The Bright Spots In 2020: Year in Review

16 mins read

We have put 2020 behind us, but let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:


The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

By Lalo Alcaraz

The Colorado legislature rejected several bills that would have weakened gun laws, including one that would have allowed people to bring handguns onto K-12 campuses. 


The Senate impeachment trial ended with all but one Republican voting to acquit Trump, but not before an incredible amount of activism on the part of voters.

By Christopher Weyant

A federal judge permanently blocked a Trump administration policy that made it harder for aspiring Americans to stay in the United States if their immigration status changed.

The House of Representatives voted to eliminate the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs SB 5 into law. The legislation allows “law enforcement officers to petition a court for temporary removal of a firearm when there is evidence someone poses an extreme risk to self or others.”


While the federal government kept downplaying the growing pandemic, governors stepped up in a big way, at least in some states. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gov. Jay Inslee (WA), and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (MI) were early leaders.

At a time when Trump was spewing falsehoods and fantasies about COVID (remember he said it’d all be gone by Easter?), it was Dr. Anthony Fauci who kept telling the American people to take things much more seriously. Somehow, he was able to tell us what we needed without getting fired by Trump.

By Mike Luckovich

The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action celebrated the “defeat of dangerous, gun-lobby-backed legislation that would have forced colleges in West Virginia to allow people to carry loaded handguns on campus and allowed more people to bring hidden, loaded guns on the grounds of K-12 schools.” 

The House and the Senate passed the CARES Act, and on March 27, it was signed into law, giving the country much-needed economic relief.


The Democratic nomination process ended when Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. With such a huge field of potential contenders, most Democratic voters likely felt disappointed at some point, but it was amazing to see just how quickly voters banded together to support Joe Biden’s candidacy. We all saw just how damaging another four years of Trump would be.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee established the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several gun safety bills, including legislation to require background checks on all gun sales and extreme risk legislation.

Virginia, which became fully a blue state after the 2019 elections, passed a bunch of laws to expand voting rights in the state, including making Election Day a holiday, repealing the Voter ID law, adopting Automatic Voter Registration, and more.

Another bright spot was the emergence of Sarah Cooper’s Tik Tok videos impersonating Trump. Here’s the first one that I saw, “How To Medical,” which she made after his disastrous COVID press conference. You know, the one where he suggested injecting disinfectant might be a good idea.

Sarah Cooper


The killing of George Floyd by a policeman was yet another gut-wrenching moment for our nation. But it unleashed a torrent of activism and increased interest in helping the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the next several months, many laws and regulations were passed in cities and states across the county to ban chokeholds and tear gas, increase the use of body cameras, reduce police presence in schools, and more.

By Mike Luckovich

A federal judge ordered ICE to release hundreds of detained aspiring Americans from three Florida detention centers, citing that ICE was violating their Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.

Many states increased access to voting due to the pandemic. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that would send a mail-in ballot to every voter, Kentucky funded free postage for absentee ballots, and Missouri eliminated the need for absentee ballots to be witnessed by a notary. The ACLU was a key organization pushing for these changes and noted their accomplishments here.

The House passed the HEROES Act to provide a second wave of economic relief to American families and to provide extra funding to states to run the 2020 elections. Yes, the bill was never taken up by the Republican Senate, but we elected the Democratic House, so this was a win for us.

Justin Amash dropped out of the presidential race, erasing any concern about a third-party spoiler.


There were three huge decisions from the Supreme Court: 1) They ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars employers from firing employees over their gender identity or sexual orientation, 2) they blocked the administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and 3) they declined to hear a case challenging the legality of sanctuary city policies, which left those policies in place.

Tik Tok-ers and K-Pop fans took credit for scooping up a vast number of tickets for Trump’s much-hyped rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which ultimately had abysmal turnout. This failure also marked the beginning of the end of Brad Parscale’s tenure as Trump’s campaign manager.

By Bill Bramhall

A federal judge struck down a permit to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline in a legal victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The U.S. Embassy in South Korea displayed a huge banner to show their support for Black Lives Matter.

After a disastrous primary in Georgia, where too many Black voters had to stand in impossibly long lines to vote, the Atlanta Hawks arranged to have their arena used as a massive early voting site and also trained hundreds of arena staff to be volunteer poll workers.


