After an election cycle that witnessed a shift in favor of gender equality in Congress and governorships, Sharice Davids, the Democratic Representative for the 3rd district of Kansas, might be just the woman to carry the flag for progress, equality, and change.
Davids connected to Bruce Lee and the rigor of martial arts as a child, but her mother, who was raising three children alone, could not afford for her to train. Eventually, Davids found a way to learn karate and capoeira. Despite a late start with mixed martial arts (MMA) at age 19, Davids was so motivated that she won her first professional fight in less than two minutes.
Davids decided not to make a career out of MMA, and finished her law degree at Cornell University instead. She continued fighting at the concurrently with her legal and political career and even tried out for The Ultimate Fighter.
From the Octagon to the Oval
In 2016, she was selected as one of only 16 people for a White House Fellowship program, serving during the transition from President Obama to the current administration. Witnessing that change, solidified Davids’ resolve to fight for progressive causes and encouraged her to run for office sooner than she might have otherwise.
Not one to pull any punches, Davids ran an ad in which she is seen training to fight, looking strong as hell. Her voice over lays out her platform and delivers a right hook to the opposition when she says on NBC: “It’s clear Trump and the Republicans in Washington don’t give a damn about anyone like me or anyone who doesn’t think like them.”
Unwilling to wait for anyone to “give a damn about her,” Davids ran for Congress in 2018, one of the record-breaking 309 women candidates in 2018. She was backed by Emily’s List, which is dedicated to supporting Democratic women candidates.
There would be much sparring ahead. In the Kansas primaries, she had to defeat 5 other candidates. Democrat Brent Welder, her toughest opponent, received endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the current godparents of the progressive movement. But Davids was victorious in the primaries and moved on the general election, even stronger for having taken the bid.
Davids’ opponent in the election, the incumbent Kevin Yoder, had been serving since 2011. His campaign budget far exceeded Davids’.
Always happy to deliver a swift uppercut, Davids called Yoder “an extremist” devoted to cutting taxes for the wealthy and reducing health coverage for people. She ended by labelling him a “pawn for Donald Trump,” reports the New York Times. Despite the current President’s endorsement of Yoder, Davids trounced him, winning by double-digit margin of votes.
Davids achieved this historic victory by being true to herself, coming up with a positive plan of action, and using a campaign platform much like that of a typical Democratic candidate: gun control, better access to healthcare, and fewer tax breaks for the rich and corporate.
But there is nothing typical about Sharice Davids, who is as effective in the octagon as she might be one day in the Pentagon. Davids is running in to fight on behalf of working families and people who have been historically overlooked.
“Representation is crucial to the political process.”
The Possibility of Real Change Emerges from the Experience of Real Roots
A Native American member of Wisconsin’s Ho Chunk nation, Davids has lived and worked on reservations. These experiences, no doubt, make her an effective champion for our marginalized Native American population.
Davids was one of the record 128 Native Americans seeking political office in this last election. Together with Debra Haaland, another Democrat from New Mexico, they are the first 2 Native Americans to serve in Congress.
As if jumping into the ring on behalf of women, people of color, the working class, and Native Americans weren’t enough, Davids is helping to drive the rainbow wave of LGBTQ people running for office — and winning! — today.
Representation is crucial to the political process. Sharice Davids is the first openly gay person to represent Kansas and only the second openly gay woman to serve in Congress. As she has remarked, the very presence of a person from a marginalized group in the conversation will undoubtedly “shift the conversation.” It’s time for that shift.
Sharice True is a Beacon of Hope
Sharice Davids is the very first Native American, working-class, lesbian to win political office in our country — a monumental victory by any measure, but one she won’t dwell on for too long. Despite being proud of her victory, she rightfully notes that “The fact that we are in 2018 and we are still seeing all these firsts is mind-boggling to me. When I stop and think about it, it makes me very proud to be a part of this movement that is happening in our country. I feel like all of us are playing a role in this.” Davids’ is a starring role.
A champion for all people, Davids is already working on opening a second office in her district, to offer better access to her constituents. She is as eager to jump in to fight for election and campaign reform, and is seeking solutions for government workers whose wages have been frozen by the shutdown. A hero in the martial arts arena, Sharice Davids is an inclusive, empathetic, political hero, too, and this is her moment.