New Voices in Politics = New Priorities

New Voices in Politics = New Priorities

by Janani Sreenivasan • Policy & Politics •

In 2018, voters across the United States marched to the ballot box to usher in the most diverse Congress in history, and bring more points of view and underrepresented faces in politics to city councils, county boards, and state legislatures across the country.

At Do Big Things, we believe that when more perspectives and voices are present at the table, you get better outcomes. Period. It’s a belief that shapes how we run our company, and is also what made us particularly proud to play a role in several of those groundbreaking victories.

Despite Donald Trump’s rants at sitting Congresswomen to “go back where they came from,” the face of power in America is changing—which means that our dialogue, our priorities, and our policies are on their way to finally reflecting the entire electorate’s concerns.

In Harris County, Texas, we helped 28-year-old Colombian immigrant Lina Hidalgo become the first Latina ever elected as County Judge in a county that serves a population larger than 26 U.S. states, including the most diverse city in the country, Houston.

This summer, Hidalgo led the passage of the most comprehensive bail reform in the country, overhauling an unjust system that discriminates against poor, disproportionately Black and Hispanic defendants (a victory that Commissioner Rodney Ellis deemed “as big as Brown v. Board of Education”). Hidalgo, who proudly offers Spanish translation in press conferences and has pledged to defy Trump’s immigration raids and attacks on people of color, is just getting started on her pledge to make Harris County a fairer place for all to live.

We are also proud to work with Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and public health expert representing Illinois’ 14th District. She’s not only the youngest Black woman in Congress, but the only sitting Black female representative of reproductive age. This motivated her to formulate a response to a very specific public health emergency: According to the CDC, the maternal death rate for Black women is over three times greater than that of white women.

Months after taking office, Underwood co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus to provide a systemic response to this long-neglected disparity. The caucus, which she co-chairs, now includes 75 members of Congress and works with community advocacy groups to “establish Black maternal health as a national priority” using “effective, evidence-based culturally-competent policies.”

That’s the kind of results you get when more people have a seat at the table.

And racial and cultural origin is only the tip of the iceberg as far as diversity is concerned—this new Congress is fully intersectional as well. Rep. Sharice Davids is not only one of the first Native women in Congress, she is part of the largest out LGBTQ+ delegation in history. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are not only the first Muslim women in Congress, they are also two reasons that Congress has doubled its number of working mothers. (Their fellow representative, Iowa’s Cindy Axne, fought for—and won full-day kindergarten in West Des Moines, spending a full year negotiating with principals, the school board and the superintendent.)

Culture, origin, gender and other markers of identity don’t dictate a point of view—it’s hardly the case that all women or all immigrants or all LGBTQ+ people share one monolithic opinion. Hidalgo, Underwood and others named here also have full slates of priorities on a range of important issues, from improving weather resilience in their communities to protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.

But identity does shape a point of view. For too long, too many points of view have been excluded from the table, and every one does need to be heard and considered for this democracy to work. At Do Big Things, we’re proud to work with candidates leading new initiatives at the nexus of access and justice and expanding the priorities of our government—if you’re interested in partnering with our diverse and visionary team to do just that, be in touch.

Janani is Director of Creative Strategy at Do Big Things. Co-written with Tracy Yu, Content Strategist at Do Big Things.

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