How the Congressional Pink Wave Is Changing the Face of Leadership

In the run-up to last year’s midterm elections, pundits chewed through hours of cable news programming, speculating about a potential blue wave. But while they were right about the oceanic force, they got the shade wrong–it was pink. Forty-two women won their congressional seat for the first time in 2018, the largest total since the 27 elected in 1992, the first “Year of the Woman.”

The record-setting congresswomen also sent a surprising message: The American electorate may not be as balkanized as we think. Five of the 13 incoming women of color were elected by majority white districts, according to a New York Times analysis, while more than a third of the Democratic women represent districts won by President Trump. What’s more, the newcomers made it clear that they prioritize legislative action over partisan scrapping; 46 freshman Democrats–more than half of them women–sent a letter to party leadership, urging it to put policy progress ahead of investigations of the administration.

The Kelly Slater of the pink wave is, of course, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose progressive Green New Deal and social media mastery have inspired fans and enraged critics in equal measure. While not every newcomer has AOC’s star power, the new members share her refusal to follow the old rule book–the one whose cover is emblazoned: Wait Your Turn.

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A version of this article appears in the May 2019 issue of Fortune.

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