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Can Newcomers Bridge Blue-Red Divide In House?

Michael Juliani |
November 13, 2012 | 5:44 p.m. PST

Assistant News Editor

Minority speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't the most popular woman in the world.  (Flickr Creative Commons)
Minority speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't the most popular woman in the world. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Democrats use the excuse of the Republican Congress to defend President Barack Obama's first term, saying that it served as a roadblock to the president's progressive concerns.  They hoped to make a dent in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives after the 2012 election.

Though the Republicans still hold a majority, it doesn't seem to matter. Most people hate Congress no matter what party is in charge. Despite this, a few newcomers to the House have some interesting ideas and personal histories.

Illinois' eighth district saw an intense race between Tea Party incumbent Joe Walsh and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth.  Duckworth, a double amputee, defeated Walsh after the Republican showed his truer colors during the campaign, supporting Todd Akin after his rape comments and saying that Duckworth isn't a "true hero." 

Duckworth became the first Asian American from Illinois elected to Congress. According to the Huffington Post, Duckworth said that her victory proved that Americans don't want extremist politicians in power. "It's beneficial that folks like Mr. Walsh who are so extreme and were not willing to compromise are no longer going to be a part of the process," she said. "I'm hoping that means more moderate voices on both sides can step forward and broker an agreement."

(SEE ALSO: Texas Petitions To Secede From The Union)

This message also came from new California Congressman Raul Ruiz, a Democratic emergency room doctor who defeated Bono Mack, who held the seat for 14 years, since she won to take over the spot that her husband Sonny Bono held before his death. 

Mack fought hard to retain her seat, trying to label Ruiz as a radical for being part of a Native American protest of Thanksgiving during his time at Harvard Medical School in the late nineties.  

"I believe that this election sends a message that it's time to put an end to partisan gridlock, Ruiz said, according to the L.A. Times

With the defeat of far-right incumbents a trend through several district and Senate races, Congress would seem to be headed more towards the middle.  But as Reuters pointed out, "[w]hile more than 18 incumbent House members from both parties were defeated…there was no obvious ideological or partisan pattern.  Redrawn districts, as a result of the 2010 census, were responsible for some incumbent losses."  The Coachella Valley district where Ruiz beat Mack is one of those newly drawn regions.

If you look elsewhere you'll see new "crazy conservatives" winning seats. In Florida's District 6, 33-year-old Republican Ron DeSantis beat 43-year-old Democrat Heather Beaven, a mother of two whose husband is stationed in Afghanistan.  Both candidates served in the Navy, and DeSantis is an Ivy League-taught lawyer with hardline conservative views. 

(SEE ALSO: Obama's Celebration Tempered By Divided Congress)

In debates, DeSantis spoke about overturning Obamacare and supporting Paul Ryan's budget proposal, and rebuked Beaven's idea that the military should become a special force police-like system.  "I wish we didn't have any major threats," he said, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "but as soon as you lull yourself into that way of thinking, you open yourself up."
But like the Senate, the House saw some progressive firsts. Mark Takano, in California's 41st district, became the first non-white gay congressman elected and 33-year-old Tulsi Gabbard--already a media star--became the first Hindu congresswoman.  Gabbard will take the oath of office over the Bhagavad Gita.

With the re-election of Obama, the country confirmed its belief in the healing power of Democratic values, but with 20 states asking for secession and Congress still locked firmly in place, it seems that bipartisanship is a cancer of the process, and the Democrats have been just as guilty of it as "the others."


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the House here.

Reach Assistant News Editor Michael Juliani here.



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