The role of the Left in the 2020 elections
This 2020 election is literally a mass uprising of voters including among them the millions of women who began marching for equal rights and democracy as soon as Trump became president. | Wikipedia (CC)

Support of a broad anti-Trump coalition is building momentum for the Biden-Harris ticket in this historic 2020 presidential election, now just days away. If the effects of important grassroots work continue, and the huge Democratic registration and early voting tally up, then Trump’s monstrous reign will end. This is not just a battle of Democrats vs. Republicans; this is a battle of the people vs. the extreme right, a fascist-minded president, and his party.

A victory of the democratic forces against the extreme right can change the political landscape for working people, opening the way for huge advancements for the entire democratic alliance. The fact that the anti-Trump movement is a grassroots, multiracial coalition of millions of working people is decisive in itself. The movement is multigenerational as well as politically and regionally diverse. It embraces unions; all the major Civil Rights organizations, including Black Lives Matter, Me Too, those struggle to defend reproductive health; groups demanding an end to police murder; frontline workers battling COVID; fighters for LGBTQ rights; the movements committed to mitigating the effects of climate change; and those fighting for Medicare for All.

The broad democratic forces that are prepared to defeat Trump can also hold the Democratic Party accountable to the rising progressive expectations in the post-election period while also fighting the right-wing reactionaries sure to resist and undo any progressive agenda.

Most of the U.S. Left is supporting this broad coalition against Trump and Trumpism. But some have concerns; they are old questions, but real ones. The Left must be a part of this historic broad coalition both before and after the election.

Some who have adopted the strategic goal of socialism but do not want to work with Democrats and/or liberals are rejecting the concept of the United Front. Good people struggle with the idea of reforms. The lesser evil question comes up all the time. This is a tactical question. Accepting the importance of the United Front and the democratic phase of struggle means understanding that the road to socialism is paved with the fight for democratic reforms.

The struggle for revolutionary change cannot succeed without fighting for democratic reforms. The left has a long history of building a united front by working with ideological diversity. The slogan “reform or revolution” is misleading and politically narrow.  A better, more effective slogan would be “Reform and Revolution.”  Diversity of thought with unity of action works. That is the tactical reality of class and social movements throughout history.

Let me put it this way. I want to work for the day when a trade union leader or a civil rights leader will occupy the White House and the bulk of the Congress reflects that same composition. What level of unity and action will that take?

The path to socialism is paved with the struggle for democracy. The times call for all hands on deck in this historic struggle. The stakes are very high, and the role of the Left is vital.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.

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Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is the former executive vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism, and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses, and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality, and the socialist alternative.