The Historic Firsts of 2020 Elections During Major Crises…
This article is updated as November 2020 election results and updates are made.
Last update: 24 November 2020
by C.S. Sherin
Seeing how close the election results are this year, after all the extreme stress and anticipation, well, the feelings that came over me were deep: disappointment, alienation, disgust, tiredness, and sadness. Knowing that there are way too many people (most of them white) who voted for Trump after the last four years is deeply disturbing. The year of 2020 has done a perfect job of revealing systemic racism that has been shaped and enabled by the majority of white people, along with: institutions, corporations, some religions/spirituality sectors, and news/media outlets.
And now, no matter what a Trump voter says is their reason for voting in this way, their answer will always really mean that they voted for: continued serious and deadly attacks on people of color, women, immigrants, asylum seekers, LGBTQ+ folx, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, the environment, endangered species, and so much more.
It is very important to look at things realistically. Many peoples’ actual lives hang in the balance right now. And, a part of realism that may not be properly balanced at times, is in the realizing that bad news can outweigh and obscure the good that is happening.
The bad news and lack of accountability from leaders negatively affects mental health for so many of us, and understandably so, as the pandemic increases and there remains no financial, medical, or mental health support for so many people in great need. The votes for Trump and his administration, and for new candidates who are openly fascist and radicalized–opposed to science, reason, or freedom and dignity for all–is unconscionable (e.g., Republican House of Representative winners Madison Cawthorne of North Carolina 11th District, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s 14th District).
Let us not minimize or dismiss how deeply painful, distressing, and debilitating this time can be to the youth, to the vulnerable, and to those many targeted and harmed by the current Trump/Pence administration and their reckless enablers. Let us support and reach out to, and continue onward, for those most in pain and need right now.
At the same time, often, when we talk about seeing things realistically it means that we are ignoring, denying, or simply not seeing things as they truly are. Well, let this serve as an urgent reminder that bad news and ongoing corruption can dominate and overwhelm to the point that we miss seeing some really strong good happening. The media often plays a part in this, using intrigue, negativity, and slanted views to gain clicks and readership. Too often media and news do us a disservice and cause additional levels of unnecessary stress for self-serving purposes. For instance: polls were inaccurate, Native Americans were repeatedly erased–listed as “other” or “something else”, and too much air time was (and is) given to sound bytes of misinformation.
Being realistic also means taking stock of what is good. For this reason, it is necessary to list and illuminate some really good news and good movement happening right now. For that purpose, I have focused on non-Republican wins, though there were some firsts for Republicans as well…first women elected to represent certain states, first Native Americans elected, and the youngest elected. I am not listing those wins, however, as I wish to highlight the progress being made for women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folx, and others in need–who will be better and more fairly served by progressives, independents, environmentalists, activists, and democrats.
What is Good: Historic Election Results 2020
Diversity, integrity, and justice are moving forward–as you will see in this considerable list of firsts and re-elections of firsts! The election results this November of 2020 hold many historical, positive, important changes and affirmations for us. There were historic Democrat wins, and so much more:
*Additions and updates are made to this list while 2020 election results are still being shared and updated.
- Sarah Mc Bride, a former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC.org), is now the first transgender US State Senator for Delaware’s 1st District! Sen. Mc Bride won with 73% of the votes!
- Taylor Small, former LGBTQ Health and Wellness Director, is now the first transgender person elected to the US House of Representatives for Vermont’s 6-7th Districts! Rep. Small is 26 years old.
- Stephanie Byers, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and former public school band teacher, is now the first transgender person elected to the US House of Representatives for Kansas’ 86th District, and this country’s first transgender Native American representative!
- Ritchie Torres, New York City Council Member, is the first African American-Latino and openly gay person elected to the US House of Representatives for New York’s 15th District; and (along with Rep. Mondaire Jones) one of the first gay Black men elected to Congress! Rep. Torres won with 88% of the votes!
- Mondaire Jones is the first African American gay person elected to the US House of Representatives for New York’s 17th District; and (along with Rep. Ritchie Torres) one of the first gay Black men elected to Congress!
- Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, an educator and member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, is the first Native American elected to a county-wide office in Pima County, Arizona! She is now Pima County’s Recorder.
- Deb Haaland, an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, was re-elected to the US House of Representatives for New Mexico’s 1st District. Rep. Haaland is the first Native American woman to represent New Mexico in US Congress; and one of the first Native American women (along with Rep. Sharice Davids) elected and re-elected to Congress in this country!
- Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Latina American and attorney, was elected as Senator for New Mexico’s 3rd District!
- Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, was re-elected to the US House of Representatives for Kansas’ 3rd District. Rep. Davids is one of the first Native American women (along with Rep. Deb Haaland) elected and re-elected to Congress in this country!
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), of Puerto Rican descent and a Bronx native, was re-elected to the US House of Representatives for New York’s 14th District. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman (31 years old in 2020) to ever serve in the US Congress, and won this election with 68.8% of the votes!
- Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American US Congress member, was re-elected to the US House of Representatives for Minnesota’s 5th District. Rep. Omar is one of the first Muslim women (along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib) to be elected and re-elected to the US House of Representatives!
- Ayanna Pressley, the first person of color to serve on the Boston City Council in 2009, was re-elected to the House of Representatives for Massachusetts’ 7th District. Rep. Pressley is the first African American to represent Massachusetts in Congress! Rep. Pressley won 87% of the votes!
- Rashida Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent elected to US Congress, was re-elected to the House of Representatives for Michigan’s 7th District. Rep. Tlaib is one of the first Muslim women (along with Rep. Ilhan Omar) to be elected and re-elected to the US House of Representatives!
