Democrat Tammy Duckworth just ousted an incumbent Republican senator, which is a big deal

As we all collectively watch our Twitter feeds biting our nails over the presidential race results slowly filtering in, here’s some good news from Illinois: Democrat Tammy Duckworth just won her race against an incumbent Republican senator, Mark Kirk, which is a pretty big deal for a number of reasons. For starters, while much is made of the fact that we’ve yet to have a female president, it’s worth noting that in the history of our nation we’ve only had 46 female senators, and Duckworth is going to be one of those.

And on an intersectional level, not only is Duckworth the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress in her state, but as an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs and severely damaged her right arm, Duckworth additionally represents differently abled Americans and veterans, who are frequently marginalized by politicians unable to identify with their struggles. Just as plentiful research suggests that female legislators, empathetic with their fellow females, place emphasis on sponsoring and passing women’s rights bills, effectively proving the power of the political representation of marginalized groups beyond symbolism.

But on an equally critical note, Duckworth reclaiming President Obama’s former senate seat from Kirk could signal a crucial shift in Congress’ current Republican majority. A Democratic Congress is not only important but requisite in order to enact the chances detailed in the Democratic party’s most progressive platform yet, as even if elected, a President Hillary Clinton couldn’t pass the platform by herself.

Duckworth’s victory could take us that much closer to progress on affordable college education and healthcare, securing access to reproductive rights, immigration reform, dismantling mass incarceration and the War on Drugs, among other crucial progressive issues.

“I feel very confident, but I don’t take anything for granted which is why I’m still campaigning,” Duckworth told ABC News early Tuesday. Duckworth is a second-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates.

Despite notable racist gaffes, Kirk, for his own part, is hardly a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio: he’s pro-choice, supports gun control measures and bipartisan plans for immigration reform, and his loss arguably signals a shift in the Republican party toward extremism.