As the saying goes, this was and is no ordinary election, or ordinary time. It is complex and contradictory. It will take a while to digest all the unfolding results and develop conclusions. The electoral defeat of Trump with all his deadly hate, division, and greed opens the door to a new period of struggle. Yet, Trump got many votes, and the Senate is divided at best.
An even stronger, more expansive and united mobilization from the grassroots up must demand the new administration overturn the policies and respond to the survival needs that propelled millions of people to vote.
I will always remember the spontaneous celebrations of joy and relief in the streets across the country when it was announced that Biden reached 270. The dancing and tears came out of the passionate work going on for months against all odds in the middle of a pandemic, overcoming voter suppression and disinformation in Black, Latinx, Native, and Asian Pacific communities to speak with people about the stakes for their lives and the need for their vote, helping with absentee ballots or rides to the polls. It reflected deep pride in electing the first Black and South Asian woman as Vice President, Kamala Harris, daughter of immigrants. “WE did this” was the refrain. The vote was a collective expression of working-class power. And an important experience for bringing forward new working-class leaders.
As different organizations release the number of calls, texts, door knocks, and postcards they made, it gives a deeper understanding of what it took to get the largest turnout in a century and the largest ever vote for president, for the Biden-Harris ticket. Besides the following groups, several more made important efforts.The leadership of Black women, the turnout of youth and Latinx voters, of Native and Asian Pacific Island voters, and union members made the difference. This extraordinary effort of labor and people’s organizations is the victory. It offers a model for year-round grass roots organizing, coalition building, and winning a labor and people’s agenda.
A mention about Unite Here, which probably had the most extensive ground game in the country. They took the horrible situation of 85% of their hotel and casino members being unemployed due to the pandemic, largely Black and Latinx women, and turned disaster into a powerhouse of campaign workers that helped win Philly/ PA, Nevada, and Arizona.This is just one union of the many, including steel and auto and postal workers and teachers and healthcare workers and communication workers and so many more that went all in and helped Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada flip blue. Except for Clinton in 1996, the last time Arizona voted Democrat for president was 1952. Detroit union members report that their work helped Biden-Harris get more than 230,000 votes in Detroit compared to 12,000 for Trump-Pence. Remember, Trump threatened to deny voting rights to Detroit voters and also Black voters in Philly and Atlanta with false claims of fraud! Black voters turned out in overwhelming numbers to vote for Biden-Harris and flipped Georgia blue.
The rising tide of struggle and new unity between unions, Black Lives Matter, people of color, youth, women, and LGBTQ people is the hope to win new struggles going forward.
Right now the utmost vigilance is required during the electoral college process and to inauguration. Trump has been refusing to concede, he is blocking the normal transition process, he is consolidating his control of military leadership, and he is continuing with court cases and recounts and MAGA rallies.
Public expressions are needed to uphold the results, especially at the time of the electoral college certification on December 14 in states with Republican legislators and in Congress on January 6.
Today 1,000 judges came out against the false claims of voter fraud charging that Trump is failing his constitutional duties.
The People’s World has been covering this danger of a coup and sounding the alarm, as they have been provided outstanding coverage through the election.
The eye of the storm is now in Georgia where both Senate seats have a runoff on January 5 that will determine control of the Senate. Stacey Abrams has tirelessly helped build a voter rights movement in Georgia that is leading this effort. The South is rising, including in Texas, and the white supremacist Southern Strategy days are numbered.
2. Balance of forces
Even with the enormous organizing and turnout to defeat Trump, still the number of votes that Trump got shows the tremendous amount of work to be done. The Trump cabal is giving rise to a dangerous fascist-tinged white supremacist movement. Like the emergence of similar political movements throughout the capitalist world, it is a product of the general crisis of the capitalist system, which is failing not only politically but also economically and environmentally, along with systemic racism, rising inequalities and never-ending wars.
The Board and the Political Action Commission have had some discussions since election day to drill down on voting and thought patterns and examine how to raise class consciousness where white working people vote against their own interests. Persistent deep poverty conditions facing rural communities and small towns in the post-industrial Midwest have left people vulnerable to right-wing demagogy and conspiracy theories.
