It’s been nearly two weeks since the 2018 midterm elections, and the results have now crystallized into a significant defeat for the right. But they also show that our country continues to be deeply divided: in many places and in some key races the Trump agenda was thoroughly rebuked; in other ways, the right was able to mobilize and consolidate their hold on power.
In the Northwest, social justice movements won some big victories but also faced some difficult setbacks. The victories happened because of grassroots organizing: from the defeat of an anti-immigrant measure in Oregon, to the passage of the police accountability initiative in Washington, our grantees helped create a more just society for all this election season.
Nationally, we have a hard road ahead. Democratic control of the House opens new strategic possibilities, but we’ll only make good on that promise through the pressure and organizing of grassroots movements. From small towns in the Northwest all the way up to the federal government, SJF and our grantees will continue to play a vital role in moving the needle towards justicep
Here are some of the battles SJF grantees were involved in as part of the 2018 elections:
In Oregon, grantees were part of a huge step forward as Portland overwhelming passed a clean energy initiative. On the other side, they were also part of defeating a number of right-wing, statewide initiatives, including Measure 105 which would have been a green light for racial profiling of immigrants, and Measure 106, which would have banned public funding for abortion care. Grantees like OPAL Environmental Justice, PCUN, Unite Oregon, VOZ, Rural Organizing Project, and Causa were part of these successful campaigns.
In Washington, many SJF grantees were part of a broad coalition that ran an inspired grassroots campaign for groundbreaking climate policy (Initiative 1631). We share the disappointment of many that it was defeated due to overwhelming corporate spending and ugly, misleading advertising. Through the coalition Front and Centered, grantees like Got Green, Puget Sound Sage, Community to Community, Na’ah Illahee Fund, and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition achieved success by forming a cohesive coalition, training new leaders, and building a broad base for struggles ahead.
In Montana, grantees like Montana Woman Vote (through the coalition Transvisible Montana) prevented an anti trans bathroom bill from making it to the ballot in because it couldn’t get enough signatures. Meanwhile, Native voters came out in record numbers in Montana, with grantee Western Native Voice taking a lead on GOTV efforts.
In Idaho, past grantee Idaho Community Action Network was part of the Reclaim Idaho campaign that was successful in overwhelmingly passing an initiative to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
In Wyoming, the Executive Director of grantee Wyoming Equality won a seat in the state legislature by a mere 70 votes – running on a progressive platform in a deeply red state.
From celebrating our 40th Anniversary, to expanding our Portland office (now up to three staff!), to running some of our biggest Giving Projects ever, 2018 has been a banner year for SJF. We’re proud the successes we’ve had – and those of our grantees – but we’re also building the strength and resources we’ll need for more difficult political challenges ahead. We thank you for your ongoing support and look forward to standing together in the work to come.