Losing civil rights icon John Lewis was tough, but his lifelong pursuit of voting rights renewed energy around the country for a new Voting Rights Act. On July 27, H.R. 4 was renamed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020.

After facing enormous pushback from the public, the Trump administration backed down from its attempt to bar international college students from remaining in the U.S. if they enroll exclusively in online/remote courses.

By Pat Bagley

NASA renamed its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., after Mary W. Jackson, their first Black female engineer.

Arizona took down a monument to Confederate troops in the state capitol.

The Supreme Court decided NOT to take on ten petitions asking the court to review Second Amendment challenges to city and state gun safety laws.


In a historic pick, Joe Biden chooses Sen. Kamala Harris to be his vice president.

Throughout their sequestered basketball season, both NBA and WNBA stars shed the tradition of staying away from the topic of politics on the court and continually brought attention to the injustice of Breonna Taylor’s killing.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a suit to dissolve the NRA.

Bill Bramhall


In a sign of the building awareness and acknowledgement of systemic racism, the Senate passed a bill to remove Confederate names from military bases.

A federal judge issued a restraining order blocking unidentifiable federal troops from dispersing, arresting, threatening, or using force against journalists or legal observers at the ongoing Black Lives Matters protests in Portland, Oregon.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the Uniform Parentage Act into law, ensuring that LGBTQ parents, unmarried parents, and those who use assistive reproductive technology or surrogacy can establish legal parentage of their kids at birth.

National Voter Registration Day 2020 was a great success, with 1.5 million new or updated registrations! This is particularly impressive considering that COVID severely curtailed the in-person events that are normally part of this annual event.

By Ann Telnaes


Moms Demand Action announce that their volunteers registered over 100,000 voters, phoned more than 800,000 voters, and texted more than 3.2 million voters ahead of the November elections.

Two separate federal courts blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to exclude aspiring Americans from the census.

The U.S. Postal Service agreed to reverse changes that slowed mail service nationwide, settling a lawsuit filed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

The Navy made the decision to christen a new supercarrier the USS Doris Miller. When finished, it will be the first supercarrier to be named for an enlisted sailor and the first to be named after a Black servicemember.

By Kevin Necessary


The moment we had been waiting for arrived — the election! We had to wait as ballots were counted but in the end, we got the news we were waiting for: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won! Over 159.8 million Americans voted, which was the highest ever. Plus …

✦ The Democrats successfully defended the U.S. House.
✦ Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan all turned blue!
✦ Wisconsin voters prevented the GOP in the state legislature from gaining veto-proof majorities.
✦ Michigan flipped their state Supreme Court.
✦ California passed Prop 17, which ended felony disenfranchisement and restored voting rights.
✦ Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush won the election to Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, making her the state’s first Black congresswoman.
✦ A record number of LGBTQ candidates ran for office, and 334 of the 782 candidates won their November races.
✦ Many candidates who were running for sheriff on an anti-ICE platform won their races, according to Daniel Nichanian.
✦ Sarah McBride won her race in Delaware to become the first transgender state senator in the country.
✦ Mauree Turner won her election for state House in Oklahoma’s 88th district, making history as the first Muslim person elected to the state’s legislature.

By Matt Wuerker

Also, Alaska’s controversial Pebble Mine failed to win a critical permit thanks to the tireless work of activists.


The COVID vaccine arrives! The FDA approved Pfizer vaccine for emergency use, and by the end of the month, healthcare workers were starting to receive the desperately needed immunization.

By Kevin Siers

On December 14, the Electoral College met and, without drama, voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next president and vice president of the United States.

By the end of the month, Trump was 1-59 in his court cases attempting to overturn the will of the voters.

New York signs Automatic Voter Registration into law.

The United States Olympic Committee pledged not to sanction athletes who choose to kneel or raise a fist for racial justice while on the medal stand.

ActBlue announces that the platform raised $4.8 billion for liberal candidates and causes!

Thank you all for reading Political Charge. I am so grateful for this community of readers and doers!

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Originally posted on Political Charge. Reposted with minor edits permission.

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