This letter from a revcom.us reader exposes systematic efforts by the fascist Trump/Pence regime and its supporters to undermine the integrity of upcoming elections in their favor. This is an extremely dangerous attack on democratic—and in the case of Black people, extremely hard fought*—rights, and escalation towards fascist consolidation.

These moves need to be firmly opposed and fiercely struggled against—even while the content and role of elections under this system legitimize the functioning of this system. (See “Bob Avakian on the Elections Trap.”)

All of this needs to be much more broadly understood—and debated—as part of making revolution, and the struggle against white supremacy and fascism.

*See revcom.us American Crime series articles on the suppression of Black people’s right to vote: Part 1: Violent Suppression of Black People’s Right to Vote and Part 2: 1965 to Today: Gutting the Voting Rights Act and Disenfranchising Millions of Black People.

Different voices in the U.S. are expressing ample concern that the Trump/Pence regime has no intention of giving up power in January—no matter how unpopular they are, and no matter what happens in the November elections. These fears are certainly justified, given what Trump and the fascist forces are doing in relation to voting and elections, as we’ll get into in this article.

It’s probably the case that Trump and those behind him would prefer to be able to wrap themselves in the “democratic legitimacy” of an election victory, as the regime consolidates its fully fascist authority. So on the one hand, the regime and the Republican Party are pulling out the stops to “win” the presidential election, including by suppressing the vote of those sections of people likely to vote against them, particularly people of color. On the other hand, they are trying to “delegitimize” the election by claiming in advance that it is “rigged”—then if they lose, they can try to hold onto power while contesting or denying the results.

Subverting the Election

Republican-controlled state legislatures have spent decades trying to strip Black, Latino, and Native American people of the right to vote, using a variety of seemingly “race-neutral” laws labeled as “preventing voter fraud.” Republicans claim that such “voter fraud” is widespread, but it is actually almost non-existent, as various studies have documented. Here is a small sample of these laws1:

  • North Dakota set stricter requirements for voter ID; 19 percent of Native Americans lacked the proper ID vs. 12 percent of the rest of the state’s population.
  • Texas specified that a gun license could be used as voter ID, but a state university ID could not; 80 percent of gun licenses are issued to white people, and 50 percent of state university students are people of color.
  • Georgia ordered that the names on voter registration roles must perfectly match the name on the ID presented at the polling station. So, for example, if you spelled out your middle name on one but used an initial on the other, you couldn’t vote. Eighty percent of the people disqualified under this law were people of color.

Since the Trump/Pence regime came to power in 2016, this Republican campaign has escalated, now with the backing of the federal government and the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) “Civil Rights” division dropped lawsuits against Texas and Ohio for violating voting rights. (In Ohio, the DOJ actually switched sides to oppose local civil rights groups.) In Florida, the legislature gutted a constitutional amendment that extended voting rights to ex-prisoners—60 percent Black or Latino—that had been approved by 64 percent of voters. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that to stand, likely preventing hundreds of thousands of people from voting in November.

Intimidation

Now, on the foundation of a vast array of laws, rules and policies that people have to navigate in order to exercise their right to vote, the fascists are bringing in another element—vigilante enforcement.

The New York Times reported in May that the Republican Party had launched a $20 million campaign to recruit “up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious.”

If you look at what these fascists are actually saying and doing, it becomes clear that what they mean by “suspicious” is “people of color,” and what they mean by “monitor” is “intimidate.” Check out the following comments from voter suppression activists at a February “strategy session” organized by the Council for National Policy, a Christian fascist organization.2

In a discussion about who to recruit as poll watchers, one activist asked: “Do you want to go into an inner-city precinct or a tribal precinct and be the Republican there to oversee things? I mean, that is not a comfortable place to be and that is where the fraud happens.” Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, a group that lobbies for tougher restrictions on voting, addressed this concern by saying, “You get some [Navy] Seals in those polls and they’re going to say, ‘No, no, this is what it says. This is how we’re going to play this show.’”

After the conference, True the Vote launched its “Continue to Serve” website specifically to sign up ex-cops and ex-military. The site features a video message from ex-Navy Seal Ed Hiner, who was an active supporter of Eddie Gallagher, another Seal, who was turned in by his own squad for murdering civilians and a wounded, unarmed prisoner. This tells you the kind of “monitors” they are looking for.

