Feeling down about America divided? There were some less-publicised but very real wins for progressive politics too that show all is not lost in this shitty old year.
If you’re feeling lost and heartbroken that 70 million-plus Americans voted for Donald Trump, that’s legit. And I won’t try to make you feel better. It’s terrible and awful and it’s completely fair enough to feel gutted about it. But there are some little bright spots in among the stinking turditry of this hideous election. We may not have an answer as to whether we have four more years with the hateful goblin for a while, but we can console ourselves with these pockets of joy. Maybe they will serve as hope for a better future.
The Squad is back and bigger than ever. Progressive rising stars Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib have won their first re-election races. AOC and Omar faced repeated attacks from Trump and faced heavily funded GOP challengers. New to the Squad will be Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush of Ferguson and former Bronx principal Jamaal Bowman, both of whom defeated long-term incumbents in their primaries.
Sarah McBride is to become the first transgender state senator in the US after she won her race in Delaware.
Journalist Dan Rather said some inspiring things: “There is a lot that is broken, deeply broken. But there are millions upon millions of our fellow citizens who wake up each morning, undaunted, ready to do the hard work to help others and make this world a better place. Today, I honour that spirit. As long as I have breath, I will continue to fight for the America I want to live in.”
Mauree Turner makes history as the first Muslim legislator in Oklahoma and first nonbinary state legislator in the US. Mauree is just 27. Their father was incarcerated during some of their childhood so Mauree and their siblings lived on welfare while Mauree’s mother worked up to three jobs. Mauree’s campaign revolved around criminal justice reform and fighting to repair “an industrial prison complex that’s built on revenge and punishment rather than rehabilitation”.
Colorado’s abortion ban Proposition 15 was defeated with a majority no vote.
Stephanie Byers is the first trans Native American to win office. Also heartening is her statement about the campaign: “I’m incredibly grateful being a transgender woman running for office with the fact that my opponent made a point of saying she was not going to make that an issue, and she ran an incredibly clean campaign.”
Florida voters approved Amendment 2, gradually boosting the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is a wage increase for 2.5 million workers in Florida from $8.56.
Mississippi had a super gross flag with the confederate loser cross on it and they voted to bin it and now they have a pretty flag with a magnolia on it.
Voters in Rhode Island changed the state’s official name – which was the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The ballot question to remove “and Providence Plantations” passed with nearly 53% of the vote.
A former Ohio sheriff’s major said she was fired because she’s a lesbian. Now she’s the new sheriff! Charmaine McGuffey is the first woman to be elected sheriff in Hamilton County, Ohio. She decided to run against the sheriff who fired her – and she beat him! Boom!
Oregon voted to decriminalise all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, and to legalise medicinal psychedelics to treat mental illnesses! Measure 109 allows magic mushies to be used to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction. Measure 110 decriminalises all drugs so addiction becomes a public health issue instead of a criminal issue. If you manufacture or distribute hard drugs you’ll face criminal punishment, but if you’re caught with a small amount for personal use you’ll just pay a US$100 fine or have a health check. It’s not legal as such – residents won’t be allowed to buy meth at dispensaries, but they won’t be arrested for possessing it for personal use. Morgan Sung explains: “Instead of getting an OK from a doctor, buying products at a licensed dispensary, and using them at home, anyone with a medical shrooms card will buy and consume products at a ‘psilocybin service center’. There, a trained facilitator will walk them through their trips. The Oregon Health Authority would regulate medical psilocybin, and is yet to determine which medical conditions qualify for a prescription.”
It was a good day for mushies, with Washington, D.C. also voting to decriminalise psychedelics.
Arizona voted to legalise recreational marijuana. This could be us but you playin’. “Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2011, but this year under the Smart and Safe Arizona Act adults 21 and older will be allowed to possess as much as one ounce of recreational marijuana. Roughly 130 already existing medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell marijuana, with a 16% tax on any recreational sales. The Smart and Safe Arizona Act also addresses social equity concerns, and will offer 26 recreational retail licences to ‘people historically disadvantaged by marijuana laws,’ AZ Central reports. “Certain marijuana-related convictions for crimes that are no longer illegal under the new act will be dismissed as well, following an ongoing trend of cities and states attempting to undo the harm the war on drugs had on marginalized communities” – Morgan Sung of Mashable.
Mississippi voted to legalise medical marijuana, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis to treat 22 approved medical conditions. Montana voted to legalise, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana for people over 21. New Jersey voted to legalise recreational marijuana. South Dakota voted to legalise both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, making it the first state in American history to legalise both in the same election.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.