21 Bright Spots From the Political Hellfire of 2019
I think we can all agree that 2019 was, by and large, a political hellfire. But it wasn’t all terrible. A few moments were good, some were great, and some were straight-up hilarious. As we begin our journey into 2020, which will no doubt be 100% perfect and not at all terrible in any way whatsoever (no, you’re ignoring reality), here are our favorite political highlights of 2019.
The women of the impeachment hearings
The House impeachment hearings both excited us and took an emotional toll, probably in equal measures. But the undeniable highlight of the whole process was the testimony from so many incredible women: women like Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, Laura Cooper, and Jennifer Williams and Pamela Karlan.
Apropos of nothing in particular…the women -Amb. Yavanovich, Fiona Hill and now, Prof. Pamela Karlan- who have testified in front of these Impeachment Hearings are amazing and no-nonsense. They make me feel like standing up in my living room, amd shouting, “Yes, girl. Yes!”
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) December 4, 2019
Devin Nunes’ cow
Look, we all needed a laugh in 2019. So never forget that among his many, MANY lawsuits, Congressional Representative Devin Nunes is also trying to sue a Twitter account of a fake cow because he thinks it’s mean.
Hope Devin Nunes doesn’t file another lawsuit because I’m pretty much out of room on my white board and would have to redo the whole thing. pic.twitter.com/JSJBz8ZGbk
— Kate Irby (@kateirby) October 1, 2019
The historic number of women and POC to take the stage in a Democratic presidential debate
Until now, no more than one woman has ever taken the stage in a major US presidential debate. 2019 saw that number increase sixfold, as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, and Tulsi Gabbard all appeared in the first debate. Since then, the stage has gotten much whiter and male-r–something we should all be paying close attention to, as the DNC’s rules seem to be most definitely in need of updating.
The November elections
Not only has voter turnout for off-year and midterm elections skyrocketed since Trump took office, but those voters are overwhelmingly putting Democrats, women, POC, and reproductive rights advocates into office. This past November was no exception.
Journalist Julie K. Brown got the credit she deserved for finally breaking the Jeffrey Epstein cover-up story
More than a decade after the now-deceased billionaire serial abuser Jeffrey Epstein got a totally unethical sweetheart deal (thanks to the illegal dealings of Alexander Acosta, then the prosecutor–not Epstein’s lawyer–in the case and Donald Trump’s future secretary of labor), Brown broke the story of the cover-up, leading to renewed charges against Epstein and his eventual arrest.
Such an important lesson: sometimes the best time to dig into a story is when everyone else thinks it’s over. “There were all of these puzzle pieces out there, and when you put [them] together, with the passage of time, there was this really damning story” https://t.co/mW509Yl4CZ
— Pamela Colloff (@pamelacolloff) July 10, 2019
Nancy Pelosi’s sarcastic clapping meme
The GIF of the Union. The GIF of the year.
Trump’s Twitter lawsuit
Technically, the decision that Donald Trump couldn’t block people on Twitter was decided in 2018, but it was upheld by an appeals court in 2019. That decision has since extended to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, so this isn’t an exclusively partisan move–it may be driven by partisan players, but at its core, it’s striving to make sure no one’s excluded from the larger political cyber “town hall.”
After 9 years of hating Donald J Trump, telling him “lol no one likes you” was the straw pic.twitter.com/MhZ6bXT1Dp
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 25, 2017
All of Trump’s allies going to jail
OH MY GOD. Roger Stone has been found guilty on …. everything. pic.twitter.com/CNjjpvjjmo
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) November 15, 2019
In November, longtime Trump ally and advocate Roger Stone was convicted on all seven counts of major political crimes, including, well, a lot of people. Like, basically all the people:
All in prison. All related to Trump’s campaign.
But sure, it’s the Dems who were corrupt.
— Karoli (@Karoli) November 15, 2019
Trump got booed at that baseball game
Jane Fonda’s arrests
Fonda has been leading some high-profile climate protests and arrests this year. She’s been joined by Grace & Frankie costars like Sam Waterston, Good Place stars Ted Danson and William Jackson Harper, and more.
