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January 4, 2013

The New Congress, Women and a Cultural Change That Profound

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If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I work hard to avoid the typical shot. Yesterday, however, the group portrait of incoming Democratic women House members, contributing to a record number of women in Congress, is too important to pass up.

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Along with the numbers, it’s also important to highlight how much politics, and the Hill, hinge on personality. That’s why I like this shot even better. What I love are those bookend hands-on-hips between the new member in pink and Tammy Duckworth. Enough of the boys club. Specifically though, I think Duckworth, the outspoken vet standing strong on familiar prosthetic legs, represents a strong new face and voice. …I’m imagining one way the shift will be characterized going forward (if just strictly from a women/House personality profile) is: more Duckworth, less Bachmann.

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My friend Charles Dharapak captured the other dimension of cultural shift in these Instagram shots. Much is being made of the first Buddhist and first Hindu members of Congress, women both, the Hill acquiring a diversity that the conservative white males and the media are certainly going to struggle with. (Expect a post on that coming shortly.) And along those lines, it’s no surprise that the first lesbian and bisexual Senator and Representative (again, both women) have earnaed mention consistent with the religious firsts. Because this wider representation ushered in by the 2012 election has effected that powerful a shift not just on the Hill, but in our political religion.

(photo 1 & 2: Mark Wilson/Getty Images caption: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (C), stands with the Democratic women of the House to highlight the historic diversity of the House Democratic Caucus, on January 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. The new 113th Congress will be sworn in today. caption 2: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (6th L), stands with the Democratic women of the House Democratic Caucus during a photo op on January 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. The new 113th Congress will be sworn in today. photo 3 & 4: Charles Dharapak/Instagram – #APontheHill. caption 3: Bibles from various faiths arrive (on loan) from the Library of Congress to be used in mock swearing in photos with Speaker Boehner for the 113th Congress on Capitol Hill #aponthehill caption 4: “Please confirm use of sacred text for photo.” Notice seen in Rayburn Room for mock swearing in photo with Speaker Boehner for members of 113th Congress, The Capitol #aponthehill.)

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