CPUSA co-chair Sims: Fighting fascist threat a top priority
Communist Party USA Co-Chair Joe Sims speaks at the CPUSA's 32nd National Convention in Chicago, June 7. | Taylor Dorrell / People's World

Read more coverage of the Communist Party USA’s 32nd National Convention.

CHICAGO – “The battle lines are clear. We’re fighting a fascist danger at home and a genocidal war abroad. And to defeat the danger at home, we’ve got to defeat the war abroad.” CPUSA co-chair Joe Sims gave this warning on June 7, as he keynoted the 32nd National Convention of the Communist Party USA.

It isn’t just a matter of the wolves at the door. Sims’s words cautioned that we’re already in the midst of plenty of trouble. “Let’s make it plain,” he said. “Biden’s Israel policy must be defeated today so that” Republican presidential nominee Donald “Trump and MAGA can be defeated tomorrow.”

While the double threat may be a challenging prospect, Sims outlined the strategy to combat it: “We keep the pressure on. In fact, turn it up, turn it way up! Mass public pressure is the only thing this ruling class understands. It’s all about power and relationships of power. It’s only by building mass working class-led movements that real change can be achieved.”

Such fighting words are spoken at a time when, even amidst an embattled ceasefire movement in the U.S. and beyond, problems for people in the U.S. are already festering here at home. “Never forget the Confederate flags,” said Sims. “The nooses, the bear spray, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the neo-Nazis, the Ku Kluxers. But more than that, never forget the men in blue pin-striped suits, and their attempt to stay in power no matter what. Never forget Trump standing in front of the White House, claiming the election was stolen.”

The groups, the rebel flag, the nooses, and the bear spray were all features of Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021,  invasion, insurrection, and attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol to keep the now-convicted felon in office. The corporate class and big Republican donors provided the invaders’ cash. MAGA politicians cheered them on, or worse.

The opening of the 32nd CPUSA National Convention. On stage, from left: Roberta Wood, Rossana Cambron, Joe Sims, Melissa Parks, Paul Kaczocha. | Taylor Dorrell / People’s World

Sims also spoke of the “raw racism at the very heart of MAGA,” and added, “Immigrants are a special target.

“First, they tried the wall,” Sims said of Trump’s scheme to keep migrants from entering the U.S. across the Mexican border. “Then the Muslim ban, now they’re planning concentration camps. That’s right, we said it. And if they come for immigrants in the morning, they’re damn sure coming for us at noon.

“Think mass firings, public lynchings, public trials for the act of thinking. Think it can’t happen here? Think again, it already did. It was called McCarthyism.

“Hell yeah, there’s a fascist danger,” Sims said,  emphasizing that’s why everything has to be done now to prevent it. “And what will Trump do when the people rise up and say no? Will he invoke the Insurrection Act, call out the National Guard and the militias, suspend the Constitution? Honestly, we don’t know. What we do know is we don’t want to find out. Fascism in this country could mean a dictatorship. Democracy as we know it could be eliminated.”

Responses from the crowd were positive, including frequent interruptions of applause from the 270+ delegates and dozens of invited guests.

“We are geared up to fight the battle,” one delegate declared. “The forces in this country that want a dictatorship are fired up and we have to be fired up.”

But we’re not at fascism yet, of course, Sims said. And that moment of respite – for however long it lasts – means that for now, “There is room for struggle. Let us use that space to fight for a ceasefire in Gaza and for an end to the war in Ukraine. Let us use it to stop the expansion of NATO, end the blockade of Cuba, and bring the Cold War against China to a close.

“Let us use that space to address the enormous problems we face here at home: The stagnant wages, the homelessness, the poisoned environment, the epidemic of police murder, the mass shootings, the opioid crisis, the epidemic of domestic violence against women.

Artists from the People’s Music Network perform at the opening of the CPUSA Convention. | Taylor Dorrell / People’s World

Sims said it’s going to be a long and difficult fight, but he said the good news is the struggle has already begun. “Workers are starting to take the fight to bosses. Strikes are up and concessions are down. Unions are putting new muscle into organizing drives. The AFL-CIO has declared its independence from MAGA and pledged to defeat them up and down the ballot. Then a few weeks later they declared their independence from Biden’s Israel policy and demanded a ceasefire.

He also emphasized that the African-American ministry was the first to challenge” Democratic President Joe Biden’s unflinching support of Israel’s war on Gaza. “And just yesterday, the NAACP demanded Biden cut military aid to Israel. If you want something to occur, do something about it!”

Acknowledging that the ever-present roadblock of economic hardship can still worsen the plight of workers, Sims continued, stating, “We’re told the economy is booming. But booming for who? Rent is skyrocketing. Homelessness is increasing. Millions of children have been returned to poverty. Prices are still high and workers still have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet.

“Add to that the climate emergency – the worsening storms and the summer forest fires – while Trump promises Big Oil to undo the little progress achieved since he left office for the small fee of $1 billion to his campaign fund.”

He then turned to the historic question the Communist movement has always asked, “What, then, is to be done?” He said, “The answer can be summed up in one word: Organize. Now is the time for workers to organize and push as hard as possible for wages and benefits and for health and safety. Now is the time to push for housing and for canceling student debt. Now is the time to tax the rich.

“While doing so, we point out over and over again the capitalist roots of these crises and the need for socialist solutions. That’s our plus. We are fighting for the right to a job, quality education, control over our bodies, the right to vote, and the right to live free of police murder. Capitalism constantly undermines and overturns those rights. That’s the nature of the system and the whole point is to reveal that nature in the course of struggle.”

“We have to gear up to stop the military machine,” one delegate from Connecticut responded. He linked the anti-MAGA fight to overturning the war economy and for the shift of funds and priorities the CPUSA advocates. Sims said, as an aside, that MAGA Republicans even want a war on Mexico.

As Sims spoke to wild peals of applause, he said, “On the one side, there’s the ruling class forces of white supremacy and MAGA pulling the country apart. On the other, there’s the working-class forces of democracy pulling the country together.”

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Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake is a writer and production manager, responsible for the daily assembly of the People's World home page. He has earned awards from the IWPA and ILCA, and his articles have appeared in publications such as Workday Minnesota, EcoWatch, and Earth First News. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill in New Orleans and the 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend and their cats. He enjoys wine, books, music, and nature. In his spare time, he reviews music, creates artwork, and is working on several books and digital comics.

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.