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’s some highlights of the wins we got in 2019. They represent a tapestry of great outcomes that were secured thanks to the efforts and activism of regular citizens, judges ruling against hateful Republican policies, and stories of the Trump administration being held accountable.
On January 3rd, the 116th Congress was sworn in, including the now-majority Democratic House of Representatives. Thanks again to everyone who worked so hard to get us those great wins from the 2018 Midterms!
With the Democrats in the majority, that also meant that a Democrat needed to be the Speaker of the House, and Nancy Pelosi, with the full confidence of the Democratic caucus, retook the gavel from the Republicans.
After a 35 day government shutdown, Trump conceded to pressure on Jan. 25 that he reopen the government–all without the funding for the wall that he had been insisting on.
A federal judge found that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had violated federal law by misleading the public and his own department about the reason why he wanted to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census. This decision was a death knell for the administration’s attempt to weaponize the Census.
New York state passes a series of voting rights bills to greatly expand access to the ballot.
Mayor Bowser of Washington D.C. signs gun violence prevention legislation that creates a Red Flag law and prohibits bump stocks in the city (via Moms Demand)
The government shutdown had delayed Trump’s State of the Union speech, which didn’t happen until Feb. 5. I’m not saying the State of the Union speech was a “win” per se for us, but Nancy Pelosi’s “clap” at Trump became iconic instantly.
Governor Sisolak signs legislation to require background checks on all gun sales in Nevada. (via Moms Demand)
Michigan voters gain the right to vote absentee without needing an “excuse.”
New Mexico enacts automatic voter registration, becoming the 16th state to get it.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signs legislation to require background checks on all gun sales in New Mexico. (via Moms Demand)
The U.S. House passes HR 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping pro-democracy bill that tackles campaign finance reform, ethics, and voting rights.
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank, announced that the bank was ending investment in the private prison industry.
A federal judge in Texas ordered state officials to stop the planned purge of about 98,000 voters from the state voter rolls, concluding that they had mistakenly concluded that those voters were not eligible.
The Utah state legislature passed, and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a hate crimes law that creates stiffer penalties for people convicted of targeting others because of their sexual orientation, race, religion or other factors.
In New York, a new law took effect that allows residents to take up to three hours of paid time off to vote on election day.
Lori Lightfoot wins her election to become the first black woman and openly gay person elected to serve as mayor of Chicago.
On April 18, the Department of Justice released the full 448 page Mueller Report (with some redactions). This really is a culmination of wins–first that our activism back in 2017 got Robert Mueller named in the first place but later, we did not accept Attorney General Bill Barr’s letter with his “summary” of the Report and forced him to release the full Report.
Three more states (CO, DE, NM) join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Trump and national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, reported to a federal prison to begin serving a three-year sentence for tax evasion and making false statements.
Montana Governor Bullock vetoed two dangerous gun bills that would have allowed guns in public parks and K-12 schools, and would have allowed state legislators with a concealed carry permit to carry in public buildings. (via Moms Demand)
In a win for criminal justice reform advocates, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has stated that he will no longer sign any legislation that imposes a minimum mandatory sentence, a practice that has long disadvantaged communities of color. He is also vetoing two pieces of legislation that recently passed that imposed minimum mandatory sentences.
Claire Sarnowski, a high school student in Oregon, was so moved by a Holocaust survivor who spoke at her school, that she worked with him and her state senator to sponsor legislation to require that the Holocaust be taught in public schools. The bill was passed by the legislature and then signed by the governor.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill outlawing conversion therapy (that seeks to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity).
The first Democratic debates with our presidential candidates air. I call this a win because what I saw those two nights was a big, strong field of Democrats. A strong and deep bench, you might call it. One of them is going to be our nominee–and I can’t wait to help that person kick Trump out of the White House.
Oregon Governor Brown signed legislation that will help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. (via Moms Demand)
In some wins for reproductive rights, Illinois Governor signed a law to protect various reproductive rights, a state court judge in Missouri granted a preliminary injunction to protect abortion access, and CEOs from 180 companies signed on to a full-page letter in the New York Times to condemn restrictive state abortion laws.
After a Supreme Court decision that didn’t go their way and staring down a big deadline to start printing questionnaires, the Trump administration decided to give up chasing the citizenship question on the census.
Special Counsel Bob Mueller testified about the Mueller Report. Considering how few Americans read the Report, hearing Mueller testify on live television was likely the first time many citizens heard what was actually in the Report, as opposed to the false narrative Attorney General Barr had constructed the month before.
