January 3, 2019

You Missed the Best Bit of Television Today.


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A post shared by Elephant Journal (@elephantjournal) on Dec 31, 2018 at 11:26pm PST

If you missed it, today, the best bit of television happened on C-SPAN.

This afternoon, the 116th Congress opened and the United States House of Representatives voted on the next Speaker of the House.

Unsurprisingly, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will again take the helm in Congress.

Watching the camera pan around the packed chamber may seem like the most boring bit of slow TV you could find—even Netflix wouldn’t pick it up. I mean, come on, it’s C-SPAN.

But that camera revealed more than just a lugubrious roll call vote.

There were the faces of the rising stars on the left, names you’ve probably heard plenty about. Maybe even follow on Instagram. Ocasio-Cortez. Tlaib. Davids. Omar. Haaland. Pressley. Escobar.


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We’re in the building. Swearing in tomorrow. . ?: @martinschoeller for @vanityfair

A post shared by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@ocasio2018) on  

Although I’m just as much a fan girl (my heart might have noticeably climbed into my throat when watching the vote of Ocasio-Cortez) of these incredible women as the next politically minded progressive, they weren’t the ones who caught my eye.

There were noticeable differences between the seating sections dominated by Republicans and Democrats. There were a lot more red ties and white older male faces on the Republican side. More women, more faces of color, more youth, and more enthusiasm dominated the Democrats.

But who was scattered throughout the chamber? Children. Sleeping babes in the crooks of suited arms. Toddlers enveloped in respectable laps. Impatient pre-schoolers dressed in uncomfortable ties and constricting tights. Young adults with braces and heavy dark framed glasses. Bored teenagers with headphones and iPhones.

Humanity. Families.

We often forget that these stewards of our political future are human. Not just memes and blustery talking points. They have families—politicians don’t serve alone.

My favorite moment of today was watching newly elected Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico—who, along with Rep. Sharice Davids, are the first indigenous women elected to Congress—share a sticker covered water bottle with her (I’m guessing) grandchildren.

It’s hard not to come back down to earth watching something so fundamental. Especially since I was watching while also juggling my squirrelly five-month-old daughter.

It’s easy to forget the humanity of the “other side” when we’re debating and caught up in our own political biases. This isn’t to excuse the inexcusable political machinations that suppress human rights around the country. But maybe these children, these families, can serve as a reminder that we do have common ground.

We come from somewhere and we love. We love.

That’s something I can get excited about. Let’s use it to guide our politics in 2019.

Fun extra tidbit: I spotted the impeccable Tim Gunn and singer Tony Bennet got a shoutout.

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Image: C-SPAN Screenshot 1/3/19

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Image: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Instagram

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