The 113th Congress is officially at work--and it's the most diverse in history, meaning its members look at least a little bit more like the makeup of the people they were elected to serve. Let's look at the numbers:
- 101 women, including 20 in the Senate alone
- 43 African-Americans
- 31 Latinos
- 12 Asian-Americans
- 7 openly gay or bisexual members
Those seven include newly minted Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who's the country's first openly gay senator and the first woman from her state. Another Tammy joining this Congress, Tammy Duckworth specifically, is an Iraq War vet, and double-amputee who lost her legs while serving in that war, and is now Illinois's new Democratic Congresswoman.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina became the first African-American senator to represent a southern state since Reconstruction. New Hampshire became the first delegation to become exclusively female in the history of our Congress, with only women representing the Granite State in both the House and Senate.
This diversity is good for America. We are a diverse country with diverse ideas, but it's important to remember that our greatness comes when we're able to find common ground. The 112th Congress largely failed at that, and the Tea Party extremists who rejected the concept of compromise were largely responsible for that.
As Rev. Al Sharpton said on Thursday's PoliticsNation, "We now must count on all members of Congress--Democrats and Republicans--to reach across partisan lines," adding that learning to work with others is the hallmark of a security and proud leader. "Only insecure people are afraid of things that aren't identical. If you're really proud of what you are, embrace people on the other side."