EP 366 A Class Like No Other: The Women Entering Congress in 2019

They came with their sleeves rolled up, ready to make some noise in numbers unimagined in the past. We’re talking about the new women members of Congress making up a group that author, Jennifer Steinhauer, calls ‘The Firsts’. This history-making class includes the youngest woman ever to serve; the first two Muslim women; the first two Native American women, one openly gay; a black woman from an all white Chicago suburb; and a Hispanic woman from a heavily Republican border region. Ethnic and racial diversity wasn’t the only trademark. Some progressives, like the ‘star’ of the class, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, beat a long time incumbent who was white, male and a member of her own party. Others defeated longstanding Republican male incumbents. And while AOC and ‘the squad’ made many of the headlines in a squabble with President Trump, the more moderate national security new arrivals were key to the President’s impeachment in the House. Given that they represent purple districts, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reluctant to go forward with it until this group of potentially vulnerable freshman signed on. And while past wave elections in 1974 after Watergate and 1992 in the wake of the Clarence Thomas hearings, had certain special qualities, this one will be certain to be a big part of the Trump legacy. They ran, and won, in response to his election in 2016. We discuss their impact on the male dominated Congress(women are still only 25 percent of The House)and their political fortunes going forward.