If America’s political future belongs to women, let Latinas lead the charge  

If America’s political future belongs to women, let Latinas lead the charge  
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For many of us, 2017 turned out differently than imagined. A summer before, we had imagined the first woman U.S. president taking the oath of office and expanding President Obama’s policies of inclusion and tolerance.

Reality is a cruel mistress. Instead, a president who seems to prosper within an environment of acrimony now sits behind the Resolute desk. Repeatedly, President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE and his administration have attacked minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community, Latinos, women, African Americans, Native Americans, and Muslim-Americans.  Like others, we have vowed that such attacks will not happen without resistance.

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Across the country, women are leading a crusade against divisiveness and fearmongering. We first saw this feminist resurgence here in Washington when 500,000 protesters participated in the Women’s March, shortly after Trump’s inauguration. And, although Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone fundraising off promise not to testify against Trump Rivaling chants of 'USA,' 'lock him up' greet Flynn after sentencing hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown MORE lost the Oval Office, women continue to increase their political representation. In 2016, voters elected 105 women to Congress, 75 to statewide executive offices, and 1,806 to state legislatures. In 2017, 25,000 women have expressed interest in running for office,  and the highest number of women in history (417) have already registered to run for Congress. The tide is turning!

 

As women lead the charge for political change, it is important to remember the special contributions made by Latinas. In Congress, four Latinas stand out for their activism. Although they show particular concern for the Latino community, their fight for social justice benefits everyone.

The first Latina and only woman from Nevada ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Democrat Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoYemen resolution picks up crucial support in Senate Senate panel advances Trump’s energy nominee despite Dem objections The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE grew up in a working-class family. Her memories of her grandfather as a janitor ignited a passion for workers’ rights. In the Senate, she has pledged to defend labor protections and is a strong advocate for women and children. As Nevada attorney general, she worked to combat human trafficking, and as a senator this remains one of her priorities.

Rep. Linda SanchezLinda Teresa SánchezHouse Dems worry about lack of women of color in leadership Rep. Linda Sanchez’s husband indicted on corruption charges Sanchez withdraws from race for Dem Caucus chair MORE (D-Calif.), the current Vice-Chair of the Democratic Caucus, is the only woman of color to be in a leadership position in the history of the U.S. Congress. As such, she is an important voice at the table representing underserved communities. Alone, that is enough to inspire. However, in Congress, she repeatedly has supported progressive policies involving environment protection, immigration reform, civil rights and health care expansion. She, too, cares about workers’ rights as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The current chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamEight newly elected Dem governors miss meeting with Trump Washington governor plans major climate initiatives New governors plan aggressive climate steps MORE (D-N.M.) has led the caucus throughout its 2017 tax, immigration and health care debates. At home, she is the primary caregiver for her aging mother. Her personal experience as a caregiver has made her one of the strongest Congressional advocates for increased health care access. Like millions of women, her dual role as a working professional and family caregiver gives her a unique perspective often not displayed by her male peers.

Latina activism is not constricted by party lines. Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenJuan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women GOP lawmaker tells party to stop focusing on 'white, male conservative' voters ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women MORE (R-Fla.), the first Latina elected to Congress, has been a strong conservative critic of the Trump White House. As the proud mother of a transgender son, she is a stanch ally to the LGBTQ community.

Beyond Capitol Hill, Latina activists are taking their activism to the streets and onto television screens across the country. Carmen Perez, co-chair for the Women’s March on Washington, continues to hold seminars and lectures on the importance of having woman involved in all stages of decision-making. Sadly, although increasing, women occupy only 19.8 percent of Congress, and 39.2 percent of management positions.

The figure for minority women is even lower. As a historically mitigated minority, women know the harsh feeling of discrimination. This American injustice has taught women to be strong advocates for all communities. Latinas in particular have demonstrated their activism. In decision-making positions, like the spectacular women above, Latinas tirelessly serve the broader community.

In 2018, there is work still to be done to carry out the commitment to all underserved and overlooked Americans. This includes the fight to continue protections for young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act of 2012. The Trump administration’s attempt to roll back these protections has caused nearly 800,000 recipients, who came to the United States as children, to now fear deportation, though a federal judge has temporarily blocked the attempted phase-out of DACA.  

With a midterm election, 2018 could bring new members of Congress and position more women — Latinas included — in other key down-ballot positions. Latinas are resolute about continuing their impact on national politics by being strong advocates of progressive platforms. PODER PAC, a political action committee that supports Latina congressional candidates, has endorsed five Latinas for Congress: Veronica Escobar of Texas, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of New Mexico, Virginia Madueño of California, Juana Matias of Massachusetts, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida. They represent what is already great about America — diversity, inclusion and progressive viewpoints.

American women, including their Latina sisters, remain hopeful about leading the country into a progressive future. But the necessary changes will happen only if we actively participate in the political process. The future indeed may belong to females, but it requires all of us to effect change and create a world that we want our children, and their children, to inhabit.

Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino are co-founders of D&P Creative Strategies, LLC. Duran previously served as president and CEO for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and is the current chairwoman of PODER PAC. Pino previously served on the board of directors for the National Council of La Raza, a current board member of the Arcus Foundation, and is the current treasurer of PODER PAC.