This has been a scary election year for liberals. The rise of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee has exposed the darkest fragments of American society. The racists, sexists, xenophobes and homophobes have all come out from the holes where they used to hide to loudly embrace the candidate that finally expresses what they’re thinking.
To many, the success of the Brexit movement meant that white nationalism would also win in our own elections next November. But the primary wins of two transgender women and a Dominican-American who was once an undocumented immigrant serve as proof that, sometimes, inclusivity wins.
For the first time in American history, a major party has selected a transgender woman to run for a Senate seat.
Utah Democrats chose Misty K. Snow to run against Republican Sen. Mike Lee. The 30-year-old grocery store clerk from Salt Lake City beat her opponent, Jonathan Swinton, by almost 20 points. Swinton, a marriage therapist, ran to the right of Snow, who attacked him for advocating limits to abortion rights. Snow ran a campaign similar to that of Bernie Sanders, advocating for “$15 per hour minimum wage, paid family leave, legalized marijuana, criminal-justice reform and free or reduced tuition for higher education” according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
“We hoped more Democrats were really looking at the long game at this, trying to unseat Mike Lee,” Swinton said, referring to Snow’s slim chances of winning a general election in conservative Utah. “The reality is I’ve done my absolute best and run an honorable campaign.”
Snow released a statement after her win, calling Tuesday “a historic day for the LGBT community.” If elected in November, she would also be the youngest senator in the chamber.
And Snow wasn’t alone: Colorado Democrats chose Misty Plowright, one of the first transgender people to run for congress, to challenge Rep. Doug Lamborn. Plowright, A 33-years old Army veteran who works in IT, beat her closest opponent by more than 3,000 votes.
Harlem Democrats chose state senator Adriano Espaillat to take over longtime Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat in the House of Representatives.
Espaillat’s candidacy is remarkable for several reasons: Not only would he be the first Dominican-American to serve in Congress, but his win also represents a fundamental change in the historically black neighborhood of Harlem, which has turned increasingly Hispanic. “I never thought about that ever happening in all of my years, 72 years,” Rangel said of the results.
The 61-year-old state senator ran against assemblyman Keith Wright, a black man who was endorsed by Rangel. Wright has refused to concede until “every vote is counted,” citing a “real possibility of a lot of campaign irregularities and voter suppression.” Based on the latest results, Espalliat beat him by around 1,300 votes.
“The voters … elected a country boy from Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic,” Espaillat told Reuters. Espalliat will probably win the November election – Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters in Harlem by quite a margin.
Snow and Plowright face a tougher battle in November – they are running in conservative states where the Democrat vote does not represent anywhere near a majority of the population. Plowright on her part is running in the Colorado’s 5th district, one of the most conservative in the state. Snow’s state of Utah is one of the most conservatives in the nation. Her challenger, Sen. Mike Lee is a powerful tea-party favorite who won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2010.
There may be hope for Snow yet, however small. Predominantly-Mormon Utah voters, despite the state’s history as a stalwart of the right, hate Donald Trump with a passion for his persecution of another minority religion, Islam. So far, that hasn’t benefitted Democrats in the state as much as it has hurt Republicans. But if Donald Trump can turn Utah purple, anything is possible.