Congress finally passed the extension for the 9/11 bill, after persistent lobbying by Jon Stewart and others. His impassioned and angry testimony, particularly directed at Mitch McConnell who was seen as being the primary impediment to getting the extension passed, helped build enormous pressure on Congress. This picture was taken shortly after the bill was passed:
One of the most heartwarming stories of love and solidarity of the year followed the terrible El Paso mass shooting. Antonio Basco lost his wife in the tragedy and since he had no family other than her, he offhandedly told the media that “anyone was welcome.” This news traveled like wildfire on social media. He certainly did not expect what then happened: Well over 700 people showed up at the funeral home to offer their condolences, and dozens of flower arrangements were sent (some of the orders came from as far away as New Zealand).
Stacey Abrams launches Fair Fight, an organization focused on tackling voter suppression and driving voters to the polls.
The huge PR firm Edelman, dropped GEO Group as a client over their involvement with running ICE detention centers. Big corporations generally make big decisions like this when they believe that not doing so will harm their future prospects.
A federal judge in Georgia issued a ruling ordering state officials to end its use of outdated electronic voting machines by the end of the year.
Multiple major companies ban open carry from their stores: Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, Albertsons, Publix, Aldi, and more. This was followed by a letter signed by 145 business leaders urging the U.S. Senate to take action on gun safety.
Over 4 million people marched to bring attention to the climate change crisis all over the world. The marches were sparked by numerous student activists, of which Greta Thunberg is the most famous.
A spokesperson for Mitch McConnell’s PAC let it slip that Republicans think they won’t get much help from the NRA for the 2020 elections. Between their internal turmoil and lackluster fundraising, there isn’t much money there for them to give to elections. Yeah!
National Voter Registration Day 2019 was a great success, with 473,725 voters getting registered — the biggest number ever for an off-cycle election year!
On September 26, we all become aware of the whistleblower complaint, which triggered impeachment hearings and starts with this bombshell: “In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
After much work from activists, the Georgia Dignity Act went into effect in all women’s prison facilities in the state, ensuring basic necessities like menstrual supplies as well as banning harmful practices such as solitary confinement and shackling of pregnant people.
Dick’s Sporting Goods destroyed $5 million worth of its semi-automatic weapons stock.
In a rare sign of bipartisanship, the House voted 354-60 on a resolution to oppose the Trump administration’s move to withdraw US forces from Syria.
At a White House meeting with the leaders of Congress, Trump insulted Nancy Pelosi in an outburst multiple attendees called “a meltdown.” The meeting was on the heels of the Syria resolution vote (see above). Pelosi stood up for herself in the meeting, and the moment was captured in this photograph. Trump tweeted out the photo thinking it made her look unhinged but the internet disagreed (as did Pelosi who promptly made it her Twitter banner photo.)
The 2019 November elections brought us a whole host of wins: Andy Beshear won the Kentucky governor’s race, flipping that seat; There were enough flips in both the Virginia state legislative chambers to give control to the Democrats; and so much more.
The public impeachment hearings for Trump began. Once again, public, televised hearings brought important, and devastating, information into Americans’ living rooms.
Roger Stone was found guilty on 7 counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and more. Stone was a longtime confidant of Trump’s and the connector to WikiLeaks. He was the sixth Trump adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of Mueller’s investigation.
A New York judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million to a group of nonprofit organizations as part of a settlement in a lawsuit. The lawsuit found that Trump and his family had committed multiple and recurring violations of state charities laws.
On December 4, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would draw up articles of impeachment against Trump.
The House passes HR 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act. This is yet another reminder of how much work the House has gotten done alongside all of the impeachment work.
On December 18, President Trump is impeached in the House of Representatives on two counts: abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress.
Following the impeachment, three conservative/religious groups write influential opinion pieces urging the Senate to uphold their oaths of office regarding impeachment: Christianity Today, the National Review, and Mormon Women for Ethical Government.
A poll that measures voter enthusiasm found that 50% of the electorate is extremely enthusiastic about voting in 2020. By comparison, only 26% were that enthusiastic going into 2016, and even right before Obama’s first election in 2008, only 37% were enthusiastic. While voters on both sides of the aisle were surveyed for the poll, we all know that if turnout is sky high, it usually benefits the Democrats.
Thank you all for reading Political Charge. I am so grateful for this community of readers and organizers!