The Closing of the Year
While 2017 was arguably the worst year in recent history (floods, fires, gun violence and politics), in 2018 we have one big thing to look forward to — MIDTERM elections. Progressives now have a huge opportunity to flip Congress and restore sanity to America. And the range of people running for election this year is so much more diverse than ever; people of color, women, LGBTQIA, and people of many faiths! But we must do so much more. It’s not enough for these brave souls to put their hats in the ring, we must all show up for them.
- First, make SURE you are registered to vote! This website will give you the contact information for all 50 states to verify whether you are registered.
- Second, find a candidate you support and volunteer to help them–send postcards, make calls, canvass districts, and donate!
- Third, make sure you vote! As we saw in the recent Virginia legislative election, one vote does make a difference!
- Fourth, continue to contact your members of Congress on issues that are important to you!
But the nightmare of Trump and his cronies also had a good side. Women and minority communities have been awakened! Progressive organizations have sprung up overnight and gained thousands of supporters. People traditionally uninvolved in politics are now active! Just a few of the things we have accomplished are listed below:
Let’s begin at the beginning. Ground zero truly is January 21, 2017, a day that has already gone down in history: the Women’s March of 2017. That day marked an incredible coming together, a rallying cry by women from around the world (see photos here), a demonstration of our collective renouncement of the Trump agenda, and a manifestation of the power of Women. (Queue Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman.)
In fact, TWW is a direct product of that movement, coming out of the Pantsuit Nation tsunami. It is estimated that over 4 million people attended marches around the country and in cities in other parts of the world on that day. Since then, women, and men, of all walks, all ethnicities, races, religions and beliefs, have resisted the hate and hypocrisy that was ushered in by the trump election.
From that day forward, we have lurched from one political crisis to the next, but our strength and persistence have held us together. Sometimes, we were incredulous that our own government could abuse us so wretchedly. But now, with so much promise, we prepare for 2018, the year that we take back Congress, and the year that women continue to show the world that our strength lies in our wisdom, our support of each other, and our persistence.
With that, let’s take a little walk down memory lane and review some of the heights of our collective efforts to RESIST!
The Travel Ban
Once the Women’s March was over, we felt like we were just waiting for assignments in the Resistance. Then our first real assignment came, on January 27, when Trump signed an Executive Order banning travel and immigration from seven countries, primarily Muslim. We were outraged, and the response was amazing. People immediately began gathering at airports around the country. Lawyers showed up to offer emergency legal advice. We occupied airports demanding fair and just treatment of refugees and travellers, regardless of their national origin or religion. Many governors and state officials spoke out against the ban. And judges in New York and Massachusetts immediately blocked parts of the order.
The Travel Ban is still being litigated a year later. But our protests and occupations have been hugely effective. In February we continued to fight the travel ban, and the Trump Administration struggled to figure out how to respond. Much of the legal battle has been undertaken by groups like the ACLU. The ACLU has been at the forefront of every legal battle during this administration, alongside the many Resistance groups that work with TWW.
Nevertheless She Persisted
In February, after Trump had unceremoniously fired the remarkable Sally Yates, he nominated the despicable Jeff Sessions (then Senator from Alabama who Doug Jones just replaced!) for Attorney General. During debate about the appointment, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King into the record. McConnell (R – KY) punished Senator Warren saying that she had impugned Senator Sessions with her remarks. He went on to say, infamously, “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
These words became a rallying cry for women. Women everywhere felt the slight personally, relating to the silencing of women throughout society. Senator Warren was not permitted to speak during the rest of the debate. Warren did exit the Senate and speak directly to her constituents via social media, outside the Senate doors. There she continued to read her comments, and refused to be silenced. Nevertheless, she persisted!
Senator Sessions did go on to become the U.S. Attorney General, but there is a very shiny silver lining to this cloud. Senator Warren has become a steadfast beacon for the Resistance. She is one of the few, consistently outspoken Senators currently in Congress. And shortly, the newly elected Democrat Senator from Alabama, Doug Jones will join her there, the consequence of Sessions vacating his seat. Unintended consequences that progressives were able to exploit because we had people in place to fill the role!
In March, Congress tried to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The House was able to pass their version but the Senate could not pull it off. Senate Majority Leader McConnell tried to use underhanded tactics, not allowing open debate and normal committee processes. But we called, emailed and faxed our Senators until it became clear that the bill was so unpopular that it would be nearly impossible to repeal without replacing.
