CPUSA: Electoral uprising shatters records, signals possible democratic breakthrough
Shattering records: Voters cast their ballots in a vote center in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. | Ringo Chiu via AP

The popular chant, “This is what democracy looks like!” can mean many things: people hitting the streets, getting arrested in peaceful protest, organizing themselves into unions, lobbying their elected officials, and yes, even the “simple” act of voting.

The yearning for more democracy is reflected in what can only be described as an electoral upsurge that’s taking place all over the country. Early voting is occurring in record-breaking numbers, with more than 66 million people casting their votes already. Taking the lead is Texas, where over 7.8 million have voted early so far. Democrats are voting early in far greater numbers than Republicans—48.5% of ballots are by registered Democrats vs. 28.7% Republicans—presumably because the latter swallowed Trump’s lies about mail-in voting being fraudulent. And anecdotal though it may be, Biden-Harris signs are sprouting on lawns of once reliably Republican neighborhoods. Phone bankers often get the reply, “Already voted!” For Trump and his Republican Party, these developments are not good.

This is what an electoral uprising looks like.

What brought us to this moment? Front and center of course is the COVID-19 crisis, and Trump’s inept response to it. In addition, there’s extreme wealth inequality, growing corporate power, four horrific years of the Trump presidency, armed militias storming state capitols and plotting to kidnap governors, and along with all this the threat of fascism.

At the same time, we’ve witnessed the unleashing of powerful democratic forces over the past four years: immigration protests at airports; the Women’s Marches and resulting voting power in 2018; recharged labor militancy during the 2018–19 strike wave; renewed Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other African Americans at the hands of the police; youth climate strikes; anti-gun violence marches; and more.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic is not stopping the national electoral uprising now unfolding. Here, Beatrice Lumpkin, a 102-year-old Communist Party veteran, dons full protective gear to mail in her ballot recently. Lumpkin became an international media sensation for her determination to drive Trump and the extreme right from power. | via CPUSA

Now, these forces are converging at the ballot box.

But we cannot take this moment for granted. Anything can happen between now and Nov. 3. Foreboding signs include the uptick in Republican voter registrations in the crucial states of Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The GOP continues to play dirty tricks to suppress the vote and intimidate voters. The postmaster general intentionally slowed down the mail by ordering the removal of sorting machines and mailboxes. The GOP in California has set out private drop-off boxes for ballots outside locations like gun shops, Republican Party offices, and churches where Republican voters are likely to drop off their ballots—a kind of “ballot harvesting” once decried by them. Republican operatives in Philadelphia have been photographing voters dropping off their ballots at drop boxes, hoping to “catch” voters dropping off other people’s ballots.

Is the voting boom a sign of a new phase of a possible democratic breakthrough? One that can be traced to Barack Obama’s first election to the White House, Occupy Wall Street, the Sanders campaign, and the reversal of GOP fortunes in the 2018 House elections? It does have the same feeling: that people are making history. There’s excitement in the air—accompanied by worry and fear over what a second Trump presidency will do to our nation and world—and hope for the prospects of substantial progressive change.

The growing momentum of the labor and people’s movements, the qualitative changes in those movements (more white people supporting the African-American equality movement, for example), and the growing acceptance of common-sense ideas—institutional racism is real, climate change is an existential threat, everyone deserves health care and a living wage—are hopeful signs that something new and good is brewing.

No matter the outcome on Nov. 3, the coalition that has come together in this election must stay united and expand its power. Here, members of the Communist Party on the march in New York recently. | via CPUSA

If the 2018 House election was the preview to Nov. 3, 2020, the day after Inauguration may be a continuation and strengthening of the democratic breakthrough. Just imagine what a celebration that will be! The people’s movements will be in a better position to make greater demands: put an end to systemic racism and anti-Black and anti-brown police violence, reduce carbon emissions and create good-paying jobs, provide health care for all, stop so-called endless wars, and more.

But it will have to be defended—and along with that, the implementation of a people’s agenda will have to be fought for. The extreme right and fascist forces supporting Trump will not go quietly into the night. Much will depend on deepening the people’s unity that is unfolding before our eyes and that in the first place will be required to address the economic and social crisis confronting the country.

But whether today’s electoral momentum translates into real change depends first on altering the playing field—getting rid of Trump and the threat of fascism. Our country’s diverse working class is continuing to rise up and respond to the challenge. People marching, people voting, people’s movements demanding change: This is what democracy looks like.

This editorial was originally published under the title “The voter uprising: A sign of good things to come?” at CPUSA.org. It appears here as a guest op-ed.


Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA

The Communist Party USA is a working-class organization that stands for the interests of the U.S. working class and its people. El Partido Comunista de EE. UU. es una organización de la clase trabajadora que defiende los intereses de la clase trabajadora de EE. UU. y su pueblo. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants' rights groups, and the health care for all campaign. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. But to win a better life, we believe that we must go further. We believe that people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for a "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.