Oaklandsocialist has repeatedly pointed to Trump’s drive for one-man dictatorial rule. He is doing this by whipping up his supporters into a frenzy of denialism and hatred and outright violence. Through this, he has seized near complete control over his party and, through them over congress. He has also seized near complete control over the federal judiciary, including the all-important federal Appeals Courts. He must maintain that control to keep his money-laundering past hidden. That control is threatened by the possible loss of a Republican majority in the House of “Representatives” (and possibly the Senate) this November. In order to try to prevent that loss, his representatives at the state level have organized widespread removal of voters from the rolls. Here is a round-up of the voter suppression that Trump and his minions are carrying out for the upcoming elections:
- In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp has purged over a half million voters from the polls. In addition, over 53,000 voters who tried to register haven’t been added to the state’s list of active voters. That is justified by a new “exact match” law. This law requires an exact match between registration and state ID’s. If, for example, the middle name is an initial on one and fully spelled out on another, then there is no “exact match”. About 80% of those who fail the “exact match” are people of color. Since 2012, Georgia has closed over 200 polling places, most in poor and/or black neighborhoods. Secretary of State Kemp is also the Republican candidate for governor in a hotly contested race.
- In the first US Supreme Court ruling in which Brett Kavanaugh participated, that court approved of a law in North Dakota which requires voters to present ID with a residential address. About 5% of the state’s population is Native Americans who live on reservations, and for many of them their ID simply gives a PO box. Most of such voters tend to vote Democratic. This could affect the race of Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who’s running for reelection in a close race.
- In Florida, a dubious list of supposed ex-felons was combined with a fraudulent vote count to steal the 2000 election for George Bush (vs. Al Gore). They are still using a similar list to eliminate thousands of registered voters, most of them black. (Florida prohibits ex-felons from voting, which in itself is undemocratic.)
- In Indiana, 469,000 voter registrations were illegally cancelled.
- A similar action was carried out in Kansas.
- In Nevada, 90,000 voters were purged from the rolls based on flawed evidence that they have moved.
- In New Hampshire, a different trick is being played: Voters must produce a NH ID. What this would do is eliminate out-of-state college students, most of whom have driver’s licenses from their home state.
As has been widely reported, the Democrats need to swing 23 House seats from the Republicans to gain the majority in the House of Representatives, and it is considered that there are 26 in all that they could “flip”. According to the NY Times, there are three competitive assembly districts in Florida , two in Georgia, two in Kansas and two in Nevada, making a total of 8 Assembly districts in states where it is known that voter suppression is being carried out. This could easily mean that the Republicans retain control of both houses of congress by fraud.
Rely on the Democrats?
This does not mean that the Democrats will save us. In fact, their response to this electoral fraud shows just the opposite. Their response so far has been to be silent. Why?
Bush v. Gore: Democrats wouldn’t “rock the boat”
In 2000, when Bush stole the election, the Democrats and their main populist representative, the AFL-CIO, did everything they could to prevent any mass protest demonstrations in Florida. Jane McAlevey, then an AFL-CIO operative, explained why in her book “Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)”. A protest march was being planned, but McAlevey got the orders not to help build it. “ ‘The Gore campaign has made the decision that this is not the image they want,’” she was told by her AFL-CIO bosses. “ ‘They don’t want to protest. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to seem like they don’t have faith in the legal system.’”
In other words, keeping confidence in the main institutions of US capitalism and in the so-called “rule of law” was foremost on the agenda of this other party of big business. And what has changed since then? Even Bernie Sanders is ignoring the issue. “this entire (2018) election campaign is going to come down to two words, and that is voter turnout,” he said. But how can voters turn out to vote if they are being purged from the rolls? That is a question that Sanders (and the other Democrats) ignore.
Their (non)response to this is just another example of how their loyalty is first, last, and always to stability of US capitalism, not to the needs of working class people. Yes, sometimes they will grant a few concessions – in order to maintain that stability. But any real advances that have been won – for workers, for people of color, for women, for other oppressed groups, for the environment – have been won exactly by threatening or in fact by overcoming that stability. That was what happened in the 1930s with the labor movement or in the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement. That is why it is such a mistake for the unions to put all their eggs in the basket of getting Democrats elected – because as McAlevey shows, it means also falling in line with the Democrats’ commitment to maintaining stability.
Democratic Socialists of America
Today, tens of thousands of people – mainly young – are looking for a road to socialism and have joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Unfortunately, DSA seems to be caught in a similar trap. The overwhelming focus of DSA’s message is aimed at getting its allies and members elected, almost exclusively through the capitalist Democratic Party. As part of that emphasis, DSA is not tending to organize an open protest campaign against this voter suppression.
It will take a massive show of power in the streets and in the work places to stop this further attack on the democratic rights of working class people. The union leadership, committed as it is to the Democratic Party, has proven it will not organize such power. DSA can and should do so. It should start by calling attention to what is happening now. It should organize campaigns to get into the working class communities, into the work places and into the unions themselves to start to protest now. It should start to build a movement now to shut down the country if this massive voter suppression is not reversed. Such a campaign would include organizing union members to fight for their unions to organize walk-outs. It should be linked to the needs of working class people in order to give a real reason to walk off and shut it down. This includes:
- A serious and open investigation into the criminal activities of both Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh.
- A mass campaign for a $25/hour minimum wage or an immediate $5/hour raise, whichever is greater, plus a guaranteed pension for all.
- Socialized medicine
- A huge, massive emergency investment into renewable energy (solar, tidal and wind especially)in order to prevent the global environmental disaster that threatens human society.
- For a mass working class party and for socialism.
Update, Oct. 16: Bernie Sanders has sent out an email about voter suppression in Georgia. His sole remedy is to donate money to help the NAACP file a suit in court. That was the strategy pursued in the 2000 presidential election. It failed miserably there. Black people did not win the right to vote by going to court; they won it by organizing mass protests in the streets. That’s what it will take again. Sanders’ prescription, which is that of the rest of the liberals, is a diversion from fighting the real struggle.