Thursday’s House speaker vote and opening of the 116th Congress set up a striking visual moment in the lower chamber: On Democrats’ side of the aisle, a historically diverse class of women and people of color were clad in bright outfits as they were sworn in, while on the Republican side, a relatively homogeneous group of mostly white men wore nearly identical dark suits.
The sharp contrast in the House served to underline the stark differences between how the respective parties have approached promoting women and candidates of color. While Democrats have made it their mission to diversify the kinds of candidates and leaders they elect, Republicans have historically shied away from doing so for fear of being associated with identity politics.
This distinction was especially apparent during the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats saw a groundbreaking number of women help the party retake control of the House, while Republicans actually saw declines in their number of women representatives. (The number of GOP women did grow in the Senate, however.)
If the House’s first vote was any indication, Thursday marks the beginning of a new Congress unlike any that’s ever come before. It kicks off a term that’s expected to look very, very different ... in a good way.