2024 elections: Defeat MAGA and create new opportunities for change
Protester Jill Green holds a sign during a rally against a visit by then-President Donald Trump, March 12, 2018, in San Diego. | Gregory Bull / AP

In a recent interview, Mehdi Hasan asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez how she would respond to an Arab American or young person who said, “I just can’t vote for Biden again.” Ocasio-Cortez responded,

“Everyone comes to this prospect and conversation with a different history and background. For an individual Palestinian American who has had their family killed, there is nothing I can say, and I’m not here to lecture anyone.

“I also think that this election is about more than the president, and also, it’s not just one election happening. We’re having hundreds of elections, the balance of Congress, the balance of the House, the balance of the Senate, and the presidency. And I have a vested interest in protecting democracy, not just domestically but globally.

“I truly believe this isn’t a lesser-of-two-evils situation. I think about what conditions do I want to be organizing under during the next four years. You can look at both individuals oppositionally, depending on what issue. But I would rather—even in places of stark disagreement—be organizing under the conditions of Biden as an opponent on an issue than Trump, who seeks to dismantle American democracy. Because we will not be able to organize for any movement towards anything if we are facing the jailing of dissidents. This is the kind of authoritarianism that he threatens. And we must take it seriously.”

AOC correctly places this question in the framework of the bigger stakes in the 2024 election and the long-term struggle for peace, democracy, and environmental and social justice. We desire an outcome that gives the U.S. multiracial working class and people and mass democratic movements the best possible terrain of struggle to continue fighting for a ceasefire and advancing a pro-labor, pro-people, and environmental justice agenda.

The 2024 elections are about shifting the political balance of forces and leveraging the power of the federal and state governments to advance the interests of the multiracial working class and its allies, the mass democratic movements, and the anti-MAGA majority.

We must constantly remind ourselves how disastrous Trump’s presidency and GOP control of Congress were, and GOP control of many statehouses is now. Just take the total MAGA corruption of the federal judiciary, right-wing justices legislating from the bench, and protecting Trump from accountability for his serial criminal behavior.

Or the Federalist Society’s organized takeover and corruption of the U.S. Supreme Court majority. These political and ideological hacks are carrying out a “constitutional coup” to impose a white Christian nationalist, hierarchal, racist, and patriarchal agenda, beginning with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which the vast majority of people oppose.

And we need to be reminded of the damage Trump can do if he wins the presidency and the GOP wins Congressional majorities in 2024. Or even if the electoral college outcome or battleground state and district races are close enough to trigger one of several MAGA coup plots to steal the election?

Trump and MAGA are openly declaring the terrifying governing agenda they intend to impose. The Project 2025 agenda is a plan to impose an authoritarian, fascist state and dismantle rights won over a century of struggle.

They aim to obliterate New Deal, Civil Rights, and Great Society gains, impose a national abortion ban, deport millions of immigrants, impose martial law on campuses and cities, imprison left and progressive activists, abolish LGBTQ rights, and impose press censorship, for starters.

Trump is openly selling his administration to the highest bidder, as he did recently by asking energy company CEOs for $1 billion in exchange for reversing the Biden climate policies while the planetary emergency intensifies.

MAGA’s fascist agenda is already unfolding in real-time in so-called “red” states like Florida, Texas, Idaho, Alabama, etc., where state governments are imposing authoritarian regimes and dramatically rolling back rights. What starts in “red” states always goes national.

Control over the presidency, Congress, statehouses, and judiciary would fast-track fascist rule nationally. It would entrench Christian Nationalist domination of the U.S. Supreme Court for another generation and accelerate the “constitutional coup.”

The fear of MAGA fascism and the defense of constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and the peaceful transfer of power unites a majority of Americans across all sectors and strata of society.

Democrats, independents, and even a section of Republicans, including Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, former Republican Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, former GOP Speaker Paul Ryan, The Lincoln Project, and those casting protest votes in the GOP primaries for Nikki Haley, are united by their opposition to MAGA and in defense of constitutional democracy.

The fear of MAGA and the defense of democracy drove the turnout of the anti-MAGA majority in 2018, 2020, and then after the Dobbs decision repealing Roe v. Wade in 2022, 2023, and special elections in 2024.

