By Professor Dennis R. Shaughnessy
It was a difficult and challenging election week for many of us on campus, with many students emotionally expressing their concerns about the message sent by the election’s outcome. As we now know, Secretary Clinton won the popular vote, while Mr. Trump won the electoral vote. The margin in each case was razor thin and one can argue that the election results just confirm the divide that exists in our country.
I’ve been asked by many students to comment on the outcome of the election. Our classes in social enterprise and social responsibility of business emphasize the importance of fundamental values like inclusion and engagement, shared success and equality, and treating others with respect and dignity. It took a little extra effort on the day after this profoundly divisive presidential election, but I was able to find reasons to celebrate the Presidential Election 2016.
At least seven reasons.
1. Minnesota elects a Somali refugee and Muslim woman to Congress
Ilhan Omar was elected to the US Congress from Minnesota. She was born in Somalia and lived for four years in a Kenyan refugee camp. She immigrated to the US as a teenager and has been active in the large Somali community in Minnesota ever since. As a Muslim woman and mother, she will bring to Congress a perspective on the world that has been lacking for some time.
2. Nevada elects the first Latina to the Senate
Catherine Cortez Masto is the newly elected Senator from Nevada, to replace former Senate Leader Harry Reid. She is also the first Latina to serve in the US Senate. She has worked to address the problem of child trafficking in her home state, and has long fought for the rights of Latino immigrants.
3. Seattle elects the first Indian-American woman to Congress
Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian American women to be elected to Congress. She migrated to the US when she was 16 and will now represent Seattle’s 7th District in Congress. She founded OneAmerica, a progressive advocacy group, and has been a leader in the movement for greater inclusion.
4. A Northeastern graduate is elected to the US Senate
Maggie Hassan, a Northeastern Law School graduate, is moving from the Governor’s Office in New Hampshire to the US Senate! Governor Hassan has been a powerful advocate for the rights of the disabled and will bring the experience of parenting a severely disabled child to Washington.
5. A combat veteran moves from the House to the Senate
Representative Tammy Duckworth will now become Senator Duckworth of Minnesota. She is a double-amputee combat veteran who has fought tirelessly for the interests of veterans, including homeless veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
6. Oregon re-elects its openly LGBTQ Governor
Kate Brown was re-elected governor of Oregon and she will be the first openly LGBTQ governor. She is a staunch advocate of LGBT youth as well as for poor women and children. She was re-elected after serving for a year following the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber.
7. California elects its first black Senator
Kamala Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, is the first black politician to represent California in the Senate, and only the second black woman elected to the Senate. She is a strong advocate for civil rights and criminal justice reform. Many see her as the “next Barack Obama,” but for now she will represent our largest and most diverse state with a unique background and perspective.
So, I can see at least seven reasons to applaud the results of the 2016 election, and will continue to encourage students to find the hope and optimism that helps us build a better world.
My thanks to Mattie Kahn of Elle Magazine.