These are the highlights of the wins we got in 2018. They represent a tapestry of great outcomes that were secured by the efforts and activism of citizens, swift public backlash against racist and hateful news, judges ruling against the Trump administration, and the press uncovering corruption and other misdeeds by politicians.
Doug Jones, who flipped one of the most unlikely seats in the Senate, was sworn in as Alabama’s newest senator on January 3. Foreshadowing of the year to come?
Crushed by lawsuits and finding no evidence of voter fraud, Trump’s “election integrity” commission, headed by VP Pence and Kris Kobach (who had a bad year) got disbanded.
The North Carolina district map was ruled to be unconstitutional, and although the NC GOP pushed back, the ruling was confirmed again in August.
Then, the Pennsylvania district map was deemed unconstitutional. A new map was created and used during the 2018 midterms, which made races much more competitive for Democrats.
Defenders of DACA got a win early in the year when a judge ruled that Trump must partially reinstate DACA. That set up a bigger win in August when a federal judge ruled that DACA must be fully restored.
A red-to-blue flip that sent shockwaves through Wisconsin: In a special election, Democrat Patty Schachtner flipped a state senate seat that in the previous election had gone to the Republican by 26 points.
Steve Bannon was forced to leave Breitbart which also got him kicked off SiriusXM.
The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland shooting was yet another gut-wrenching moment for our nation. But it unleashed a torrent of activism among teenagers. Starting with Emma Gonzalez’ raw and moving speech in the wake of the shooting and followed by the incredible participation in the March For Our Lives rally (in March), the Parkland students sparked action where inaction had been the rule. By mid-May, 25 gun safety bills had been signed into law in 15 states.
Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, left the White House after the widespread outrage on social media when his domestic abuse came to light. It was especially egregious to learn that the abuse had come to light in his background check and John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, didn’t ask him to resign.
Utah high schooler Kiana Phillips organized and successfully got her school to change its name from Andrew Jackson to Mary W. Jackson, the first black woman to work as an engineer at NASA.
By the end of February, 5 people had pleaded guilty and 22 had been charged in the Mueller-led investigation into Russian interference.
Teachers in West Virginia strike and 9 days later successfully win pay increases. Strikes in Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Arizona follow.
All eyes were on Texas, which had the first primary of the midterms season, to see if all of the Democratic activism and enthusiasm from the previous year would translate into turnout at the polls. Double the number of citizens voted for Democrats compared to the 2014 primary!
Washington state enacted Automatic Voter Registration, and later in the year Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey did, too.
In solidarity with the gun control message, Lyft offered free rides to students to attend the March for our Lives rallies in 30 cities.
A park in Baltimore previously dedicated to Confederate generals was re-dedicated to abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The Trump administration had some highly public departures: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was ousted; then Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was forced out due to his mounting scandals; in response, Trump named the Physician to the President Ronny Jackson as the new nominee for the VA, only to have his nomination go down in flames as Sen. Jon Tester, among others, sounded the alarm about Jackson’s background.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting senator to give birth. Then, thanks to her advocacy, the Senate voted unanimously to allow senators to bring infants up to one year of age into the chamber.
Paul Ryan announced that he would not run for re-election.
Spooked by the Democratic flip earlier in the year (see January), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had been refusing to call special elections for two open state legislative seats. Obama’s former attorney general Eric Holder sued and won. The judge ordered Walker to call special elections and set the dates immediately.
The Interior Department had proposed raising the entrance fee for national parks from $25 to $70. After receiving well over 100,000 public comments on the proposed change, Interior backed off of the proposal and only raised the fees modestly to $35.
The Nebraska legislature blocked legislation requiring voters to show photo ID.
Voters in Ohio passed a new redistricting process that limits the potential for gerrymandering. The new process will be used during the next round of redistricting, after the 2020 Census.
The Colorado state legislature created a bipartisan solution to solve gerrymandering which then went to the voters. At the midterms, voters approved the measure.
Voters in Maine overruled their legislators with a “people’s veto” to permit ranked choice voting for their primary in June.
After organizing for two years, a group of high school teenagers got the Governor of Utah to sign a resolution acknowledging that climate change is real.
When she won her primary election, Stacey Abrams became the first African American woman to be a major party nominee for governor in America.
Once the Trump administration admitted they were indeed separating children from their parents at the border, the outrage was everywhere and citizens rushed to help in any way they could. As one example, a California couple’s fundraiser to reunite migrant families, which had an original goal of $1,500, raised $20 million for RAICES Texas and ended up breaking Facebook’s record for a grassroots fundraiser.
Thousands of demonstrators turned out for the Keep Families Together Day of Action, and Trump was pressured to sign an executive order halting the practice of separating families. Ultimately, a judge ruled that the administration had to reunite families within 30 days, a deadline that the Dept. of Homeland Security did not meet. The issue continues to this day, as do the activists and Democratic politicians working to solve the ongoing crisis.
In the Virginia primary, women swept nearly all of the competitive House races.
In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach lost his lawsuit to keep his discriminatory voter ID rules in place. The judge in the case further reprimanded Kobach for some of his tactics and ordered him to take hours of legal education before he could renew his legal license.
New Hampshire passed legislation that outlawed discrimination against transgender people, and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed it into law.
Across the pond, over 100,000 protesters greeted Trump during his visit to London. More protesters showed up to his visits to Scotland and Finland, as well.
A judge ruled that Virginia lawmakers must draw new, fair voting district maps by October 30.
Patagonia announced that they were making November 6 a paid day off to enable all employees to vote in the midterm elections. Hundreds of companies ultimately signed on to a pledge to give their employees time off to vote in the election.