The women of Congress v. Mark Zuckerberg
Back in October, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress and had his whole ass handed to him by the women of the House Financial Services Committee. If we’re seeking out congressional butt-kickings, we can also look to the same women’s domination of the credit reporting industry. And if you want more Zuckeberg-owning, check out Sacha Baron Cohen’s absolutely incredible speech to the Anti-Defamation League. Also please check out Rep. Katie Porter on Bill Maher’s show. She fully owned that appearance.
That racist citizenship question wasn’t allowed to be included in the census
Trump was obsessed this year with putting a question regarding citizenship on the census. The Supreme Court denied the idea, though they did leave some wiggle room, and for a while, it seemed like he wasn’t going to give up. He appears to have been distracted by bigger issues, though, like his ongoing impeachment battle and his potential removal from office.
SCOTUS heard its first-ever trans rights case
So much of this case is still to be seen, but the fact that the Supreme Court is finally hearing its first transgender rights case is a landmark experience.
Readying for SCOTUS LGBTQ arguments tomorrow.
To be clear, they don’t get to rule on our humanity. They’re ruling on their own.
— Kate Sosin (@shoeleatherkate) October 7, 2019
Megan Rapinoe’s spotlight
This is the moment I became a soccer fan:
— Eight by Eight (@8by8mag) June 25, 2019
Her Woman of the Year acceptance speech, in which she praised Colin Kaepernick’s activism, was also really great.
Greta Thunberg and the historic climate protests worldwide
Between her powerful U.N. speech, her expert trolling of Donald Trump, and inspiring worldwide climate change protests on a historic scale, we’re grateful to Thunberg (as well as all the other young activists don’t get the same amount of attention but fight just as hard to save us all).
Jacob Wohl kept existing and publicly failing for our collective enjoyment
Look, I don’t want to consider anyone’s constant failure to be a “bright spot” of the year but then Jacob Wohl goes and insists on continuing to exist. And by “exist,” I mean he keeps pushing ridiculous conspiracy theories, from essentially writing graphic fanfic about Elizabeth Warren’s purported ravenous sex life to pretending Ilhan Omar’s supporters threatened his life. He keeps trying to put himself in the political spotlight and the only reason we keep covering him is because he keeps failing so spectacularly.
It’s always a good day to be reminded that I got where I am because a great education was available for $50 a semester at the University of Houston (go Cougars!). We need to cancel student debt and make college free for everyone who wants it. pic.twitter.com/fHasLm0j9P
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 3, 2019
Also, just in case you’re still thinking it’s mean to dunk on Wohl and his associates in ineptitude, please remember that he also tried to capitalize on the #MeToo movement–meaning he was attempting to weaponize countless people’s actual accounts of sexual harassment and assault–with apparent fake allegations against Pete Buttigieg.
Democratic candidates added their pronouns to their Twitter bios
Kirsten Gillibrand’s explanation of privilege
Before Gillibrand dropped out of the 2020 race, this was one of the most powerful moments of her campaign.
Today in Youngstown, OH, a woman asked: “This is an area that, across all demographics, has been depressed because of the loss of industry and the opioid crisis. What do you have to say to people in this area about so-called white privilege?”
Here’s what I answered: pic.twitter.com/M8Ld5yjVE6
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) July 12, 2019
Abortion decriminalized in countries around the world
Monica Lewinski reclaimed her own narrative
Towards the end of 2018, Monica Lewinsky made headlines for walking out of an interview that was supposed to be about the “perils and positives of the internet” and instead tried to focus on Bill Clinton. She also decided to participate in a docuseries about “the Clinton Affair.” (“Bye-bye, Lewinsky scandal . . . I think 20 years is enough time to carry that mantle,” she said at the time.)
In 2019, she’s continued on that path of reclamation, giving an absolutely incredible interview to John Oliver, deciding to produce the upcoming American Crime Story adaptation of the political scandal, and settling in as an essential and often hilarious Twitter presence–even before the most recent impeachment ordeal began, but most definitely since then.
an internship at the white house will be amazing on your resume. 😳
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) July 14, 2019
def not me. 👀
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) August 7, 2019
“What’s your name?”
“Like Monica from Friends?”
“Yes. Yes exactly.” https://t.co/5q75NwGtYf
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) March 29, 2019
The impeachment of Donald Trump
These were arranged in no particular order, but obviously this is number one. No matter what happens next in the Senate trial, Donald Trump was impeached and no one can take that from us.
(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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