Comrades from Minnesota and Ohio talk of voters trending Republican in areas where union jobs are gone and the only messages left are from right-wing media. In Ohio comrades scattered in such communities around the state are being brought together. Tim Wheeler shares a fightback example from rural Clallam County in Washington state where gun-wielding thugs with Trump flags were unable to intimidate Black Lives Matter. The community organized, and in the election, Biden-Harris won the district.
Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign said, “Yes, division is real. But Americans are incredibly united in an understanding that our system is not working for most of us. Despite deep political divisions, fighting poverty is a struggle that unites most Americans.” The Poor People’s Campaign reached out to 3 million people living in poverty in 15 states during this election and helped increase the turnout to defeat Trump.
The Board also singled out for examination how to more effectively challenge poisonous influences of racism and white supremacy and misogyny that have been dangerously emboldened under four years of Trump.
Yesterday AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said that overall, union voters went for Biden-Harris by 58%, an increase over 53% for Clinton in 2016. It will be helpful to get a breakdown of that vote with the understanding that union members of color voted in higher percentages for Biden-Harris and in fact led the way. This underscores the significance of the AFL-CIO Racial Justice Taskforce formed in July and chaired by Fred Redmond.
The Board also raised for study the use of red-baiting and anti-socialist, anti-communist rhetoric. The Trump campaign made this a cornerstone along with racism, typified by those scary and false TV ads that showed cities burning and blaming Black Lives Matter and the Democrats and socialists for calls to de-fund the police.
In Senate and House candidate debates leading up to the election, Republican candidates, to avoid answering questions about why they didn’t support the HEROES Act or expand healthcare during COVID, resorted to labeling their Democratic opponents “socialist.”
When Sen. Purdue did that to Jon Osoff in the Georgia debate, Osoff refused to get detracted and came back at Purdue about his lack of delivery for the people of Georgia. Purdue failed to get 50% of the vote, triggering a runoff election on January 5. Hopefully, Osoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, also in a runoff for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, will win. This would end Republican control.
Trump attempted to split the Latino vote with appeals to the anti-communist Cuban and Venezuelan community in Miami, aided by the national media. Latino voters in our country include many nationality backgrounds. The largest population is Mexican followed by Puerto Rican and Central American. In fact, Latinos in majority, including in Florida, voted overwhelmingly for Biden-Harris. Latinx youth emerged as a large, new progressive voting bloc. Of 32 million eligible voters, 20.7 million voted.
Chuck Rocha of Solidarity Strategies said, “The story of the Latino vote in 2020 isn’t over. We have a lot of data to use in future operations and in efforts to keep pushing Latino turnout up. To take on the disaster in Florida, we need to invest in intentional organizing and outreach by Latino-led firms and organizations. We must build a political infrastructure for the community, by the community.”
It is impossible to fight fascism by using red-baiting; it lets fascism off the hook.
But some conservative Democrats in the House Caucus are blaming the Squad and their advanced agenda of police accountability, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal for the fact that several first-term incumbents from traditionally red districts lost their seats. Such disunity is very dangerous. Rep Rashida Tlaib said, “I can’t be silent. You are saying that the voices of my constituents in Detroit should not be heard.” Sen. Bernie Sanders points out that every one of the 112 incumbents who are co-sponsors of Medicare for All got re-elected. The Squad were all re-elected, and a number of newly elected progressive members of Congress will now join them.
Experiences in the labor movement including election to office show that the issue of anti-communism is being shed.
Especially with the Senate either in Republican hands or split, no progress can be made without continued massive pressure for the immediate and longer-term needs of the people.
While Trump received a large vote, it is also true that overwhelming majorities in the country support most progressive issues.
Florida went for Trump in part due to outrageous voter suppression. However, the voters of Florida, a right-to-work state, also voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This contradiction shows possibilities for moving forward. Bernie Sanders urges that the $15 minimum wage be a big part of the Senate run-off campaign in Georgia.
While not all progressive ballot measures passed, across the country many measures did, including in Arizona taxing the rich to fund public education, measures to expand voting rights, housing and tenants’ rights, immigrant rights, and police accountability. In New Haven 71% voted on the non-binding referendum to shift money from the military to cities for human needs, jobs, and a sustainable environment Of those, 82.8% voted yes. We hope this can be the catalyst for other cities to create momentum nationally.At the state level, it was a big priority to flip Republican-controlled legislatures blue in time for redistricting. This goal failed. One reason it was hard to accomplish is the existence of undemocratic gerrymandered districts drawn by previous Republican-controlled legislatures. It takes years of strategic grassroots organizing to flip a legislature.
