In any 2019 Year in Review, the lead must be the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. It took over the news media for months culminating in a vote of two Articles of Impeachment against the president by the House of Representatives. A Senate trial is expected in 2020, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to send the articles to the Senate before holiday recess.
Much of 2019 was consumed with the disgusting policies of the Trump administration and supported by his Republican sycophants in Congress. It is clear there is no Republican Party as we once knew it; rather it is now the Party of Trump. We have a president whose tweets have taken over the headlines and reading them can make anyone with a brain and a lick of decency sick to their stomach. He and his administration kept doing things to take our country backwards and designed to make happy our enemies abroad and white nationalists, neo-Nazis, sexists, racists and homophobes here at home.
So much was focused on all of this it overshadowed some wonderful things that happened. At the federal government level, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives under the leadership of Pelosi passed literally hundreds of great bills moving forward progressive goals on such issues as gun control, healthcare, voting rights, climate change and education. These bills are now accumulating dust on the desk of ‘Moscow Mitch,’ otherwise known as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.).
We are in the midst of a Democratic primary and while some have a problem with one candidate or another every person running for the Democratic nomination for president is head-and-shoulders better than Trump. In November, Democrats celebrated great results in the Virginia legislative elections when they took over both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1995. Then there were victories in both the Kentucky and Louisiana gubernatorial elections, all this boding well for Democrats in 2020. When it came to local government in D.C. for the first time in many years people have a much more positive view of their public school system and student achievement is going up. Residents also have a very positive view of Mayor Muriel Bowser.
While it was sad to see Michael Kahn retire after 33 years as artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, it was exciting when Georgetown University presented him an honorary doctoral degree. Also good news for theater lovers was the first season of shows at the STC commissioned by the very talented Simon Godwin who took over the position of artistic director from Kahn.
Another highlight of 2019 was the Washington Blade’s celebration of 50 years of service to the LGBTQ community with great reporting, exciting editions of the paper with a new cover design, culminating with a successful gala. The beneficiary of the gala was the Blade Foundation, which is offering fellowships and scholarships to aspiring LGBTQ journalists. Then I personally had the honor of writing about dozens of members of the LGBTQ+ community in my Comings & Goings column. It is fun to share information on members of the community who got new jobs, received awards, wrote books, and in general had great success.
It is also the year of the next generations. Mayor Pete who is only 37 and openly gay is being taken seriously as a candidate for president. Greta Thunberg who is only 16 from Sweden was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for her activism on climate change. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who organized the March for our Lives in 2018 have continued their fight for gun control throughout 2019 and those like David Hogg now at Harvard continue to lead this organization of young activists.
As we move into 2020, it is clear the first part of the year will be taken up with headlines about the impeachment trial of Trump in the United States Senate. It is my hope it ends quickly and the focus can be returned to the 2020 elections. We know Trump will not be convicted by Republicans who control the Senate. It will be a year focused on the November elections with the first months leading to Democrats choosing their nominee to run against Trump and the second part of the year heading to the Nov. 3, 2020 election of the next president. Let’s hope the headline in a review of 2020 will be ‘Decent Americans reclaim their country!’
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.