People power: At the ballot box and beyond

BY:CPUSA Political Action Commission| August 19, 2020
People power: At the ballot box and beyond


No one movement by itself can determine the outcome of the elections. But all people’s organizations, including the Communist Party USA, can decide what the post-election climate of struggle will look like: will we be fighting for our lives or for the advanced demands we need? The goal of the Communist Party USA is to change what is possible in this given moment with the movement we can and continue to build. The 2020 elections aren’t about getting Biden elected as president. This is mainly about defeating a right-wing agenda in the United States.

The dominance of the right wing in U.S. society had led to many setbacks in the struggle for socialism. Our participation in the elections is a step toward setting the stage for advancing our efforts. Building working-class unity around the 2020 elections is going to be a challenge.

Defeating the far right at the ballot box across the nation at all levels of government will allow for more advanced struggles. The struggle for universal health care, education, and the right to housing and jobs will not develop beyond its current stage if the far right maintains a foothold in the state. Communists must develop real links with the working class, and this cannot be done by sitting out the elections. Millions of workers will head to the polls in November. The result of this election will determine the fate of working people far outside the United States. Communists must strive to be where workers are, not where we want them to be. Working in the elections, the mass movement for Black lives, and other progressive mass organizations is one of the primary ways the Communist Party develops organic ties to the masses.

Many were disappointed when Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic Party presidential primary. Sen. Sanders’ dropping out of the race isn’t the end of the movement that started long before his campaign began. The progressive changes in the Democratic Party will continue. Bernie Sanders’ clear message to his supporters is that their campaign made progress in bringing vital issues like the $15 minimum wage, Green New Deal, and Medicare for All into the mainstream, but to continue and win those fights it is urgent to defeat Trump by voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Progressive working-class organizations will engage in the electoral battle, depending on their own needs and goals. As Communists, we must work with these mass organizations and seek to build real organic ties. Sitting out elections won’t aid in the political development of workers. Elections are a time to educate ourselves and the working class.

A defeat of Trump and a large portion of the right wing will allow the progressive working-class movement to go on the offensive.

The threat of fascism is a real and present danger. Since the 2016 elections, hate crime in the U.S. has risen every year. Immigrant children have been separated from their families, and police violence continues to be a significant issue across the nation. The 2020 elections won’t solve all the glaring problems of the United States. A defeat of Donald Trump and a large portion of the right wing will allow the progressive working-class movement to go on the offensive.

The Young Communist League has a vital role in mobilizing young voters. The coronavirus will shape the politics of millions of Americans for generations to come. Mobilizing workers doesn’t end at the elections. Collecting contact information of the people met through organizing is vital for future struggles. If there is a single issue that gets someone to vote, make a note of it. The minimum wage, immigration reform, or health care may be one reason someone is voting. Don’t only take notes on those who will be voting in the election. Those who don’t vote can be a good source of information. Many workers don’t vote, and this is what the right wing in the United States wants. The fewer people that vote, the more the right wing tends to win. Understanding the reasons people don’t vote in your area helps inform future organizing efforts.

The right to a higher education

Student loan debt is stunting the future of many. The economic depression we are faced with will only get worse under the current regime in government. An economic stimulus for workers and students is needed. Student loan forgiveness and universal higher education are goals outside the movement’s reach if the Republican Party is allowed to dominate politics.

The right to a job

Gainful employment is hard to come by. The fight for $15 movement has taken years to get the minimum wage raised in several states. In many states, raising the minimum wage has been delayed to the point of barely helping low-wage workers. The cost of living continues to go up across the nation, and the federal government hasn’t responded. The right to a job must include a right to unionize. Stronger labor laws that favor workers instead of the bosses is a need. This is something that won’t be accomplished if the Republican Party remains the dominant force in the nation.

The right to health care

Now more than ever has the fight for universal health care become a central issue facing the nation. The coronavirus has shown how fragile the system of capitalism is and the health-care model that puts profits before people. Hospitals have run out of space, testing has been delayed or improperly administered, and many have suffered little to no action by the federal government. Universal health care, including the nationalization of hospitals, is needed. The coronavirus will not be the last pandemic to hit this nation.

Police reform and freedom from racial discrimination

Racism has long been a pillar on which the U.S. has been built. It maintains a racial caste system to preserve the power of the capitalist ruling class. The police are a weapon of ruling-class oppression. The racist killings of black and brown youth by the police is part of the oppressive system we live in. The police need to defunded and reconstructed to be accountable to the people whose communities they police.

The environmental movement

The struggle over the environment is about having a future worth fighting for. Climate change and pollution have destroyed the communities of the poor and people of color. The New Deal represents a step in the right direction toward leaving harmful fossil fuels behind and offering new jobs to workers who would otherwise be displaced when the economy would have to shift away from fossil fuels when the wells start to run dry.

The money is there for all these needs by cutting the military budget and taxing the rich. Movements for these demands are also growing across the country among youth and all generations.

Elections are an essential time to build new working relationships with working-class voters. It is necessary to emphasize the progressive change that can happen with the defeat of the Republican Party in 2020. There are more progressive and socialist candidates in office than there have been in a long time. The uprisings for Black Lives, workers’ rights, and the right to live are helping to shift the nation’s politics into a more socialist direction.

Vote like your life depends on it—it does!

Image: Stephen Harlan, Creative Commons (BY 2.0).


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