New Year’s Day was clear and sunny on the Left coast and it was easy to imagine that 2019 would be “all green lights and smooth sailing,” as unlikely as that seems at the moment. Nonetheless, while 2018 ended with a government shutdown, and a flurry of ugly Trump Tweets, the year wasn’t all bad. Here are ten reasons to be thankful.
1. The Blue Wave: Democrats won control of the House of Representative and Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House. (Pelosi is the right person to lead the Democratic Party up to the presidential convention in July of 2020.)
Meanwhile, Democrats are energized. More than 116 million Americans voted in the midterm elections; 49.3 percent of the voting-eligible population — the highest midterm percentage since 1914 (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/19/18103110/2018-midterm-elections-turnout ). 538’s Nate Silver estimates that more than 60 million voters cast ballots for Democratic congressional candidates — compared to 63 million Trump voters in 2016. Silver did a projection of what the electoral college would look like in 2020 (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-2018-map-looked-a-lot-like-2012-and-that-got-me-thinking-about-2020/ ) — Trump versus an anonymous Democrat and Dems win with 314 electoral votes.
2. The Resistance: Even before Donald Trump was coronated, Democratic protest groups — such as Indivisible — sprang up across the United States. One of their objectives was to flip congressional districts where, in 2016, Hillary Clinton prevailed but a Republican won the congressional contest. This objective was accomplished: Democrats won 235 seats (of 435), with one to be determined.
In the first days of 2019, Indivisible groups were back at work.
3. Female Democrats: After November 6th, Pew Research noted: “Nationally, voters favored Democratic candidates for Congress over Republican candidates by a margin of about 7 percentage points… [However] Women favored the Democratic candidate in their district by 19 percentage points (59% to 40%) while men voted for the Republican 51% to 47%.” (White women split 49 percent to 49 percent; while college educated women favored the Democratic candidate 59 percent to 39 percent.)
In the 2018 midterms, 116 women were elected to Congress, bringing the total to 126 (23.6 percent). There are now 102 female members of the House of Representatives — the highest number in history. 89 of these women are Democrats, 37.9 percent of the Democratic majority.
The Democratic wing of Congress is beginning to look like America.
4.Brave women continue to talk about sexual abuse: The #MeToo movement began In October of 2017, with the allegation about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Reuters reports that over the next 365 days more than 425 prominent men were accused of sexual misconduct (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-me-too-anniversary/ ).
There were many #MeToo stories during the year. None more dramatic than the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate committee deliberating on the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Blasey Ford testified that, as a teenager, she had been assaulted by a drunken Kvanaugh. (Ultimately Republicans confirmed Kavanaugh, following the logic that whatever happened, it was a long time ago and Kavanaugh has been redeemed by his work as a lawyer and judge.)
Thank you, Christine Blasey Ford, and the other brave women who came forward.
5. The Press: Throughout the year, Trump complained about “fake news” and non-laudatory news sources — everyone except for Fox News. The reality was that the U.S. mainstream media did an exemplary job covering the various outrages of the Trump Administration.
At the end of the year, Time Magazine’s “person the year award was given to a group of journalists it called “The Guardians,” referring to individuals “who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/time-2018-person-of-the-year_us_5c0ed93ee4b08bcb )
Thank you, Jamal Khashoggi and the other journalists who daily risk their lives to tell the truth about Trump and the rise of Authoritarianism.
6. The Mueller Investigation: Dating from Watergate (1972-74), the average length of a special counsel investigation, involving a President, is 904 days. Robert Mueller’s investigation has gone on 597 days. So far it has produced 36 indictments and five major plea deals.
At year end, the Mueller investigation was one of 17 investigations involving Donald Trump and his closest associates. (https://www.wired.com/story/mueller-investigation-trump-russia-complete-guide/ )
Thank you, Robert Mueller and the other investigators who slogged through the legal jungle determined to reveal the truth about Trump.
7. The Parkland survivors: On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others. It was the most horrific U.S. school shooting.
In the aftermath, student survivors formed an anti-gun-violence group, “Never Again,”culminating in a March 24th, “March for Our Lives,” in Washington, D.C. At year-end, national sentiment had shifted towards “common-sense” gun-control legislation. ( http://www.people-press.org/2018/10/18/gun-policy-remains-divisive-but-several-proposals-still-draw-bipartisan-support/ )
Thank you, Parkland survivors and the many others who are changing the dialogue about gun violence.
8. The Immigrant defenders: Beginning in April, the Trump Administration changed their stance on illegal crossings at the Mexican border. The result was the separation of parents and children — sending them to separate facilities rather than keeping them together in detention centers.
There was a strong response to this policy — which continues in a slightly different form — and many American aid organizations provided support to the immigrant families. In August, CNN asked, “When immigrants and their children are detained at the U.S. border for coming into the country illegally, do you think the U.S. should do everything it can to keep such families together, even if it means that fewer face criminal prosecution, or should the U.S. do everything it can to prosecute immigrants entering illegally, even if it means their families are separated?” 66 believed our policy should be to keep families together.
9. Climate Change Truth Tellers: 2018 was a year of extreme weather-related events: hurricanes, forest fires, floods, and ice storms. In December, Quinnipiac asked, “Do you think that the extreme weather events in the United States over the past few years are related to climate change, or don’t you think so?” 61 percent of respondents think they are.
Thank you, Climate Change truth tellers working to save humanity before it is too late.
10. And many others: Thank you to all those who worked to protect voting rights. And, of course, thank you to the (under-paid and under-appreciated) teachers who work to educate America’s children so that they can appreciate our Democracy.