” For at least half a century, the party of Lincoln has battled charges that it is racist, sexist and anti-immigrant.
Today, voters from a conservative state made those arguments a little bit harder to make. In Utah, Mia Love became the first black Republican woman — and first Haitian American — elected to Congress.
For the GOP — a house divided that faces significant demographic hurdles to winning the White House in 2016 even as it celebrates President Obama’s shellacking — this was huge. A party threatened with extinction among African Americans and immigrants now has someone to brag about in Washington. In a wave election less about fresh Republican ideas than fervid disapproval of all things presidential, Love’s compelling personal story is an oasis. She’s not just a black face in what’s often described as a party full of angry old white men. She’s a path forward.
It’s hard to overstate how unlikely Love’s victory looked on paper. Utah is less than 1 percent black. Though more than 60 percent of the state’s population identifies as a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, the church is just 3 percent black. Love, 38, is one of these few black Mormons — part of a church that, until 1978, didn’t let African Americans participate in all church activities and still hasn’t apologized for its racism. “