2020 B.C.: Before Covid
It really was only twelve months ago that progressives started 2020 with the confidence that 2020 was going to be “our year.” With two progressive candidates dominating the primary field and growing support for our movement nationwide, this was going to be the year we changed everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic became the primary story of 2020 throughout the world and here in New Jersey. The scale of the crisis is staggering.
New Jersey is quickly closing in on 470K total cases, a number that is sure to pass half-a-million by the one-year anniversary of the initial shut-downs. The economic fall-out in New Jersey includes 1.8M Unemployment Claims disproportionately impacting low-wage workers with 12-17% of NJ Households reporting food insecurity. Nearly one-third of all small businesses in NJ have closed their doors since January.
As we hobble into 2021, cases continue to spike in the second wave, but fatalities are mercifully lower than they were in the spring. Vaccination is now available to the most high-risk groups on a priority basis and will hopefully be available to all of us in the first half of the year.
Please remember that none of us our powerless in this situation, and each of us has an important role to play in beating this thing, including doing the following three things:
- Wear a Mask! Continue to adhere to social-distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing. It made a huge impact over the summer and will have a similar impact now.
- Get Vaccinated. And address any personal concerns you may have with your medical professional. Not randos on the internet.
- Help the Helpers! Your neighbors need you. Donate, donate and donate some more to local organizations doing the work on the ground to help impacted people, and volunteer if you feel safe doing so. Force the Issue NJ collected some of these organizations here, and NJ Advance Media has a bunch more here.
Despite the Pandemic We Continued the Fight
Though all sense of time has been warped by the year-long lock-down, we should not forget that grassroots organizers and activists achieved hard-fought triumphs of 2020. For example:
- New Jersey had the largest general election turn-out in the state’s history. 76% of NJ registered voters participated in November’s election. This record-shattering turn-out provided a strong win for the Biden/Harris ticket, supported the re-election of 10 out of 12 House seats for the Democrats, and resulted in a statewide landslide for marijuana legalization – a major progressive policy achievement we can all be proud of!
- Black Lives Matter had a major impact in the Garden State. The #BLM movement is the largest political movement in U.S. history. BLM activists and organizers have achieved numerous reforms to our state’s criminal justice system, including:Public Health Emergency Credit – Releasing thousands of low-risk inmates from incarceration.
New Use of Force Policy – Narrows the definition of appropriate use of force, including training, monitoring and a duty of officers to intervene if the policy is violated.
- New Jersey passed a Millionaire’s Tax. As part of the budget deal, Governor Murphy kept a key promise of his 2017 campaign: to increase taxes on income over $1 million. The deal is expected to raise $400M in additional revenue and will direct some of those funds to a $500 tax rebate for low-and-middle income earners.
These accomplishments are just the start of turning progressive goals into policy reality, thanks to the work of dedicated activists and organizations. There is still much work to be done in 2021 and beyond on fair elections, racial justice, income inequality, immigration, environment, and other key issues in the Garden State.
FTINJ 2020 Accomplishments
Prior to the pandemic, we were planning for a year of outreach and engagement to build a statewide coalition of activists, organizers, data and tech professionals and content creators to support our mission of developing Platforms for Progress.
2020 took one look at our plans and said “nope.” However, we were extremely proud of the content we created, the audience we grew via our mailing list (now 7K strong!), Twitter and Facebook and the new leadership we recruited – most notably former congressional candidate Hector Oseguera, who joined our Board in August as Director of Outreach and Engagement.
As a member of the Good Government Coalition of New Jersey, we played a major role in launching the BetterBallotsNJ initiative, which has been joined by some of the Garden State’s most prominent progressive organizations, including: Our Revolution – New Jersey; NJ Working Families; New Jersey Policy Perspective; NJ-08 for Progress; and Hudson County Progressive Alliance.
We continued improving the functionality of our Directory of Progressive and Community Organizations and will be rolling out additional improvements in early 2021.
We have some amazing plans for the new year which we will be announcing shortly.
We ask you to join in our fight to create sustainable progressive infrastructure for the Garden State. To maximize your impact, we invite you to:
- Make a donation via ActBlue
- Add a local organization to our Directory
- Add upcoming events to our Community Calendar
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook
- Join our growing team!
We thank each and every one of you for your support, patience, persistence and resilience in the face of so much trauma and turbulence. We wish you and your friends, your families and communities the happiest of New Years.