In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and the racist vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery, imagine the impact of possibly armed white men approaching Black people near polling places, insisting that they justify their right to vote! Imagine the impact on Latinos (whether immigrants or not) of “poll watchers” demanding “Show me your papers”! This Republican push for “poll watchers” is aimed at scaring people away from polling places, nothing else.

Then on top of all of this, authorities in “red” states have been systematically cutting back on places to register and to vote that are accessible to people of color. They have also been eliminating the practice of early voting and extended hours, which accommodate people with jobs that don’t allow workers to leave for two hours to vote. And these policies have been amplified by the COVID-19 epidemic, because the mostly elderly people who staff the polling stations aren’t coming in because of legitimate fear of the virus. The consequence of all this has been, and will be, people in the cities lined up for many hours—and then, if they’re lucky to get in, entering crowded polling places where they have to risk exposure to coronavirus.3

Delegitimizing the Election in Order to “Legitimize” Staying in Power

As one voting rights activist described what Trump and the Republicans are doing, “This is a burn-it-down strategy, a strategy to win at all costs.” It includes other components that we haven’t gotten into in this article—like social media disinformation campaigns, or possible hacking attacks similar to what Russia is alleged to have attempted in 2016. Taken together with the reality that the Electoral College gives much greater weight to voters in more rural states who tend to favor Trump, there is a very good chance that this will work in November, and Trump will be able to claim victory.

But there are clear signs that the fascists are simultaneously preparing for the possibility that their strategy for winning the election will not work, and that they may be compelled to hold onto power in the face of a major electoral defeat.

The way they are doing this is by claiming in advance that the election is “rigged.” Trump has led the charge on this by attacking mail-in (or “absentee”) voting, which is going to be much more common this year due to the pandemic. Various researchers have put forward that mail-in voting is a virtually fraud-proof method,4 already widely used throughout the U.S., especially by seniors, rural people, and those in the military (constituencies that usually lean Republican). But now that it is needed for Black, Latino, and Native people, it’s another story for the fascists.

On May 24, Trump tweeted, “The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history.” Four days later, it was “MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.” On June 21, Attorney General Barr chimed in, telling Fox News that it “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.” The Republican Party is suing California to block the state from mailing ballots to all registered voters. Trump supporters in Michigan publicly burned absentee-ballot applications they (as voters) received from the state.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could play out if Trump loses the election. The Republicans could unleash an army of lawyers to sue in every state he lost. Trump could claim it was “rigged,” just like he had “predicted.” His supporters, including the armed ones that are increasingly active, could be mobilized and pour into the streets to defend Trump, perhaps backed or led by the “Rapid Deployment Forces” who are now rampaging in Portland and other cities. This, together with the likely real confusion and disorganization created by the epidemic and a massive increase in mail-in voting, could provide the basis for the regime to “dig in.” And at that point, it would take a tremendous outpouring from below to drive him out.

Relying on the Elections to Stop Trump Is NOT “Realistic”!

All this refutes the argument of the Democratic Party that the only “realistic” way to stop Trump is, from now to November, to focus all our energy on getting out the vote. It is time and past time for people to fully come to grips with the fascist character of this regime and the movement that it is leading. It is time and past time for people to ACT on that understanding and the need to drive this regime out, before it can further consolidate power and before it can cause any more unnecessary death and suffering.

It is time and past time for people in growing numbers, ultimately in the millions, to take to the streets and stay there until the demand is met: Trump/Pence Out Now.

______________________

  1. For more on voter suppression, see “Disenfranchising Millions in Service of White Supremacy and Fascism” at revcom.us, and “The New Voter Suppression” from the Brennan Center for Justice.
  2. For more on the Christian fascists, see “Trump/Pence Regime—Racing Towards Theocracy at an Accelerating Pace” at revcom.us.
  3. In April, when COVID was spiking, Wisconsin Republicans sued to prevent an extension of the deadline for applying for mail-in ballots. In Milwaukee, which has about two-thirds of Wisconsin’s Black population, only five polling stations were open in the whole city, down from 180, leaving tens of thousands of people on lines for hours.
  4. Among other things, voters have to sign the ballot, and then their signature is compared to the one on their voter registration form.

Revolution newspaper/revcom.us, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, provides the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the whole process of carrying out our strategy for revolution. Through publishing works of Bob Avakian, and through many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, Revolution enables people to really understand, and act to radically change, the world.


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