2019: The Year in Review

Wow! 2019 has been a year FULL of events - planned and, well, not planned.  Here’s a view from Democrats Abroad France of what has been going on...

January

As we entered 2019, the US government was in partial shutdown. Nancy Pelosi reclaimed the gavel as Speaker of the House and a DEMOCRATIC majority House of Representatives was sworn in. In the #bluewave2018, Dems had achieved a commanding majority with 235 seats, as well as, the most diverse House in history!

Democrats Abroad France participated in the 3rd Global Women’s March (Women’s Wave weekend) along with our coalition partners: Page in Paris, Women’s March Paris and Indivisible - France. This year’s theme was "Stop Violence Against Women".

Our Women's Caucus focused on achieving this goal by working to secure “Equality under the law.” They launched a campaign backing the ratification drive for the Equal Rights Amendment. Only one more state was needed (hint: flash forward to November!)

 

February

Once the shutdown showdown had ended, Speaker Pelosi invited the president to give the State of the Union Address to Congress. However, the cooperation between the White House and Congress was short-lived as funding for the border wall came front and center and the president declared a national emergency at the southern border, setting up an enduring battle over funding the wall and, ultimately, created a humanitarian crisis at the border.

March

The U.S. House passed HR 1, the For the People Act, a "clean government" bill that aimed at campaign finance reform, ethics, and voting rights. 

After 2 years of suspense, on March 22, Robert Mueller delivered his report regarding Trump-Russia collusion, only to be followed by weeks of stonewalling by the administration on its release.

Growing outrage regarding the climate emergency facing us all took center stage in 2019. The youth strike for the climate, also known as Fridays for Future, became an international movement of students demanding action to prevent further global warming. The leadership by youth gave added meaning to the 2200 strikes that were organised in 125 countries around the world on March 15. DA The Lyon chapter was on the ground.

 

April

FINALLY, we had the (redacted) 448 pages of the Mueller Report available for reading.

Around the world, people watched in dismay as Notre Dame burned. DA France stood in solidarity with the people of France, honoring the firefighters and police for their efforts to save this extraordinary edifice.

Democrats Abroad held local elections in our twelve chapters around France: Avignon, Bordeaux, Brittany, Grenoble, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Paris, Normandy, Riviera, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.

Photos (left to right, top to bottom): Marseille, Lyon, Paris; Riviera, Grenoble, Toulouse; Normandy, Avignon

Notably, 2019 marked the official launch of the DA France - Paris chapter, with the election of the first Paris-focused leadership team! In addition, leadership for the new Montpellier chapter was voted in. We were delighted to welcome new faces to our chapter leadership.

May

To celebrate Memorial Day, DA France participated in the traditional wreath-laying ceremonies organized by the Veterans and Military Families caucus across France. Paris, Strasbourg, Brittany, Normandy and Toulouse chapters all participated in local events.

Left to right: Paris Chapter, Veterans & Military Family Caucus, Strasbourg Chapter

Left to right: Toulouse Chapter, wreath from DAFrance, Brittany Chapter

 

 

>Top (left to right): Salli Swarz, Alex Rehbinder, Kaitlin Hickey, Joe Smallhoover, Connie Borde. Bottom (left to right): Megan Lopez, Ada Shen, Meredith Wheeler

DA France national leadership elections were held during our Annual General Meeting in May. A dynamic group was elected to the National Executive Committee in accordance with bylaws passed in 2018, bringing in new roles at the national level, such as GOTV, Comms, Database/IT coordinators as well as a Vice Chair responsible for chapter coordination.

 

On May 15, the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban was passed in Alabama as part of a broad-based movement in GOP-controlled states to impose draconian restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. At a time when women’s rights are under attack, these bans provoked strong response from women in the US and around the world. We even had volunteer Kaitlin Hickey (far left) representing DA France at the protest in front of the Supreme Court!

 

 

DA France was well represented at the DPCA Global Meeting in Washington, DC! We were delighted that former DA France Chair Joe Smallhoover joined the Global Executive Committee as International Legal Counsel!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chair Ada Shen, Youth Caucus Co-Chair Alex Rehbinder, and Kaitlin Hickey stayed to participate in the door knock on Capitol Hill!

 

 

 

 

 

June

June 6th marked the 75 anniversary of D-Day. DA France organized a group visit to the event in Normandy. It was a moving experience for DA members. Leaders from around the world were present, including Speaker Pelosi (pictured here with Fred Hoffman, LGBTQ+ Caucus Co-Chair.)

To celebrate Juneteenth, DA France’s Diversity Caucus hosted a guided tour of "Le Modèle Noir" exhibition at the Musée D'Orsay.

   

The DNC’s first Democratic Presidential Debate was held June 26-27 , one of 12 primary debates scheduled for the 2020 presidential election. With 20 candidates (out of 29) qualifying, the debate was held over two evenings.

DA France members joined us to watch the first debate via replay in events hosted by chapters in Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux as well as by the Youth Caucus . DA France hosted Debate Watch events for the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth Democratic debates and will continue to do so throughout 2020. Watch our Events page to see when the chapter nearest to you will host a Debate Watch event!

June is Pride Month!  At Pride Parades in Paris and Lyon, we were there - rain or shine! We are excited that the DA France LGBTQ+ Caucus has been reinvigorated in 2019 with new leadership and renewed interest voiced by members.

