by Rev. Dr. Lent C. Carr, II, is the National President, CEO, and Director-counsel Member of the NCVCHR Legal Defense Fund Team. Dr. Carr is also the Leading Investigative Journalist for NCVCHR & Emmaus Corp. Embassy Enterprise Group LLC
NCVCHR'S Special Election update: We must be fully engaged.
This is not an ordinary election. Our response and involvement can’t be ordinary either.
This election is about strengthening and advancing the movements demanding equal rights and solidarity in a time of calculated onslaught. This election is about realizing the voices of the young people marching for Black lives and calling urgently on everyone to vote. The voices of the postal workers, the nurses, the school workers and parents, faith leaders, and retirees all marching, and in car caravans, and on the phones to get out the vote in a COVID safe way.
As a working-class party, not only can we not sit out this election, but we are called upon to be immersed in the organizing to get out a massive vote not only for president but for the battleground Senate races and scores of local races where a new wave of left and progressive women and people of color and union members are in the field like Cori Bush in MO and Jamaal Bowman in NY. This is not separate and apart from the socialist project; it is very much a part of advancing conditions and consciousness and capacity in the working-class struggle.
It would be foolhardy to assume that this election is in the bag.
First of all, Trump continues to masquerade as the answer for working people, and some are still taken in. Labor and other left and progressive forces can most effectively expose this lie. The reality of a Republican-controlled Senate is that the $3 trillion HEROES Act, passed by the House in May, has been blocked along with all the relief for the unemployed, for cities and states, for the post office, for small business, and for public education.
The reality of Trump policies are destruction of democratic institutions including the post office, Social Security, public education, health care, unions, voting rights; mixed in with upholding white supremacist police killings of Black people, QAnon conspiracy theories leading to deadly violence; mixed in with the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands from COVID-19.
In a time of chaos, things can go either way. The way toward fascism would be a horrible stifling of the working-class movement that is not so easy to overcome. That’s the meaning of the call to action to vote as if your life depends upon it, because it does.
The larger the vote, the stronger the leverage of the labor and people’s movements post-election to continue marching and organizing to win the right to organize a union (the Pro Act), the green new deal with millions of new jobs, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the Breathe Act, and Medicare for All, among others.
But there is another reason for helping to bring out the largest vote in history. That is the best way to overcome all the voter suppression tactics, the dirty tricks, huge expenditures of dark money, bullying at the polls, and the possibility for Trump to deny the election results — a threat that was clearly on display at the Republican National Convention.
The Biden-Harris ticket has been embraced now by most progressive organizations, organizations representing all the diversity of the working class, faith based: embraced on the grounds that it will not be possible to move forward for progressive change with four more years of Trump, and that the movements for social justice must continue after elections. The Biden-Harris ticket has also been embraced by a growing number of Republicans who fear what Trump is doing to their party. Labor Day is here. The clock is ticking.
This election campaign is a fight for democracy v. fascism. As well, it is a fight for the HEROES Act, for $600 unemployment, a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and shutoffs, a fight for food and testing, a fight for police accountability and an end to killings of Black people and people of color.
The NCVCHR'S Organization Department and Political Action Commission memo to satalite districts and clubs updates the work plan adopted by the National Committee in June. Calls are being made to talk out how work can best be carried out.
The Baltimore Club replied that they found the article “People Power — At the Ballot Box and Beyond” helpful in their club meeting. Members are calling to battleground states and outreaching to the local labor movement.
New resources are available since then at nationalcongressional.org, including one article on the youth vote and two articles by Joe Sims, plus a constant stream of valuable articles available daily at peoplesworld.org.
Districts and clubs can prioritize three levels of work for involvement: 1) What can be done by clubs and members where they are at, where they live? 2) What about state races and ballot referenda? 3) What about working in the battlegrounds for the U.S. Senate and president?
1) Working in club areas and with individual members Given the unusual situation with COVID-19, much of the organizing by unions and others has been shifted online. But in some places there is careful door knocking, leaving a flier at the door and then stepping back 10 feet with mask protection.
Each state is different. Many states are sending out absentee ballots or absentee ballot applications by mail that have to be returned, often at specially designated drop boxes in front of city halls. Most states will also have the option to vote in person, but the number of polling locations may be drastically reduced. Many states have online voter registration, some do not. Number one is making sure that every one of our members and through them their family and friends understand the voting process and the importance of voting as early as possible. This may take spending time on an individual basis to figure out any barriers. Can members have a goal to bring 10 people out to vote? In some states like New York, there are locations even during the pandemic where tabling can be done with our literature and issue petitions and voter registration and pledge cards.
2) State races and referenda There are important state and local races across the country, many organized by coalitions. These may be significant to elect a union member or progressive activist to public office. These local races are an excellent way to drive turnout to the polls and build political power.
Ballot referenda or initiatives are another way to inspire people to come out and vote. In Arizona voters can support a referendum to tax the rich to pay for public education, placed on the ballot by court order. In New Haven voters can support a non-binding referendum to transfer military spending to cities for health, human needs, jobs, and a sustainable environment. In California and other states there are similar progressive initiatives on the ballot.
3) Battlegrounds for U.S. Senate and president In the pandemic campaigning in battlegrounds is virtual. Many unions are focusing on specific states where they have a concentration of members and then organizing their members in other states to call in. This is happening in Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, and North Carolina right now. The power of volunteering with a union is that in addition to getting out the vote and making new friends, these calls help strengthen labor’s structures.
Other examples include Working Families Party, which is targeting calls and texts to voters in cities where they have organization, with the goal of a huge turnout within the Black and Brown communities. The NCVCHP Internationaa andnd Poor People’s Campaign’s Mobilize, Organize, Register and Educate campaign is asking activists to commit to bring 10 people out to vote, and for organizations to bring 1,000.
There are many other organizations hosting calls, texts, letter writing, and social media to specific voters in battleground states. There is an opportunity for every member, including individual members without a club, to participate in the way that fits best for them.
During the period of the Democratic convention, there were scores of caucus meetings with the grass roots of the Democratic Party representing all sections of voter diversity, including labor, seniors, youth, poverty, Black, Latina, AAPI, Native, Asian, women, and LGBTQ. These caucuses reflected the social movements and are now reaching out to the battlegrounds in a targeted way. Our Revolution and Progressive Democrats for America are doing likewise. Securing the vote rises to a new level of concern and organization this year. One of the coalitions is Protect the Results. A significant broad-based movement to defend democracy is emerging. It can’t be another Bush v. Gore situation where the movement was completely caught off guard. Now, with use of force and violence already in the picture, forethought with labor and allies is a must.
For example, in Pittsburgh the Steel Workers union put together a multi-racial group of members experienced in crowd control that volunteered and were welcomed by Black Lives Matter to serve as marshals during a big march. The labor movement has issued a national call for volunteers to be poll workers on election day, knowing that the Republicans are organizing disruptions. This brings us back to the need to mobilize the largest vote as a massive collective effort in every community and state to defend democratic rights and to continue organizing to transform our country to meet the needs and interests of the multi-racial working class and planet.
Our online Voter Pledge sign-up campaign is a tool to get every member, friend, and ally involved. It should be shared and discussed widely. In October the People’s World will host a national Town Hall Forum to get out, secure, and defend the vote. Daily articles at peoplesworld.org are popular to share with the goal of a permanent increase in readership.
This is the time to utilize all our collective experience and creativity and flexibility in these next two months in order to fully engage our members and collectives in a way that strengthens our organization for the battles going forward.
Democracy vs Fascism: Your Vote Matters!
Additional Resources: CPUSA Co-chair Rossana