(LOS ANGELES, CA, 11/9/18) — With the election behind us, America's Muslim community must now assess what the results mean for their legislative aims.
The midterm elections culminated in the Democrats retaking the House of Representatives and the Republicans retaining, and gaining seats, in the Senate, as well as a flurry of activity in gubernatorial races and state legislatures. In the wake of the election, many Muslim-Americans are taking stock of how the midterm results will impact their community.
First and foremost, most agree that important progress was made Tuesday evening. The 116th United States Congress will be the most diverse in American history, with over 100 women elected representatives for the first time ever — two of whom, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are Muslim.
Controlling the House was a great coup for Democrats, as was flipping several state legislatures and winning some key governorships in swing states. These developments will play a key role in how we serve our community. Democratic-controlled state legislatures, six of which are new, may make good partners in trying to facilitate engagement between law enforcement and local communities.
Democratic state attorney generals will also be fighting on the front lines against issues relating to the Muslim Ban, immigration and refugees. Since governors have veto power over redistricting efforts in many states, those races will have lasting implications for future elections.
Still, elections are the beginning of a political process, not the end. Now, more than ever, Muslim Americans should feel emboldened to call on their representatives. Issues such as voter suppression efforts, which played a key role before and during the election, will be incredibly important focuses moving forward.
The impact that civil rights expansions may have on the electorate in states like Florida, where the passage of Amendment 4 restored voting rights to 1.4 million people with a past felony conviction is the single most significant expansion of voting rights since the Voting Rights Act. These are the sorts of issues for which Muslims may find willing partners in the new Congress.
While Tuesday offered a substantive victory for opposition to Trump’s legislative agenda, it was no panacea. There is still much work to be done to ensure that any gains made on election night become lasting victories.