Suppose the anti-MAGA majority sentiment turns out at the polls in November. In that case, the entire balance of forces and terrain of struggle can shift in a more favorable direction, opening new opportunities to advance progressive politics, potentially a radical democratic, environmental, economic, and social agenda, and changes in foreign policy.

Just look at what happened following the election of Biden and Harris and Democratic Congressional majorities by the narrowest margins in 2020. Democrats passed historic legislation, even if short of what democratic movements wanted or needed. The achievements included the American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Jobs and Infrastructure Act. Biden appointed the most diverse judiciary, including the first female African American Supreme Court justice. His administration instituted new pro-climate, pro-environment regulations. Biden appointed a pro-worker NLRB, which facilitated the expansion of workplace union organizing, and was the first president to walk a picket line.

The 2024 elections are about collectively defending what the exceedingly broad pro-democracy coalition has had a massive role in winning so far and setting the stage to go further. The pro-democracy majority can win more with an ally in the White House, more enormous Congressional majorities and more activists elected to public office.

A bigger Democratic Senate majority could eliminate the anti-democratic filibuster, and Congress could potentially pass the PRO Act, a law codifying Roe v. Wade, a new voting rights act, accelerate the green transition, cancel student debt, begin the process of demilitarization, win D.C. statehood, oust corrupt justices from the Supreme Court, adopt DC statehood, and more.

States where voters elected Democratic trifectas, such as Minnesota, Michigan, California, Illinois, and Washington, took significant steps forward. Advanced legislation passed promoting reproductive rights, voting rights, a green transition, bail bond reform, and worker rights, including the repeal of right-to-work legislation in Michigan.

Coalition-building is the alpha and omega of politics. Broad and diverse coalitions, with the multiracial working class and its allies in the forefront, increase the possibilities for transformational change.

The pro-democracy alliance (or, if you prefer, united front or popular front) and every major social force are or will be deeply engaged with voter registration, education, and mobilization. Their actions will build on the strike and union organizing waves, the struggles for reproductive rights, for a ceasefire in Gaza, for climate action, and more.

This electoral coalition is a mass of contradictions by nature, encompassing different class, social, and political tendencies. Coalition partners are aligned on critical issues and opposed to others. All see the threat to democracy as the main danger and understand how the outcome is decisive for creating more favorable conditions to advance their agendas. This realization allows AOC, Shawn Fain and the UAW, the AFL-CIO, the CPUSA, and others to work like hell to defeat MAGA in November and fight for a ceasefire in Gaza simultaneously.

The entire AFL-CIO is mobilizing, including the National Association of Building Trades Unions (NABTU), which made its earliest-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate. The endorsement is a significant development in light of right-wing influence within NABTU and considerable support for Trump among its members in the last two elections.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) plans to “spend a record $200 million to mobilize working-class households (Black, Brown, white, Asian, Indigenous, and Latino) in key battleground states and build on the moment of strike waves.”

The same applies to major civil rights, reproductive rights, women’s organizations, environmental justice organizations, and the LGBTQ community, who are all mobilizing and will make tens of millions of direct voter contacts in battleground states.

The pro-democracy coalition operates with a national strategic outlook to shift the entire balance of politics in the country, affecting the White House and Congress. By profoundly engaging in mass voter mobilization, the diverse pro-democracy coalition can emerge from the election stronger, more united, and better positioned for the fights ahead.

Seven battleground states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina) and a few dozen Congressional Districts will determine the outcome. Those who live in “safe” blue states can participate in mobilizations in the battleground states and districts, including phone banks, labor walks, canvassing caravans, voter registration drives, and postcard writing.

That takes me back to the AOC quote: What ground do we want to fight on post-election? And if we have to oppose—including sharply—who would we rather fight, Trump or Biden? There is no third choice.

The multiracial working class and people and mass democratic movements have shown they have clout with Biden and the Democrats and that the administration responds to public sentiment and mass pressure and, in many cases, incorporates the demands of labor and mass democratic movements in their policies.

However, the working class, people, and mass democratic movements will be on the total defensive with Trump and MAGA.

“We can’t let our democracy that we’ve worked for and cherish just disintegrate,” said NABTU president Sean McGarvey. “Trump is incapable of running anything. And God help us if he gets near that White House in the future.”

As with all op-eds and news-analytical articles published by People’s World, the views expressed above are those of the author.

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John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.