Laurie and Debbie say:
For the first ten years of this blog, we wrote a Thanksgiving post, listing good things that had happened in the year since the previous Thanksgiving. (We know the shameful history of Thanksgiving very well; we also like taking stock of good things.)
In 2016, less than three weeks out from Trump’s election, we couldn’t bring ourselves to write that post. Instead, we wrote about how we were feeling, and how we were redirecting the blog in resistance. In 2017, we wrote about some of the myriad of places where we saw hopeful possibility. We also said about 2017, “the catalogue of atrocities, cruelties, threats, and stupidities of the current White House and Congress is amazingly long.” Needless to say, that is still true.
One of our examples was Colin Kaepernick and #takeaknee . That movement has, in some ways, gone quiet, suppressed by team owners, but it is not dead. Since our last Thanksgiving blog, Kaepernick has been named an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, and has won the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award given by Sports Illustrated. (Oh, and something from Harvard University, too). Far more important, Kaepernick has changed the national conversation in a way that will continue to reverberate for some time; almost no one looks at a line of ball players singing the National Anthem the same way they used to. Sure, some of the conversation is negative, even very negative, but a lot of it is positive, and passionate. And it’s spreading, including to South Africa,
We also talked about Reverend William Barber II and his moral movement. In 2018, Barber won a Macarthur “Genius Grant” — and got arrested the same day it was announced, supporting workers demanding union rights in Chicago. His movement also put a great deal of effort into Get Out the Vote work in North Carolina earlier this month.
Then there’s #metoo, the earthquake that just keeps going. A year ago we said “No one knows how it will shake out” and that is still true. However, we do know that it hasn’t stopped shaking the world, and shows no sign of stopping. Yes, it’s had failures, including the very high-profile and disheartening failure of the U.S Senate to believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It has also had hundreds, if not thousands, of successes and — like #takeaknee — it has changed the conversation, everywhere. We find it especially encouraging that, while women of color and women in minimum wage jobs are still at greater risk, that conversation is also happening everywhere, sometimes with excellent results.
No one wanted this year to bring us the Parkland students’ movement for school safety and gun-ownership restrictions, including #boycottnra, but that intrepid, tactically brilliant group has made extraordinary progress, and gained the visibility they deserve.
The midterm elections are getting some mainstream press as “mixed results,” or “tepid Democratic victory,” but the truth is that they were not only a blue wave, they were a black and brown and female wave, and they represent an entirely new force in mainstream American politics. Here’s one overview article, and a few high points:
- The first two Native Americans ever elected to national office (both women);
- The first two Muslim-American women ever elected to the House of Representatives;
- Three new black lawmakers, including a mother who became politically active when her son was murdered in a hate crime*;
- Seven additional Hispanic members of the House of Representatives; and
- A record number of women in the Senate, including the first Latinx woman senator.
State legislatures and governors show similar gains. The U.S. has its first openly gay male governor. We have literally never seen a Congress or statehouses like this before. Likely results include: 1) stemming the Trump administration tide at least somewhat, including the fact that the House of Representatives can cut off the money; 2) encouraging many more women, people of color, and LGBTQ people to run next time, and to pay attention to state and local government; 3) changing the paradigm, as Barber, Kaepernick, and the Parkland students (among many others) are doing.
It’s important to mention here that some high-profile losses, like Stacey Abrams’ bid for governor of Georgia and Andrew Gillum’s for governor of Florida, are causing progressives in those states to turn up the gain. Abrams has announced Free Fight Georgia, and she’s a force to be reckoned with. Florida is newly able to change itself, because even in a year when the Republicans took the state offices, 60% of Floridians voted to restore voting rights to 1.4 million Florida citizens who have served their terms as felons in prison, and are now back on the street. Many other important progressive state ballot initiatives passed, including one that will require a unanimous jury of folks in Louisiana to convict on a felony. (Oregon is now the only state where 10 jurors can do that.) Enough power to fix gerrymandering has changed in at least four states–Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado. Just as with the Florida voting rights victory, this opens the way to change the game for the next election.
Look for a 2019 full of Republican atrocities, yes. But also look at the growing ways we have at our fingertips — not only to fight back, but to make end runs around the haters, and create real change.
Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate!
Follow Debbie on Twitter.
*We originally had this incorrect as a death by police violence. Thanks to Lisa for the correction.