Firing Jim Comey
This may not seem like a win for the Resistance, but the consequences, again, were our gain. After Trump realized he could not demand loyalty from the FBI Director in a Godfather-esque dinner meeting, he decide to get rid of Comey. Most of us, including many elected representatives, were stunned by this unethical and gangster-style behavior. However, the fallout from Comey’s firing, and other revelations about prior Russia investigations, created the possibility to appoint a Special Counsel.
The continued and persistent calls for a Special Investigation by the Resistance, made it a priority in the Senate. Many legislators had been calling for a special prosecutor. In May, Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The investigation continues today, with several notable arrests already carried out. Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos and Flynn have all been arrested in matters related to the Russia investigation. All four have plead guilty to some charges. More arrests and revelations are expected. Stay tuned!
On Election Day, November 7, 2017, Democrats and Progressive candidates had huge wins across the country. Many Resisters felt this was a long awaited victory after months of campaigning. Groups like Indivisible, Swing Left, Sister District, Rapid Resist, MoveOn.org, and 5Calls.org rallied citizens in every state to get candidates elected. Whether you lived in a district where an election took place, or someplace where a progressive already held office, there was a way to participate in the movement. Around the country people wrote postcards, signed up for text and phone banking that could take place remotely, and walked their own districts. We contributed to campaigns everywhere; we did not let the pressure off.
The results of all this work was the most positive news we had all year! New Jersey and Virginia put Democrats in the Governor’s office. Many cities elected Democrat Mayors, including Charlotte, NC, where Vi Lyles was the first black woman mayor ever elected there. Firsts continued with the first openly transgender candidates elected to a variety of offices. Danica Roem has become the first openly transgender person to be elected to a U.S. statehouse. Ironically, and satisfyingly, Roem took the seat from the guy who authored a trans-phobic bathroom bill.
Many more women ran and were elected There was an upsurge in the number of women running at all levels of government. According to Emerge America, the number of women who have sought elected office and the number who have won has skyrocketed. People of color, people of diverse faiths and ethnicities have also won seats. The fruit of all the work by the Resistance has truly been sweet. The citizens who have heeded the call to public service are to be highly commended for their good citizenship and patriotism!
The celebrating has continued with the December special election for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Sessions. The fight was intense. The campaign took strange and disturbing twists when it was revealed that Roy Moore, the Republican challenger, has been accused multiple times of sexual assault against girls as young as 14. The most bizarre twist came when many Alabamians continued to support Moore despite credible victims. Again, we see women being silenced but not allowing it. Doug Jones’ win was truly a satisfying one for people all over the U.S.
As in the November election wins, black women again came out in full force and voted en masse for the progressive candidate. Democrat Doug Jones was narrowly elected, and he has black women to thank largely for that win. 98% of black women voters cast their ballot for Jones. The hashtag #Votelikeblackwomen made the rounds of social media as the resistance recognized and offered overdue respect to black women.
The Racial Justice movement gained momentum throughout this period of upheaval and angst. Another silver lining, perhaps, is that many black women have gained a broader audience for their messages. White America is having to confront its own part in the systemic racism that has become more apparent through the bigoted actions of the current administration.
With the increased focus on Black Lives Matter groups, resistance groups supporting marginalized groups, and the ability of social media to broadcast events and discussions, Racial Justice is getting more attention. Groups like TWW are beginning to address their own racial biases and seeking training to enlighten members. The group Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) “believes in collective liberation — and that none of us can be free until we end white supremacy.” They and other groups are assisting and educating white people to mobilize for Racial Justice.
All in All
It has been a really difficult year, one that many people say was the worst in a very long time. But look at all the good work we have accomplished! The best thing that could happen as a result of Trump’s election did indeed occur. We got up off our butts and we resisted. The process was never an overnight prospect, and their is still MUCH to be done.
One thing that should definitely give us some solace is that we have not given up or given in. Nobody is saying ‘Uncle.’ Quite the opposite, we are working through some very difficult circumstances, trying to come together and support one another, and we have made some great friends in the process.
Take heed of our TWW New Year’s Resolutions: 1. Clean the House, 2. And also the Senate, 3. Run more…candidates who share our views, and 4. Give to organizations that protect our civil liberties!
Happy New Year Resisters! Together We Will in 2018!
Ty Starks Morgan is an attorney who has worked in the foster care system for 24 years. She is the mother of two teen sons, two dogs, three cats, and a plethora of rescued foster animals.
Jacqui Viale is an educator and activist living in Long Beach, California with her husband, two teenagers, two cats, a dog and a lizard. Jacqui holds a masters in Educational Administration from California State University, Long Beach.