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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

IoWhat is Going On in Politics? Maternal/electoral politics

My mother is an incredible woman. A native of Texas, my mother has instilled in me my greatest personality traits: strong will and passion. Besides being my mother, though, she was also my teacher, both inside and outside the classroom. According to her, I was devastatingly average until I was a student in her second grade class. She is the person who provided me with a deep-seated interest in learning and justice. She was never afraid of challenging what I thought, pushing me harder to love more and work harder. She was the one who first launched me into politics, by signing me up to knock on doors for former President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. She pushed me to jump on a campaign to update the Human Rights Ordinance in Miami-Dade County to include gender identity and gender expression when I had some extra time in the second semester of my senior year of high school. 

When I saw my world turned upside down on Nov. 8, 2016, a part of me resented that my mother had led me down the path to politics. My throat still stings a little whenever I think about sitting in Lyle’s on that fateful night. But my mom was also one of the people I relied on most after the devastating results of that election. Since I was young, she had taught me that there is always work to do. Regardless of what happens on Election Day, there are a million things to get done — and somebody has to do it. That is, I think, what makes me who I truly am. 

Like many other Democrats, I fell asleep extremely happy last Tuesday, Nov. 7. We handily won very important races in Virginia and New Jersey and broke barriers at the state and municipal level across the country, electing many first-time and female candidates to office. I see so much of my mother in the women candidates that won handily last Tuesday. I see her sense of justice in State Senator-Elect Manka Dhingra, who served as a prosecutor for more than 17 years before being elected to the Washington State Senate this past Tuesday. I see her sense of pragmatism in Danica Roem, elected as the first openly transgender person to the state legislature in Virginia. Roem is also passionate about infrastructure, focusing on fixing Route 28 so that constituents can have better and safer commutes. I see my mother’s strength in New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor-Elect Sheila Oliver, who was never afraid to take on the boys’ club of New Jersey politics, including helping to uncover the Bridgegate emails during Chris Christie’s term as governor.

But there are also other races to watch and take notice of in the coming months, including the race for mayor of Cedar Rapids. Monica Vernon, who you might remember from her run for Congress in 2016, advanced to the run-off against attorney Brad Hart. I can’t help but see the overwhelming compassion my mother practices everyday in the actions and qualifications of Vernon. She did incredibly important work helping rebuild the city of Cedar Rapids after the devastating floods of 2008. She’s long been an advocate for women, helping to establish the first shelter for women and children in Cedar Rapids many years ago. 

My mom instilled many values in me, and I try and seek out the same things in the candidates I look up to. These are just a few of the amazing women that I have been paying attention to. I hope you can find some inspiration in these women, and also find candidates that reflect your own values. 

— Austin Wadle ’18


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