In American politics, the 2018 midterms constituted a blue wave with Democratic candidates sweeping into elected office across the country, including taking control of the United State House of Representatives. This was due in massive part to an unprecedented number of women running, many of them as first time candidates. Journalist Caitlin Moscatello explores the state of American politics that led to this shift by focusing on four women and their historic campaigns: Abigail Spanberger, Anna Eskamani, London Lamar, and Catalina Cruz.
Candidates run for office for any number of reasons, but Moscatello’s expert reporting suggests 2018 was different than usual. After a feeling of relative safety for Democrats heading into the 2016 presidential election, there was pure panic after the loss of Hillary Clinton and the rise of Donald Trump. Yet from this adrenalin-fueled alarm rose a sense of urgency— something that’s obvious in any of the number of compelling interviews with politicians, activists, and political operatives highlighted by Moscatello.
But choosing to become involved is just the first hurdle in a long process. Fortunately for readers, Moscatello’s backstage access seems unparalleled. By taking a broad political movement and focusing on a cast of four, she’s able to weave a throughline, from jumping into the race all the way through election night, while also highlighting other candidates, like Stacey Abrams and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, anecdotally. It’s a thorough framework, made even more engrossing by Moscatello emphasizing both federal and state house races, from Abigail Spanberger and the U.S. House of Representatives to Catalina Cruz and the New York State Assembly.
Beyond the interviews that consider everything from canvassing to juggling personal lives with political, Moscatello analyzes the historical context for the current influx of female candidates. After all, 2016 might have signified a breaking point for many, but it wasn’t the starting point. Refreshing when compared to other authors in this realm, Moscatello has such a clear style when expressing complicated points, like tracing political engagement leading to this period.
Above all, there’s a level of optimism that permeates each campaign— not just for their own success, but also for the future. These campaigns are difficult, and often frustrating, but there’s always a hopeful look to the future of politics.
Title: See Jane Win: The Inspiring Story of the Women Changing American Politics
Author: Caitlin Moscatello
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Classification: Nonfiction, Politics
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.