones know, as of November 7th, there is still no official result confirming who will become the President of the United States for the next four years. No matter what the outcome may be, there are many positives that we can already take from this year’s U.S. election. First, the re-election of what is being labelled the ‘squad’ consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. These four women of colour have fought for, and will continue to fight for, anti-racism and oppression, climate action, healthcare for all Americans and many other progressive causes. Secondly, this year’s elections has broken several records for the LGBTQ+ community. The first transgender person elected as state senator is Sarah McBride in Delaware. Mondaire Jones is the first black gay Congressman and Ritchie Torres the first out gay afro latino member of Congress. Mauree Turner is the first non-binary and first Muslim state lawmaker in Oklahoma. As well as the election of Stephanie Byers to the Kansas state House of Representatives, a member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation, who is believed to be the first transgender person of colour elected to office anywhere in the United States. The growing backing of minority groups in the U.S. is making history highlighting that no matter what happens there is progressive change taking place in the hands of American voters.

Tweeting after the announcement that the ‘squad’ was re-elected, Omar stated, “Our sisterhood is resilient.” Ocasio-Cortez said upon being re-elected that “serving New York-14 and fighting for working-class families in Congress has been the greatest honor, privilege and responsibility of my life.” In response to the multiple LGBTQ+ ‘firsts,’ LGBTQ+ organizations spoke out in support of what Stonewall called on twitter the “rainbow wave.” Annise Parker, the CEO for LGBTQ Victory Fund, commented that Stephanie Byers’ election had “shattered a lavender ceiling in Kansas and its impact will reverberate well beyond the borders of the state.” She also declared Mauree Turner as “a trailblazer for non-binary people and their courage to run openly will inspire more non-binary people to pursue careers in elected office.” Sarah McBride said her hope was that “tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”

For many members of these minority communities, that is exactly what these results will do. Having representation in politics and progressive action encouraged by these individuals will make steps towards stopping the violence felt by these groups in the U.S. and elsewhere. It sends a message that being homophobic, transphobic, and/or racist is not accepted by the majority of the public and creates a place where structural homo/transphobia and racism can be tackled.

This is particularly important in today’s current climate. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the need to stop the violence which has been normalized against Black communities and ethnic minorities, now more than ever. For the LGBTQ+ community, the past four years of the Trump administration have been harmful particularly in the form of the reversal of health protections afforded to transgender people under the Affordable Care Act. Most recently, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court suggest that LGBTQ+ rights could be rescinded and considered less important than religious freedom, according to Pink News. For these reasons, along with many others, the good news of progressive actors and minority groups into the U.S. political system could not be needed more.

In the future, the increasing representation of minority groups—in Congress, in the Senate, and in the House of representatives—could lead to positive changes for the safety and security of these groups. It could lead to an end to violence and more consequences for those who are homophobic, transphobic, and/or racist in the U.S. No matter the presidential result, there is reason to be hopeful for the future.

Cait Jobson