I will be updating this article throughout the night as election results tally.
Update: The first Native American women AND the first Muslim women were elected to Congress today. America has elected more women to office than in any previous election!
It's Election Day here in the United States! This is our midterm election season, which means that we're electing people to local, state, and federal government. Specifically at the federal level, we're choosing who will represent our districts in the House, our state in the Senate. I won't go into a dry run-down of how our federal government functions; instead, I'll just say - these are the people who literally write and pass our laws. Women have only had the right to vote in the United States for about 53 years. I'm counting that from the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which effectively secured the vote for black women 45 years after they legally received the right to vote in 1920. Even 53 years deep, women don't hold half of political seats - yet. Why? In part because many women choose to have children. And having a family works against their career ambitions.
It shouldn't. It absolutely shouldn't work that way. But we all know it does. I've written myself about my own work-life balance as a mother; since then, I've left the full-time workforce. That choice works for me and my family, but I have no aspirations to attain political office. And if I did, this gap in my work history would be a game-ending move. I digress.
The point I'm here to make is this: being a mother makes women exceptionally prepared for political office. More women - and specifically, more mothers - should be pursuing and gaining seats in the House and the Senate. Here's why.
Being a parent is a public act - that is, it's a life choice that is visible to everyone in society. Our children are revealing little creatures. When our house is in order and our children's souls are nourished, it shows. And the opposite - disorder, neglect, chaos - it also shows. You can't hide irresponsible parenting. Eventually, it will catch up with you. It's no secret that women are held to a higher standard as parents than are men. In a political campaign, nothing is sacred; that is, if a candidate has skeletons or an unkempt house, they will come out during the race. And so, we can trust this: a mother who is running as a candidate will either have an impeccable track record or responsible life choices (including her parenting), OR any misconduct will come to light.
Parenting is not a sprint - it is a relentless marathon. Women who choose to become parents do so knowing that a very small human will rely on them for literally every aspect of life. From birth, they will need to be touched and fed, bathed and burped. That tiny baby will flourish in a home of order and routine. So mothers are dependable. They don't quit when things get rough. There is no such thing as a "mom flu" - so when the going gets tough, the mothers get going. And they'd do the same in Congress.
Invested In The Future
Parents - both moms and dads - are invested in the future, of course. Mothers who are politically involved know that their vote, or their work in their office, will shape the future of their community. When you have children, the promise to build a better future isn't just empty words. It might be easier to work against the best interest of total strangers; it's inhuman to work against your own children's best interests. Plus, teenagers are mouthy and they will let you hear it if your voting record stinks.
Some say that becoming a mother is accepting that your heart will now walk around outside of your body. It's a call to see things from the perspective of others, especially from the perspective of those who are helpless to control the circumstances of their own life. Children cannot choose the world they are born into, and parents cannot perfectly protect their children from the harshness of reality. But letting your heart walk around outside your body teaches you something. It teaches you that the world isn't about you. It teaches you to care about the people that those in power have overlooked. It teaches you that even the least of these can hold the most profound wisdom.
Mothers make exceptional candidates. They are smart, resourceful, and committed. And regardless of political party affiliation, I applaud the mothers who won their race tonight. You go, mama!
Mom-umental Election Results
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina
Veronica Escobar, Texas (Texas's first Latina Congresswoman)
Val Demings, Florida
Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon
Suzan DelBene, Washington
Susan Brooks, Indiana
Susan Ellis Wild, Pennsylvania
Stephanie Murphy, Florida
Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas
Robin Kelly, Illinois
Rashida Tlaib, Michigan (First Muslin Woman In Congress)
Pramila Jayapal, Washington
Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey
Mary Gay Scanlon, Pennsylvania
Martha Roby, Alabama
Abigal Spanberger, Virginia