Republican Party Declares War on Black & Latino Voters
Union Activists Can Organize to Stop Them
The Republican Party has declared war on black and Latino voters. That is what happened when they let Trump off the hook. Union activists can organize to stop them. Consider:
Trump’s campaign to reverse the election result was based on an attempt to get the votes thrown out in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, and Atlanta – all key centers of black voter strength. Something similar is true in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Phoenix is located. That is a center of strength for Latino voters. Trump and his supporters campaigned to get their votes thrown out there also.
Republican “Heroes” Supported Trump
Many Republican leaders openly supported Trump’s campaign. Others supported it indirectly. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell claimed that Trump had every right to pursue his lies in court. In the first place, what Trump and his flunkies were doing was the equivalent of filing harassment lawsuits, which was a business tactic of Trump for years. So, no, he didn’t have that right. But anyway, what McConnell didn’t do was condemn the lies of Trump & Co.
There were seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump. They were saluted as heroes by the Democrats. No, they are not. With the exception of Mitt Romney, they all supported Trump for reelection. This was while he was making clear that he was not going to accept any result other than a victory for himself. Yet they supported him anyway, knowing full well that this was not just an empty threat.
But there is more: Going all the way back to 2015 Trump has a history of provoking and supporting violence against political opponents. He called for his supporters to “beat the hell out of” anybody who heckled him in his rallies. He offered to provide a lawyer for anybody who was arrested for assault. As president, he suggested that police should rough up those they arrested. During the violent Charlottesville fascist rally, he said there were “some good people” in that mob. He tweeted support for the violent mob in Michigan that invaded the state Capitol building there. And when some of those Michigan fascists were arrested for planning on lynching Michigan governor Whitmer, Trump continued to whip up the mood against her. Since the election, numerous Republican election officials have received death threats. Trump has not spoken out against that once. Nor is it only what he said; it’s also what he did. What, after all, was tearing children out of the arms of their parents and locking them up in cages? Isn’t that violence to children and families? Doesn’t it also incite a violent attitude?
How about Romney? Is he also guilty since he didn’t support Trump? In the law, if you are a gang member and that gang commits a crime, you are guilty of that crime even if you weren’t involved. The same holds for Romney. He continues as a member of a racist and violent political party. His presence as a Republican senator came within a hair’s breath of putting the ever slimy Mitch McConnell back in charge of running the senate and may again after the 2022 elections. Romney is guilty too.
The (Democratic) House impeachment managers did an excellent job reminding us of exactly what happened on January 6 and showing the very real dangers that existed. They clearly proved that Trump was responsible. What they failed to do was to show that the entire Republican Party is at least the enablers of Trump’s racist violence. It is for that reason that Jake Tapper said on CNN on the day after the Senate vote that the impeachment managers’ presentation was very “Republican friendly.” Some will justify this by saying that they were hoping to win enough votes from the Republicans to get Trump convicted. That was never anything but a pleasant dream. The reality was shown by Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee privately huddling with Trump’s Defense lawyers during the trial. That’s like jurors meeting privately with the lawyers for one side or the other during a criminal trial. Those jurors would be thrown off the jury at a minimum. Yet no senator – Republican or Democrat – raised this travesty.
The reason the Democrats didn’t expose the guilt of the entire Republican Party is that they hope to work together with at least the “moderates”. These so-called “moderates” are increasingly playing a role similar to the “progressive” wing of the Democrats. The progressive Democrats play the role of giving hope to conscious workers and others on the left so that no independent working class political movement will develop. This wing never has and never will really set the agenda for their party, though. The “moderate” Republicans are similar. It is now increasingly clear that the Republican agenda is being set by Trump and his minions. Just a week after the January 6 mob attack, when the horrors were still on people’s minds, Trump retained 87% support among Republicans. Seventy-six percent of Republicans support the “stolen election” lie. This means they support not counting the votes of black and Latino voters if those votes matter in the election’s outcome.
Racism at the Heart of Matter
While the Democratic house impeachment managers made clear what happened on January 6, they didn’t really clarify that it was all about in effect denying the right to vote for black and Latino voters. (Incidentally, the “progressive” wing of the Democrats are included here.) This leaves the door open to those attacks continuing. And continue they are.
With support for the Republicans having sunk down to 37%, it might seem impossible for them to win another national election or to gain control over the House of Representatives or US Senate. Don’t count on it.
As Oaklandsocialist explained the Republicans plan to step up voter suppression and also further reduce the effectiveness of the votes of black and Latino voters through two means:
Voter Suppression & Gerrymandering
First is to deepen voter suppression. Previously, the Democrats countered the closing of polling places in black communities by organizing Democrats to do mail-in (or absentee) voting. Now, the Republicans are countering that. They are moving to only allow mail-in voting to those voters who can show that they will be out of town on election day.
The other means of rendering ineffective the votes of black and Latino voters is through gerrymandering. Every ten years, new voting districts are drawn up based (supposedly) on the census. These districts are drawn up by the state legislatures. Gerrymandering has a major effect. For example, in 2012 Democrats won 51% of the vote in Pennsylvania, yet they only won a quarter of congressional seats. On the left is a view of a gerrymandered voting district in Michigan. You can see the weird shapes they conjure up to minimize the impact that black voters can make.
Already plans are being drawn up for a real “festival” of gerrymandering in 2021.
Like a chess game, the Democrats are countering these plans by introducing a new bill, the “For the People Act”. This would limit the ability of state legislatures to gerrymander and would increase ballot access, including access to mail-in voting. However, the Supreme Court already took the teeth out of the original voting rights act and it seems likely they would find an excuse to do something similar this time.
Mobilize Working Class
In the end, how this plays out will depend on the balance of class forces. Right now, the mainstream of the capitalist class prefers that bigotry, political violence and science denialism do not boil out of control. This mainstream has largely lost control over the Republican Party and operates mainly through the Democratic Party. As for the working class, working through the union bureaucracy and the NGO’s, the Democrats have been able to keep our class largely dependent on them and demobilized. It’s true that there was the massive outpouring of Black Lives Matter protests last year, but because of the role of the nonprofits this did not lead to a working class organization with a working class-oriented program and democratic structures. Instead, at the end of the day much of it was channeled into simply voting for the Democrats and leaving matters in their hands.
No wing of the Democrats – Sanders, AOC, etc. included – ever had a strategy of organizing mass protests. In this presidential election, the mood was so strong that their weak strategy worked, just barely. Next time, we may not be so lucky.
Local Union Committees
The top union leadership has proven decisively that they will not do anything significant about this crisis. However, at the local level union members and serious local officers can make a start. For example, committees named something like “Defend all Workers Committees” or something along those lines can be set up in the locals. These committees could start a campaign to explain to the members and the wider working class what is really at stake here – how the lie about the election “steal” is really aimed at black and Latino voters, how this affects all workers, etc. Where possible, such local committees could link up between different local unions to form a regional committee.
These committees can link up with community and youth groups to lead public protests as the Republicans’ racist voter suppression and racist gerrymandering develops. Within the unions, they can press for the union leadership to take more decisive action. In this way, a working class fightback can start to develop.
These are some concrete ideas for how rank and file union activists and serious union officers can start to build a working class fight-back. Oaklandsocialist hopes that this will help spark off a discussion on how to move forward inside the unions.