It’s been a grueling, action-packed year. Along with a dedicated team of coalition partners and progressive activists, we’ve experienced some upsetting losses in 2019 – but we’ve also scored some major wins.
Thanks to what we accomplished this year, the progressive movement is well-poised to tackle 2020 with the fervor and tenacity it will require. Until then, please enjoy a few highlights of all you’ve helped make possible this year.
Flipping Virginia Blue
With hundreds of members backing us through volunteering and donating, PFAW went all in for the special election in Virginia in 2019 – and our hard work paid off when Virginia voters took to the polls to usher in a new Democratic majority in both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in 25 years. Among those Democratic winners are 19 young, diverse candidates endorsed by our Next Up Victory Fund.
As the bellwether of a blue wave in 2020, these wins are incredibly significant on the federal level. And for the people of Virginia, the new Democratic trifecta (control of both houses of the legislature as well as the governor’s office) allows for some long overdue progressive reform in the state in the next legislative session, which will benefit Virginians for decades to come.
After three years of Trump’s assault on our judiciary, his appointees have threatened our rights in a growing number of key areas – and a growing number of our activists are joining us to reclaim our courts. Together, we’re urging 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to prioritize the federal courts and judges as a central campaign issue. We’ve also recently launched a new tool that connects the dots between Trump judicial appointees and the harm they’re doing to our rights and liberties in 25 key areas.
We fought tirelessly for our democracy in 2019. Amid swirling news of Trump’s abuse of power in Ukraine, a network of coalition partners and hundreds of thousands of activists took to the streets to demand that Trump be held accountable and to remind our country – and our lawmakers – that no one is above the law. The night before the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for betraying his oath of office, our members and activists joined us at about 600 events across the country to show our support for the vote. Undoubtedly, the event marks a somber turning point for our country, but let us also remember it for marking what we can accomplish when we work together.
Passing Progressive Legislation
Democrats in Congress really flexed their muscles in 2019, passing dozens of bills on a range of critical issues, including money in politics, gun background checks, prescription drug cost controls, voting reform, net neutrality, legalization for Dreamers and the Equality Act. House Democrats are clearly committed to the responsibilities of governance –but each of those bills has died in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. In 2020, it’s on all of us to hold Senate Republicans accountable for systematically blocking votes on the bills the House has passed.
Right Wing Watch
Our Right Wing Watch team continued to expose the Right’s extremism, conspiracy theories and ultraconservatism in its reporting and events it hosted. Right Wing Watch’s expertise was credited in national news stories for reporting on numerous findings, from the Religious Right’s connections to the White House, to the growing influence and global spread of white nationalism in politics, to the GOP’s insidious voter suppression strategies and, of course, its responses to the impeachment inquiry.
Separately, PFAW Foundation, including the programs Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, Young People For (YP4) and African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC), helped to develop hundreds of leaders within their networks to engage local communities in progressive advocacy and voter education.
Young Elected Officials Network
In January, the YEO Network held its first YEO Women’s Conference in New York City, bringing together some 100 diverse women-identifying young elected officials for a weekend of capacity building, leadership training and peer support. YEO also held its 14th annual National Convening in Miami, FL featuring a series of inspiring keynote speeches (including one from voting rights activist Desmond Meade), intimate policy discussions, and informative trainings from partner organizations.
Young People For
Our Young People For (YP4) program concluded its Building Power to Win initiative in 2019 and provided free open-to-the-public civic engagement training sessions to over 1,200 young people in 15 states and the two territories. YP4 also hosted our first ever Civic Engagement Summit in Birmingham, Alabama to discuss civic engagement and build a long-term vision for YP4.
Faith-Based Civic Engagement
In 2019, the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) held trainings across 28 states and worked with denominational leadership to educate more than 10,000 faith leaders across the country on the importance and power of access to the ballot box. As we move into 2020, AAMLC is targeting cities in states that have African American populations of 20 percent or more and working to train over 1,500 faith leaders on the VESSELS Vote civic engagement model.