With the culture of political distrust and government backlash the United States has been experiencing in recent times, it seems as if all politicians can be branded as corrupt. Although none of these politicians are by any means perfect, these political figures possess a certain level of badass that may make you have slightly more faith in American politics again.
Popularly dubbed as the “woman of firsts,” Congresswoman Sinema is the first openly bisexual member of the House of Representatives and the first member of Congress to have no religious affiliation. Apart from this, Sinema has also overcome another set of struggles to achieve the position she has today; the now congresswoman spent a portion of her childhood living in an abandoned gas station with no electricity or running water after her stepfather had lost his job. Sinema has not only opened many doors in government through her sexuality and religious preference, but also continuously inspires many through her unconventional and difficult journey to success.
While the pictures that surfaced from the Chicago Tribune documenting Sanders’s 1963 arrest went viral on social media, his college career shows just how badass the Vermont senator is and displays his deep-rooted, lifelong passion for racial equality. Sanders, 21, was a student at the University of Chicago and president of the college’s Congress of Racial Equality when he became one of the “Willis Wagons” that flooded the streets of Chicago in the 1960s, protesting a plan created by Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis that aimed to segregate black students into secluded classrooms from white students.
Murphy gained significant acclaim after defeating the career politician for over 20 years, John Mica, in the 2016 election for a position in the House of Representatives. Murphy’s rise to power also differs from that of most politicians, as her parents fled from Vietnam to Malaysia as refugees in order to evade the dominant communist regimes of the time. From there, they worked as laborers until they earned enough money to migrate to the United States, working blue-collar jobs in order to send Murphy and her brother to college. Murphy epitomizes the struggle of immigrants and first-generation Americans within the United States, serving as a beacon of hope for people of color in America and across the world.
Chisholm is perhaps one of the most underappreciated female historical figures as despite her continuously breaking glass ceilings throughout her career; she remains relatively unknown. As the first black woman to run for president under a major political party, Chisholm helped legitimize the presence of both African-Americans and women in American politics. Despite her loss in the election, she still serves as an inspiration to minorities as she was the first black congresswoman, the first African-American to run for president (yes, there were candidates before Barack Obama) and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Next time you’re questioning the legitimacy of American democracy, remember that despite the government presently in place, there are still political figures from our past and in our present that epitomize the American spirit of breaking boundaries and shattering glass ceilings.