1.Nancy Pelosi: Twelve months ago, when it was clear that the Democrats had won a substantial majority in the House of Representatives, some pundits suggested that it was time for Nancy Pelosi to move on — someone else should become Speaker of the House.
What a mistake that would have been! During 2019, Pelosi has been the primary leader of the Democratic Party, effectively leading the House Democrats through the treacherous impeachment landscape — and simultaneously overseeing the passage of more than 400 major pieces of legislation. At the end of the year House Democrats impeached Donald Trump, setting the stage for a historic 2020 trial. Thank you, Nancy Pelosi.
2. Increased awareness of Global Climate Change. Because of her vocal leadership on climate change, Greta Thunberg was named Time Magazine’s person of the year (https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg/). But it wasn’t only Greta that spread the word; all over the world, celebrities and politicians stepped up to make the public aware that climate change is an existential threat. As a result, 2019 polls indicate that 75 percent of Americans believe that humans fuel climate change and a strong majority regard it as a crisis. Thank you, Greta Thunberg, Bill McKibben, and the many other climate change leaders.
3. Fire Season has ended. Because of climate change, California had an extended, deadly fire season. During the Kincade fire, my community had to evacuate and go without electricity for six days. Fortunately, most of us escaped the mammoth fire.
We’re thankful that fire season is over. (And that we have since had normal rainfall.) And we’re grateful for the extraordinary efforts of our emergency-service providers.
4. The Democratic Presidential Candidates. So far, Democrats have had 28 politicians announce they would compete for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. At the moment, 15 are still in the competition that begins with the February 3rd Iowa caucuses.
The good news is that these candidates offer a full-spectrum of opinions regarding how to move the United States forward. The bad news is that it’s not obvious who would offer the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. Nonetheless, in a year dominated by Trump’s shadow, each of these candidates offered glimmers of hope.
5. The Whistleblower(s). At the beginning of the year, Democrats believed that the Mueller report — into Russian interference in the 2016 election — would bring to the light the treachery of the Trump campaign. Instead, the report confused Americans; rather than unite us in recognition of Trump’s perfidy, the Mueller report heightened the polarization. Many Democrats fell into a funk.
Then, in September, we learned that a whistleblower had filed a report with the Director of National Intelligence regarding a bizarre phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. In this call, Trump offers a bribe to Zelensky — military aid in return for compromising information on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. As a result of the whistleblower’s complaint, House Democrats began an investigation into Trump’s actions that eventually resulted in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Thanks to the whistleblower and the others who are providing detailed information about Trump’s treachery. And thanks to the investigative journalists that continue to tell the truth about what goes on in Trump’s White House.
6. Reporters and Aid-workers at the Southern Border. The heinous Trump Administration “family- separation” policy began in 2018 and has continued to this date. In January of 2019, the White House admitted that they had separated more children than had previously been reported and they did not have an adequate tracking system in place. (At the end of the year, whistleblowers reported that almost 70,000 children had been detained.)
Throughout 2019, reporters and aide-workers have been at the border, chronicling the consequences of the family-separation policy and — whenever possible — providing comfort to the children and their families. Thank you aide-workers who minister to the suffering. (And thank you to activists everywhere.)
7. The New Democrats in the 2019 House of Representatives. In January, Democrats welcomed 59 new members to the House — their most diverse class ever. The most notable of these new congresswomen was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We can say a lot about AOC but most importantly, she, and her associates brought a breath of fresh air to the Democratic Party. Thank you, AOC and associates, for shaking up the Dems.
8. Democracy Advocates. Even though much of the world has been under the shadow of Donald Trump, and other totalitarian leaders, there have continued to be political actions by advocates for Democracy. In Hong Kong. Russia. Iraq. Even Saudi Arabia.
We’re grateful for all those who stood up for Democracy. Hold on, in 2020 we’ve got your back.
9. Nature. In 2019 my family completed our move to the country. What a blessing! No matter how dreadful the state of U.S. politics, taking a walk among the Redwoods always cheers me up.
10. Music. In hard times like these, music is my go-to source of comfort: Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash…
2020 brought the wonderful Ken Burns “Country Music” documentary series. And the stories of how music transformed the impoverished lives of the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and many others. “Country Music” was a reminder of the rejuvenating power of the music of the American people. And, a reminder that, even in these dark times, there is more that unites us than divides us.