Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 9 News List

‘We proved them wrong’: The women shaking up the US left

A refugee, a Native American, a transgender woman — these primary winners are changing the face of the progressive left and the Trump opposition

By Jamiles Lartey and Lauren Gambino  /  The Guardian, NEW ORLEANS and WASHINGTON

It has been a summer of political firsts in the US as a historically diverse field of candidates run for office, largely invigorated by dissatisfaction with US President Donald Trump.

Across the country, Democratic women are running for office — and winning primaries — in record numbers.

Meanwhile, barrier-breaking candidates have become a feature of the primary election season for not just women, but LGBT, religious minority and candidates of color as well.

Here are some of the people looking to make political representation more representative in November:


Minnesota state Representative Ilhan Omar, a former Somali refugee, was on Aug. 14 nominated by Democrats in Minnesota to battle for the state’s Democratic-leaning 5th district.

She has spent the past four years as a state legislator championing progressive causes, such as a US$15 minimum wage and subsidizing higher education costs for low-income students.

Her congressional platform has been similarly bold: arguing for the cancelation of student debt, banning private prisons and aggressive funding cuts to military spending for what she calls “perpetual war and military aggression.”

Part of a wave of Democrats unabashedly appealing to the party’s left flank, Omar has not been shy in her critique of Democratic politics-as-usual either.

“We’ve become the party that wants to appease everyone and no one, and I think the only way that the Democrats become viable again is if we have people who have moral clarity and courage to say what they need to say and fight for what they need to fight for,” she told supporters at a campaign event before her primary win.

Omar is extremely likely to win her race in November and replace US Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress, who is retiring to run for attorney general in the state.

She would be the first Somali-American member of Congress and the first Muslim woman member, although she will almost certainly have company on that milestone.


Rashida Tlaib is running unopposed in her race to represent Michigan’s 17th district, and is all but assured to become the nation’s first Palestinian-American female representative to Congress and to be among the first Muslim women — if not the first — to serve in the chamber.

A Democratic-Socialist, Tlaib served in the state legislature from 2009 to 2014. She ran her congressional primary race on a campaign supporting Medicare for all, a US$15 minimum wage and abolishing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Tlaib’s “resistance” bona fides are unimpeachable, having been escorted from a Trump rally in 2016 as she shouted questions at the then-presidential candidate on whether he had ever read the US constitution.

Tlaib describes the moment as the “most American thing that I could ever have done.”

Tlaib told the Democracy Now Web site that her first act as a representative would be to introduce a modernized version of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to mend what she sees as a slow national abandonment of its precepts at the hands of conservative judges, who only recognize a violation where there is clear “discriminatory intent.”

“I want to change it back to saying that if you show that the impact [is] discriminatory when it’s implemented, when it’s on the ground, then it should be considered a violation of our civil rights,” she said.

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