This report by the Political Action Commission was presented to the National Board on October 7, 2020.
It is now 27 days until November 3. I’ve been asked to give a brief information update on the work of our Party, which can serve as the basis for sharing experiences and ideas to sharpen our work even more. Each day presents us with a new crisis, more chaos, and more challenges to the democratic process.
Yet, at the same time, each day in the fight of our lives also brings more phone calls, texts, postcards, street corner waves, car caravans, and now more COVID-safe door knocks and cultural expressions to Dump Trumpism and move forward.
The country is faced with a threatened and planned coup. The best defense is to organize a voter turnout larger than the country has ever seen, even in the midst of a pandemic. That viral image of Bea Lumpkin putting her ballot into the mailbox was a real contribution.
In these abnormal conditions, a massive vote requires massive one-on-one preparation with each comrade, friend, family member, and neighbor to confirm how they are voting, what are the steps required if it is by absentee, how are they returning their ballot, and if they are voting in person, where and when are they voting.
It has to be across the board, including in so-called safe states and of course with special targeting toward the battleground states.
Our approach has been to start in your own club or community and build there, because that is where we can build lasting relationships and keep the movement going for jobs, for relief, for ending police violence, and all other issues. For example, one club is using a tracking sheet to follow each member every step of the way, from filling out the absentee ballot request form to actually voting.
We need to also focus on local and state races where there is a progressive labor person or activist candidate. In Texas, North Carolina, and several other states it is possible to shift the balance of forces in the state legislatures where district lines will be drawn after the census. The battle on the ground in Texas is fierce in the face of voter suppression efforts. What happens in Texas can affect the entire South. In Arizona, Illinois, and California, tax-the-rich referendum questions are on the ballot.
Then, if you are not already in a battleground state, focus on participating with unions and many other groups including the Poor People’s Campaign that are reaching into presidential and senatorial battlegrounds to get out the vote, and possibly make big shifts in the Southern states as well as the Midwest, including flipping the US Senate.
Until this month, most union plans to send teams into the battlegrounds had been shifted to phone calling due to the pandemic. Comrades in many states are participating with their unions in this effort. But this month, tactics shifted, and teams are being sent in to go door to door in a COVID-safe way. For example, from here in Connecticut, the Unite Here Take Back 2020 effort sent small teams to Florida and Arizona, and big teams are now going to Philadelphia, where we campaigned heavily in 2008 for Obama, and where there is a significant union membership.
Already a record-setting 6 million people have voted by absentee ballot. For some states this is new due to the pandemic. In others, like Arizona, which always has a large absentee vote, 90% of the people in the largest county will vote absentee. There is a good chance that Arizona will flip from red to blue. In Florida, so many people were trying to register online before the cutoff date that the system broke down, forcing the deadline to be extended. The polls have Biden-Harris a point ahead of Trump as of now. Ohio is now recognized as a battleground state, as unions organize and seniors shift Democrat.
We are carrying out our own battleground project. With the help of Joe and Stephen, the lists from our websites and events were organized by state. Lists of between 100 and 800 were sent to comrades in 13 states with close senate or presidential numbers, along with a sample script. Most states said they could handle the calls on their own, some are discussing with their leadership. The offer is there for help, which we can organize from comrades in states that are considered safe.
Another special project geared to the Latinx community, is translation of one election article from People’s World each week that is being posted in Mundo Popular, including articles developed by the immigrant rights subcommittee of the Political Action Commission comparing the records of candidates in Arizona and Texas, and also in Michigan where the Arab American community is key.
As well, comrades were asked how they were involved in the elections, as part of the national fund-raising call-a-thon. In Nevada, one comrade who is a Teamster said he is registering people to vote, writes letters from home, and uses the links in the People’s World on voting procedures. He said he is anxious to be part of a club.
The Organization Department is calling every district by region this week to check in on how the election work is going.
There is much more clarity in general, and in our Party, on the stakes of this election since Trump’s performance in the first presidential debate, which exposed so blatantly his racism, his attacks on the voting process, and his move to pack the Supreme Court, laying the ground to stay in office no matter the results. Fascism versus democratic rights is being understood by many of those who were uncertain.
A special project initiated by Party youth and featured on our social media platforms is the #VoteAgainstFascism campaign using selfies on Facebook. The youth in New York are tabling to register voters and hand out literature.
The Education Commission organized a class with Marc Brodine on fascism, which had record registration and attendance.
And the People’s World has been playing a crucial role covering developments that happen so fast it is dizzying. The People’s World has been arising to the occasion as a great and necessary tool for education and organizing with more local writers and an expanding readership. Important articles from rural areas and other places where the fight is especially sharp stand out. One worth mentioning is in Sequim, Washington, where armed Trump thugs steal lawn signs, so the tactic has shifted to street corner waves holding the signs for Biden-Harris and BLM.
The People’s World is also the place to go for practical information. There is a banner on the front page and a link at the end of each election article about how to vote in your state, as well as a link to sign up for the Dump Trump vote pledge.
The Dump Trump vote pledge is another special project headed by Joe Sims, now at 900+ with a goal of 1,000 and more. It is part of the effort to rebuild our consciousness of the significance in taking collective action as a national organization.
Next up is the October 25 “People Have the Power: A Voter Town Hall” hosted by People’s World. Next week the panelists will be announced; they are immersed in the battleground fights and include USW vice president Fred Redmond from Pittsburgh and Montana labor and Democratic leader Sandi Luckye among others.
This event is geared to be a final push for voting at the polls, and preparation to secure the vote and defend the decision and build the ongoing movements. We should think big and invite not only all our members but all those who we are working with in the election and beyond. The goal is 1,000.
The looming question is how to respond to the provocations and chaos that are sure to ensue and that have already begun. Next week the Executive Committee will hold a special meeting to discuss our approach to this situation. There are of course discussions taking place in the labor and people’s organizations and several coalitions forming, including Protect the Results that we are connecting with. Unions and civil rights groups are lining up poll watchers. The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy has prepared an excellent handout for what to do if there is harassment at the polls.
We enter the final 27 days with Trump and his cabal sick with COVID, and with Biden-Harris ahead, and many Republican Senate seats poised to flip Democrat. Many more new candidates of color coming out of mass movements will expand the squad in the House and be in position to respond to the movements for Medicare for All, Green New Deal, Pro Act, Breathe Act, and other far-reaching legislation.
Big working-class fights are also part of these 27 days to enact the updated Heroes Act and provide much-needed relief in the pandemic, to stop Trump and the Republicans from stacking the Supreme Court by filling RBG’s seat before a new president is installed. The National Women’s March is hosting actions across the country on Saturday, October 17, on the one-month anniversary of RBG’s passing.
During these 27 days workers are in motion demanding PPE and safety on the job, the movement for Black Lives is in motion demanding justice for all those killed by police, retirees are in motion demanding that Social Security be preserved and expanded, and immigrant rights activists are in motion demanding an end to deaths at the border.
This election struggle is like no other. We are called upon to respond with everything we have to give. Every comrade can find a way to make a contribution. We fight to protect our democratic rights over fascism, we fight to protect the rights of all working people to struggle for a better life against corporate dictatorship. We fight to be in position to transform our country in the ongoing freedom struggle.
Appreciation goes to the consistent work of the Political Action Commission bringing assessments and proposals to the National Committee and National Board and then taking direction from those bodies to move forward.