- Khaleel M. Anderson was elected as a New York State Assembly Member (lower house of the New York State legislature). At 24 years old, Anderson is the youngest Black candidate elected to state office!
- Adrian K. Tam, an LGBTQ advocate, was elected to the House of Representatives for Hawaii’s 22nd District. Rep. Tam is Hawaii’s only openly gay representative! Rep. Tam won 63% of the votes against his opponent (Nicholas Ochs)! This victory is especially important, since Nicholas Ochs is the leader of a local chapter of a militant white supremacist hate group, and was endorsed by Roger Stone.
- Brad Pfaff was elected as Senator for Wisconsin’s 32nd District (filling Senator Jennifer Schilling’s seat), and won by nearly 600 votes more than his opponent. This victory effectively blocked the chances for a Republican super-majority!
- Francesa Hong, a chef and restaurant owner, was elected to Wisconsin state Legislature’s 76th Assembly District (in Madison). Hong is the first Asian American elected to Wisconsin’s state office!
- Ald. Samba Baldeh, was elected to Wisconsin state Legislature’s 48th Assembly District (in Madison). Baldeh is an immigrant, an IT engineer and a former city council member. Baldeh is the first Muslim, and Dane county’s first African American elected to Wisconsin’s state office!
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have officially received more votes for President and Vice President of the US than any other candidate pair in history (and all the ballots haven’t even been counted yet)! As of November 24th, Biden-Harris have 306 electoral votes and about 80 million votes! ( Trump-Pence have 232 electoral votes and about 74 million votes.)
- Cori Bush, a nurse, pastor and single mom, was elected to Missouri’s 1st District in US Congress. Rep. Bush is Missouri’s first African American representative!
- Kim Jackson, an Episcopal priest, was elected to represent Georgia’s 41st District in the US Senate. Sen. Jackson is Georgia’s first openly lesbian representative, and one of a few Black LGBTQ women serving as senators in the US!
- Torrey Harris was elected to represent Tennessee’s 90th District in the House. Rep. Harris is the youngest state lawmaker in Nashville, and, along with Republican Eddie Mannis, is one of the first openly gay representatives for Tennessee! Rep. Harris won 79% of the votes!
- Jabari Brisport, a Caribbean American, Brooklyn resident and teacher, was elected to state senate for Brooklyn’s 25th District. Sen. Brisport is the New York Senate’s first openly queer and Black representative!
- Marilyn Strickland was elected to represent Washington’s 10th Congressional District. Rep. Strickland is the 1st African American representative for Washington, and the 1st Korean American elected to Congress!
- Mauree Turner, a community organizer and regional director for Smart Justice, was elected to represent Oklahoma’s 88th District in the House. Rep. Turner is the first non-binary (they/them) person elected to state legislature in the US, and the first Muslim representative for Oklahoma! Rep. Turner won 71% of the votes!
- Kamala Harris will be the first woman, the first African American, the first Caribbean American, the first Indian (Southeast Asian) American, and the first multi-racial person to serve as Vice President of the United States! Her husband, Doug Emhoff, will be the first Second Gentleman of the US, and the first Jewish spouse of a US president or vice president!
- A record-breaking number of women have been elected to Congress: at least 135 women! (That means that there will be 135 women and 400 men serving and representing US citizens in Congress.)
- It is now projected that 161 million people voted this year! However, 239.2 million Americans were eligible to vote. This is still an incredible increase from the139 million votes counted in 2016. So, while votes were divided and races quite close, there are still about 78.2 million people whose votes weren’t cast. It is impossible to know what that portion of the US population wants, who they would vote for, or what stopped them from voting.
- All the red that is seen in maps in the states doesn’t accurately represent population density. One small blue county may hold a much denser population than many of the red counties around it. Look at New York for an example of this.
- Look at what one person can do to make a difference: read this thread about Ernie Chambers. Ernie Chambers is a civil rights activist and the longest serving state senator in Nebraska history–1971-2009 and 2013 to present. Senator Chambers was the first African American to run for Senate in Nebraska. He was re-elected 11 times. He will retire in January. Read the latest on Senator Chambers pivotal help for Biden-Harris in this election here.
- Stacey Abrams founded Fair Fight (fairfight.com), raised $32 million (with the help of many people, including Tamieka Atkins, Helen Butler, Rebecca DeHart, Deborah Scott, and Use Ufot), and registered 800,000 voters in Georgia! She did this because votes for her were suppressed when she ran for Governor in Georgia, and because she is a champion for social justice.
- Every Medicare For All co-sponsor won re-elction! Of the 93 co-sponsors of The Green New Deal, only two weren’t re-elected! (Source)
- In three key sheriff races in Georgia (Charleston, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties), voters supported holding the police accountable, promoting racial justice, and ending local collaboration with ICE. (Source: ACLU.org email update)
- The people of Nebraska voted to stop predatory payday lending in the state, which disproportionately targets people of color, veterans, and other marginalized communities.
- Proposition 17 was approved in California, granting people on parole the right to vote.
- Proposition 113 was approved in Colorado. Colorado has joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would give the state’s nine electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, if states representing at least 270 Electoral College votes adopt the compact.
There are many challenges we still need to face, many things to be done and undone. None of this is at all easy. Major crises are all around. But, there is good happening. We have to keep at it. Let the people listed above, and their stories, inspire you. Take the time to visit their bios and learn about who they are. Take courage.
During these chaotic and challenging times, please know that mental health issues are on the rise and will only increase. Please ask for help. Please reach out to others who are feeling the brunt of the harm, hate, and erasure going on. For more resources and tips on how to cope, see this article.
If you have more good news that I missed, please comment to add to it. Thank you.