In the heat of the moment, our attention has often been drawn to the cast of scoundrels, traitors and cowards who dominated the centers of power this year. However, 2017 will probably be remembered more for the unlikely and often surprising people who became heroes by resisting those scoundrels. It may not seem like it now, but 2017 was a year rich in heroes.
There isn’t room to celebrate all the people who moved our country in a more hopeful direction in 2017, but here are a few of them.
This is so consistently true it should be treated as a national rule – behind most prominent developments in American life there is a black person whose originating efforts are forgotten. Twenty years ago, Tarana Burke lit the flame that would become the #MeToo movement.
In 1997, Burke committed her life to supporting survivors of sexual abuse. This October, in response to the publication of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Burke’s friend Allyssa Milano retweeted Burke’s “#MeToo” idea and a two-decade long overnight success story was born. The resistance has been defined by women’s refusal to remain silent, and the #MeToo movement has been the cornerstone of that defiance.
As a vulnerable 14-year-old, Corfman was molested by a local Alabama District Attorney, an experience she kept quiet out of fear and intimidation. Forty years later, she ended that man’s reign of abuse by finding the courage to speak out. Corfman and three other women shared their stories with reporters from the Washington Post. As the youngest of Moore’s known targets, her story became the anchor of the case against him. Thanks to brave stands by Corfman and others against bigots, powerful politicians, and venal religious hypocrites, Alabama has its first Democratic Senator since the Dixiecrats switched parties. The entire country owes her and her fellow survivors a debt of gratitude.
First, attack your enemy’s revenue stream. In 2017, Shannon Coulter’s #GrabYourWallet campaign was a dead-simple, lethally effective tool for social organizing. By publishing a list of retailers doing business with the Trump family, Coulter gave ordinary people a simple, daily guide to changing America. Her movement had a twin, the anonymous ‘Sleeping Giants’ project which sought to make consumers and retailers aware of businesses that supported Brietbart. That project has cost the site well over eight figures, while also devastating the credibility it had carefully achieved. This is how revolutions probably work in the age of social media.
NFL Quarterback Colin Kaeperick’s season started with him losing his job for refusing to abandon his protest against police violence. As the season comes to an end, he may be part of an ownership group buying the Carolina Panthers.
Current Panthers owner and creepy old cracker, Jerry Richardson, announced plans to step down and sell the team after his settlements of sexual and racial harassment claims went public. Sean ‘PDiddy’ Combs is trying to assemble a purchase with a group of multi-millionaire black athletes, including Stephen Curry and Kaepernick. If we’re lucky, next year Carolina might play home to the NFL’s Black Panthers.
Moore was on last year’s Political Orphans list of people to watch. As one of the few major evangelical leaders who didn’t sell his soul to the Trumpists, he’s had a tough, but successful year. I won’t repeat here the more detailed writeup I did a week ago. Suffice to say, Russell Moore is shaping up to be America’s answer to Germany’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
What has Robert Mueller done in 2017? No one really knows, which is an incredible accomplishment for the highest profile investigation in our history. A couple of indictments and guilty pleas have marked the Special Council’s progress and left powerful Trump officials rattling with rage, but the rest of the team’s activities have remained carefully secret. Their ruthless professionalism has been one of the most promising developments of the year.
The activists behind the Indivisible movement
Success is the greatest revenge. A group of Democratic activists decided to slice through their stunned horror at Trump’s victory to assemble an effective resistance organization. Just weeks after the election, Ezra Levin, Jeremy Haile, Leah Greenberg, and Angel Padilla had produced a handy, sharable guide to the resistance that took off like wildfire. They borrowed and adapted tactics from the Tea Party Movement to fit a progressive agenda, then began assembling an infrastructure around it.
They became a powerful grassroots force in the Virginia election, helping to turn an otherwise blah off-year affair into an historic Democratic rout. They poured resources into the Alabama Senate race, playing a pivotal role in local turnout. Having made an indelible mark on 2017, they are now turning their attention toward the national elections next year.