  

July

DA France chapters across the country celebrated Independence Day with traditional 4th of July BBQ’s. Here are some DA members taking a pool break in Toulouse!

On July 7th, we had something exceptional to celebrate when the US Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup in Lyon! An important moment for women’s sports! A much-needed break from politics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We paused our summer celebrations, however, when the humanitarian crisis at the southern US border boiled over. We had seen the images and heard the stories coming out of child detention centers. Children denied soap and toothbrushes, crowded into unsafe conditions, separated from their families, subject to cruel treatment. Some dying in custody.

DA France along with DA country committees around the world participated in live or virtual protests themed “Lights For Liberty” to demand that the US government #CloseTheCamps, unite families and treat humanely those immigrants arriving at the southern border, often seeking asylum.

At the end of June, after two years of silence, special counsel Robert Mueller sat for public hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

August

Shootings in Gilroy, CA, El Paso, TX  and Dayton, OH in late July/early August, brought the deadly issue of gun control back to the headlines. In the House, a bi-partisan bill on gun control had been passed six months earlier. The GOP Senate Majority leader’s quote about blocking legislation and being “the grim reaper” took on new meaning and became a rallying cry for House Dems.

September

A la rentrée, DA France held a fundraising event in Paris with our partner Indivisible - France for the opening of the movie, The Brink, a hard-hitting documentary by Alison Klayman that follows Steve Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections. 

In early September, an anonymous whistleblower complaint lodged by a member of the intelligence community said that in a series of events culminating in a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." This started the main theme of the last part of 2019 - Impeachment - as the House announced an impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Sept. 24.

A Global Climate Strike was called for September 27. Around the world, people responded to the call from the world’s youth.  Greta Thurnberg became a well-recognized face and name. Over 6 million people participated in the activist movement.

Starting to look toward the 2020 elections, DA France held a weekend working session for the Chapter leadership in Avignon. Chapter and National leaders from all corners of the hexagon were present.

October

In Athens, Greece, the berceau of democracy, Democrats Abroad held the EMEA Regional meeting. Many of our leaders from DAFrance were present, live or virtually, to work through  our 2020 objectives (WIN blue), priorities (WIN big) and planning (WIN more)!

In another extraordinary moment, Simon Biles won her 21st medal, breaking the record for World Championships medals won by a woman and stunning the world with a Triple-Double on the floor! 

California wild fires brought home the catastrophic effects of global warming. Hundreds of thousands of acres burned, prompting mass evacuations while thousands of homes were destroyed.

On October 17, with great sadness, the nation said goodbye to “our North Star” Representative Elijah Cummings at the age of 68.

November

While not a big election year, in 2019 there were some BIG election wins! Virginia state legislatures (both the Senate and Assembly) were FLIPPED blue, paving the way for Virginia to ratify the ERA and to become the 38th state needed for national ratification of the amendment! We also FLIPPED the Kentucky Governor’s seat and kept the seat blue in Louisiana. Important wins in the lead up to 2020, showing that when Dems vote, Dems win!

Early November, DA France held a National Leadership meeting in Paris where we discussed The Road to 2020: our country committee’s objective (be a big part of #BlueWave2020) and our strategy (achieving SCALE across all of our chapters in France) to achieve it.

Later in the month, impeachment hearings got underway. Several respected career diplomats and government officials testified under oath that the Trump administration conditioned lifting the hold of the military aid to Ukraine on Zelensky publicly announcing investigations into Burisma and Hunter Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton.

Their testimony gave us all reason to give thanks for their courage, integrity and honesty exposing corruption in the face of incredible pressure from the administration.

It wouldn’t be November without Thanksgiving celebrations among the expat community in France...as did the chapters in Bordeaux, Brittany, Grenoble, Normandy and Toulouse.

December

On December 5, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. 

“His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi said. “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

December 6, DA and DA France welcomed Alabama Senator Doug Jones for a successful fundraiser in Paris. We were delighted to have DA Global Chair Julia Bryan join us.  Both Senator Jones and Julia Bryan emphasized the tight races that we are up against in 2020 and the role that voters abroad play as the margin of victory in those races.

As testimony to the importance of the youth movement demanding action to combat the global climate crisis, Greta Thurnberg was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

Americans at home and abroad watched impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. On December 13, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump. December 18, the House of Representatives took two historic votes to impeach the 45th president of the United States on charges of abusing the power of his office and obstructing a congressional probe.

Since January 2019, the House of Representatives has passed over 400 pieces of legislation - 275 of which were bi-partisan - the vast majority of which were blocked by the GOP-controlled Senate. In addition to HR 1: For the People Act, these include bipartisan background checks legislation, the Dream and Promise Act, the Equality Act, the Climate Action Now Act, the Save the Internet Act, the SAFE Act to protect our elections, a strong VAWA Reauthorization, Paycheck Fairness Act, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and much more. In the first year of our Majority, House Democrats have achieved historic progress to deliver on their "For The People" agenda. 

If 2019 was an unprecedented whirlwind of activity, 2020 promises to be even more intense and unpredictable. We are entering the year where the survival of our democracy is at stake. We encourage all of our members, followers and friends to ask themselves what they can do to help Democrats to WIN BLUE in 2020.

From Democrats Abroad France: