Midterms Bring Diversity to Congress

Finally, Congress Starts to Resemble America

The 116th Congress will show off American diversity more than ever before. It's been a long time coming.

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On November 7, America elected its most diverse Congress ever.

The midterm elections for the Senate and House of Representatives brought in a record number of politicians from all sorts of cultural and religious backgrounds. Their victories mark a new milestone in the demographic makeup of Congress, which has historically been dominated by white men.

Congress's past members and their characteristics prove just how far the country has come. In the 79th Congress, which took office in 1945, only 1% of members were nonwhite. That same year, not a single woman served in the entire Congress, comprising approximately 535 lawmakers.

Sixteen years later, only three African Americans and twenty women held seats in the House or Senate, and though this rose to seventeen African American members by 1981, only one woman was added in that time. Native Americans, followed by Asian Americans and Hispanics, are the least represented minorities in Congress. Growth in the number of members from these backgrounds has been the slowest by far.

In 1982, with passage of the Voting Rights Act, representation of minorities skyrocketed, thanks to the redrawing of district lines throughout the United States. A similar thing occurred in 1992; after what had largely been seen as the insensitive handling of Anita Hill's testimony during the Clarence Thomas Senate hearings prompted a record number of women to run for office.

Though the most recent midterm outcomes are more the product of slow change than one groundbreaking event (though, you could argue that the somewhat successful "blue wave" played a role -- women and minorities make up a majority of the Democratic party at present, compared to the 88% white male Republican House membership) they proved to be significant. On Wednesday, a record number of women -- one hundred! -- became part of the 116th Congress, including the first Native American and Muslim women to ever serve.

Massachusetts and Connecticut elected their first African American Congresswomen, Democrats Ayanna Pressley and Jahana Hayes. Texas elected its first Latina Congresswomen, Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, both Democrats. And Iowa elected women to the House for the first time in its history -- Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne. Not to mention, Arizona and Tennessee both elected their first female senators.

The election of a more diverse Congress means that the United States government will begin to better resemble America's diverse population. In 2017, about 20.7% of Congress was female, compared to the 50.8% female population of the whole United States. Though Hispanics made up 18.1% of the population that same year, their representation in Congress -- 8.5% -- was little more than half that. Finally, those of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry made up a little over three percent of the Congress last year, half of their total presence in the United States population, standing at six percent. The results of this last election stand to shift these percentages and make them more equal on each side, painting a more accurate picture of America's diversity.

Not only did the midterms have implications for Congress's demographics, but also for the kinds of legislation it passes. In the past, the addition of more women and minorities in Congress has led to more legislation attentive to the interests and issues of these groups. In other words: progress leads to more progress.

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On June 22nd I Celebrated My 22nd

*Insert cliche Taylor Swift song "22"*

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It's about time I turn 22. I've been told that after your 21st birthday, the years begin to fly past you in a blur. I don't know if I agree, but I can definitely say that I don't feel 22. Sometimes I look around at all the people who are freshmen in college, or juniors in high school, and I begin to reminisce about when I was their age. One thing getting older does do is make you a skeptical, cynical person.

I've thought a lot about my birthday as another day that I get to eat cake because let's face it, I'm not really here for anything else, except maybe a shot. I remember celebrating my birthday when I was younger was much different from what it turned into after I turned 20. Back in the day, I would celebrate my birthday with a pool party. Pizza, chips, cake, and soda. A few balloons and candles and that was it. I'd only invite my closest friends and we'd have so much fun.

I miss that kind of birthday. The kind you pick out an outfit for days prior, the kind you get so excited for and can't sleep, the kind that makes you feel special. It doesn't feel like that anymore. What it feels like now is, "welp, there goes another year." This line is also applicable to New Year's Eve, but we'll cross that bridge six months from now.

My birthday is pretty uneventful. It feels like the spark is gone, the excitement is gone. I wish I could feel happy that I'm turning 22, but I also know that it's just a reality that we all get older and things like birthdays begin to feel strange. You're faced to realize that you're supposed to have gained another year of experience and intelligence in the aspects of life, but it's almost like you feel the same.

It's safe to say that this has been a bit of an existential-crisis-themed birthday, but I'm just a little scared of getting older. I think we all reach a point where you realize you aren't invincible anymore. It's time to see what's in store for the future, what your career goals are, where you plan to move to after graduation, how to eat better, and how to feel like you've reached your full potential. It's a bittersweet moment in my life, but I'm ready to see what's next.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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