The election laws in our country need an overhaul. We are working on a program for that, and also an approach to run Communist candidates.
In 2018 there were scores of firsts, with women and people of color being elected at every level. We are still learning about the victories that broke barriers in this cycle, but a few are listed here. Cori Bush, the first African American woman from Missouri and the first Black Lives Matter leader, will go to Congress along with a group of other exciting new Congress people.There are wonderful firsts at the state, county, and municipal levels, including Ella Jones, the first Black and first woman mayor of Ferguson, MO; Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, the first indigenous woman Pima County Recorder in Arizona; and Daniella Levine Cava, the first woman mayor of Miami-Dade, Florida, who won with a big margin despite an intensive red-baiting campaign against her. In Maine Chloe Maxmin defeated the Republican State Senate president in a district carried by Susan Collins. Maxmin supports the Green New Deal and other progressive measures. It shows the possibility to organize pressure on Collins even though she didn’t go down to defeat.
The uprising for Black Lives and the voter upsurge have mobilized millions of people in defense of democratic rights. The right to food and shelter and education are basic democratic rights being blocked by Mitch McConnell and the Republican-controlled Senate.
As the pandemic rages, 25 million people have suffered loss of income, and a significant number are in danger of losing all support, insurance, and rent moratorium protections which all expiring in the next month. The situation is extreme for the immigrant community, which has received no relief throughout.
The Poor People’s Campaign is organizing Moral Monday mass nationwide caravans on November 23 with a call-to-action for COVID relief, calling for Trump to stop delaying transition and immediate policy mandates.
Similar actions can be organized by unions and others everywhere. Getting a stimulus package for COVID relief is key from here.
As Communists we are called upon to organize as we never have before, during and after the elections.
The fight for the Senate races in Georgia is the fight for massive funding of food, shelter, and jobs and for cities and states. The fight for the Senate races in Georgia is the fight for a $15 minimum wage and the right to a union, the fight for the George Floyd Police Accountability Act and all the bills that have been lying on Mitch McConnell’s desk as people suffer.
During the election struggle this year the question was asked, how does the election fit into revolution? The election struggle is an important tool in the class struggle. It is about increasing the organized political power of the working class and training new leaders and fighters.
The brutality of capitalism demands a new system, and many people are seeing this now as COVID-19 exposes the inherent war economy, racism, and greed.
More and more people are being attracted to join the Communist Party. They want the chance for a decent life and a sustainable planet. They want a path to socialism. In this year 1,900 people joined the Communist Party online.
Building our clubs is a number one immediate task so that new members have a home and so that the Party collectively can make a contribution at the grassroots level in the day-to-day lives of its community.
At our June National Committee meeting we adopted a plan of work which has grown and developed over the months.
We have placed the People’s World at the center. The readership has exploded to 3 million. Congratulations are in order to the staff and to the whole Party. We developed special materials to address questions raised by new members. We utilized social media and had several Marxist Classes, including one on the struggle against the danger of fascism. We emphasized local organizing with the goal to involve every member.
We related the election to the issues of COVID unemployment and the uprising for Black Lives. The YCL sprang to life in New York and other places. We made phone calls to those on our national lists who live in the battleground states. We held a wonderful voter town hall meeting with a diverse group of prominent union and community leaders. And we hosted an election night watch party.
In November the number of people joining online each day has doubled. Keep in mind that all of this was done in the midst of the pandemic and adjusting to new ways of working and relating.
Our challenge going forward is to strengthen our structure to be in position to welcome many more new members. Building our clubs at the local level is a top priority, both existing clubs, and establishing new clubs in areas where those who joined recently live. I am sure the National Committee will come up with a host of wonderful ideas and ways to implement them.
We have a tough fight ahead, but we should have pride in our work and confidence in our ability and the ability of the labor and people’s movement to arise to the occasion in this new period of struggle.
Report presented to the National Committee by Joelle Fishman, Chair of the Political Action Commission, Nov. 14, 2020.
Source: Communist Party USA – 2020 election: Unity leads to victory