Crushed by an avalanche of corruption and other scandals, Scott Pruitt resigned as the Administrator of the EPA.
Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference continued to secure outcomes: Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted at trial, one person had been sent to prison, and a total of 35 defendants had been charged.
In a growing sign that the president and his company was not immune to being sued, the Illinois Attorney General sued Trump Tower Chicago for violating clean water laws.
A federal judge ruled that DACA must be fully reinstated.
InfoWars is kicked off of YouTube, Facebook, and Spotify, and Twitter kicked off Alex Jones from its platform the following month.
The Pentagon postponed Trump’s military parade when there was growing criticism of the large price tag associated with it; some estimates were upwards of $92 million. The Pentagon only said that they would “explore possibilities” of the parade being held in 2019.
A federal judge rejected the administration’s attempt to dismiss two pending lawsuits challenging a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Americans wrote an astonishing 250,000+ comments objecting to the US Census citizenship question.
Although the end result of the hearings for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh did not end up the way we wanted, we should nonetheless recognize the incredible activism that sprung up in response. Thanks to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s congressional testimony and activists like Ana María Archila who held Sen. Jeff Flake’s elevator to ensure he heard her story of sexual assault, national attention was focused on the issue of sexual assault and the need to #BelieveSurvivors.
A federal judge, one appointed by Trump no less, ruled that Robert Mueller’s probe was constitutional and legitimate, and would continue.
The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that required dark money donors to be revealed.
A federal judge ruled against Betsy DeVos, ruling that her delays of Obama-era regulations regarding loan forgiveness were illegal.
A federal judge blocked the administration’s efforts to end Temporary Protected Status for 300,000 immigrants. More than 50 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Nepal, and Somalia drove across the country to stand up for immigrants who would be affected by the Trump Administration’s plan to end TPS.
In North Dakota, when the very specific voter suppression tactics against Native Americans came to light, tribal governments announced that tribal officials would be present at every reservation polling place to issue a tribal voting letter that included name, date of birth, and residential address.
In Kansas, a GOP official lost his job after making offensive, racist comments about Democratic Congressional candidate Sharice Davids. And in Connecticut, a GOP candidate dropped out of his race after saying terrible things about a Parkland high school survivor. In both cases, it was the pressure from a quick and red-hot public backlash that contributed to those outcomes.
A judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for Trump to deny San Francisco federal funding because of their sanctuary city policies.
The moment we had been waiting for arrived–the midterms! The blue wave most definitely materialized: the Democrats gained control of the House, flipped 8 governor’s mansions, flipped 6 state legislative chambers, broke the Republican supermajority in 4 state chambers, and flipped over 360 state legislative seats. Plus…
More midterm results:
✦ Florida voted for a measure that will restore the voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences
✦ Ayanna Pressley became the first African-American woman to serve Congress from Massachusetts
✦ Gerri Cannon won her race to become the first transgender representative in the New Hampshire legislature
✦ Sharice Davids (KS) and Debra Haaland (NM) won their races to become the first two Native American women to ever serve in Congress
✦ Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia won their races to become the first Latina women to represent Texas in Congress
✦ Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ilhan Omar (MN) won their races to become the first Muslim American women to serve Congress
✦ 52 African-Americans were elected to the U.S. House
✦ Democrats flipped 4 state attorney generals and 2 secretaries of state offices
✦ Voters in Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri approved initiatives that will have districts drawn in a non-partisan way, which will reduce gerrymandering
✦ Nevada passed their automatic voter registration initiative
✦ Maryland voters approved having same-day voter registration
✦ All 19 African-American women who ran for a judicial seat in Harris County (3rd largest in Texas) won their races
✦ My favorite losses of the night: Scott Walker (R) lost his re-election bid to remain as Wisconsin’s governor, and Kris Kobach (R) lost his bid to become Kansas’ governor. (I told you he had a bad year.)
✦ Latinx participation surged 174 percent in 2018, compared to the 2014 midterms, according to the DCCC
✦ Turnout surged: In the 2014 midterms, 36.7% of eligible voters voted, but in the 2018 midterms, 50.1% of eligible voters voted
The day after the midterms, Jeff Sessions resigned as U.S. Attorney General at Trump’s request. Trump named Matt Whitaker, who is not Senate-confirmed, as the acting AG.
The firing of Sessions and appointment of the highly partisan Whitaker was a red line for activists all over the country, and it triggered rapid response rallies. Despite the exhaustion from all the activity in preparation for the midterms, thousands of people in cities all over the country turned out to protest the appointment and called for the Special Counsel’s investigation to be protected from Trump’s interference.
ActBlue announced that $1.6 billion was raised in small dollar donations for the 2018 midterm cycle.
The New York Attorney General shut down the Trump Foundation, and we learned that the Trump inauguration committee is under investigation.
By the end of the year, these were the outcomes from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference: 4 people had been sentenced to prison, 1 was convicted at trial, 7 had pleaded guilty, and 36 defendants had been charged.
Faced with mounting legal investigations, Ryan Zinke resigned at Secretary of the Interior.
SCOTUS ruled that the Trump administration cannot enforce their ban on asylum seekers, with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the liberal-leaning judges.
I know it’s hard when we’re faced with an avalanche of terrible things happening in our country every day, but it is important to find the bright spots. It helps keep us going. Here are some places that collect good news every week: Americans of Conscience Checklist; What Went Right; Good Black News; Good News by Marla Felcher; and Small Victories.
If your favorite story from 2018 isn’t on this list, leave a comment to let me know what it is! And if you enjoyed the list, consider sharing it with your social circle. Thanks!
Take Charge of your Activism