DO NOT SIT OUT THIS ELECTION

By Hope Shinpo. Posted May 12, 2024

Many activists have been working incredibly hard every day to demand an end to the genocide of the Palestinians, to demand that immigrants be treated like human beings, and are fighting for many other social justice issues in this country.  This organizing is critically important and must continue to grow regardless of the elections.

The Biden Administration is using massive amounts of American taxpayers’ money to send sophisticated weapons of war to Israel, to commit genocide on the Palestinian people and destroy their homes, businesses, hospitals, food and water supplies, and entire towns.  Here in the U.S., tens of thousands of immigrant families continue to be abused and imprisoned in detention camps and under electronic surveillance.

It is no wonder that many progressive-minded people have little enthusiasm for voting for Biden, especially but not only among Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.  Some activists do not plan to get involved in the 2024 presidential election because they feel that it will make little difference whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House.

rotesters marching around campus in support of Palestine are pictured. The rally was co-hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA in collaboration with the UCLA chapter of the UC Divest Coalition. (Joseph Jimenez/UCLA Bruin Photo editor)

It is true that terrible crimes have been committed not just by Republican Presidents but also by Democrats who were in the White House.  It was a Democrat President, Franklin D. Roosevelt who ordered the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII; it was a Democrat President Harry Truman who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, it was Democrat Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson who carried out the Vietnam War.  If there is injustice, we must fight it no matter who it comes from or from what party they call themselves.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE VERY IMPORTANT REASONS WHY

PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS SHOULD NOT SIT OUT

THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who continues to be one of the most outspoken critics of the Biden administration’s actions in the Middle East, has made it clear that the sharp differences between her and President Biden about Israel and the Palestinians won’t stop her from supporting Biden in the November election, to stop Trump.

“Of course,” Omar said when asked by CNN’s Abby Phillip on “NewsNight” whether she would vote for Biden if the election were held that day, “Democracy is on the line, we are facing down fascism.”  “And I personally know what my life felt like having Trump as the president of this country, and I know what it felt like for my constituents, and for people around this country and around the world,” Omar continued. “We have to do everything that we can to make sure that does not happen to our country again.”

The 2024 presidential election is NOT just a matter of Biden vs. Trump.  This is not only about Trump as an individual.  The reality is that what we are dealing with is an already large and aggressive extreme right wing/white supremacist movement which has been gaining ground nationally as they have taken over the Republican Party.

Republicans now control 28 states governments, more than half of the states in the country.  Most of those states have banned abortion or are expected to.  Republicans in more than 30 states have introduced or passed bills to restrict “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) programs or activities.  Numerous Republican governors have already sent armed state troopers from their states into Texas to support Gov. Abbott’s immigration actions at the border.

MAGA Republicans have taken over many local school boards, city and county governments across the country, even inside blue states.  White Christian nationalists and other right wing elements have gained considerable influence and control in various units of law enforcement and within the U.S. military.

The extreme right-wing Republicans have gained more power in Congress over the recent years — you see their faces and ugly behavior on the news every day.  Conservatives are the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

If Trump wins the election, the extreme right wing forces ride into power with him.

It will be as though the Confederacy won the Civil War and took over the government on the federal, state and local levels, far beyond the deep South.

Still photo from Now This News video on Project 2025.

Learn the lessons from the 2016 election:   In 2016, most liberals and progressives were shocked that Trump won the presidential election and assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win easily.  But they should not have been so shocked.  They were mistakenly focused on dismissing Trump as an individual on the fringes of American politics.  They were not looking at the bigger picture, at the reality of the growth of the right-wing movement surrounding Trump. They were not paying sufficient attention to the psychological and emotional appeal of the racist and right wing message among a very large sector of the American population.

If at some point this right-wing movement feels that Trump is not hard-line enough or effective enough in implementing their agenda, they would be willing to move past him and they have plenty of other spokespersons to replace him. That’s why attention needs to be paid to that movement and not only focus on Trump as an individual.

Another lesson from the 2016 election is to look into the history of the electoral college’s roots in slavery and how it continues to be used as a tool by white supremacists today.  Trump had fewer popular votes than Clinton, but the electoral college gave him the Presidency.

It is true that the atmosphere and trends in American politics can shift unexpectedly and dramatically, such as the trend that voted Obama into office, or the spontaneous upsurge of anti-racism demonstrations across the country following the murder of George Floyd, even in mostly white small towns in the South.  We can hope for a stronger trend to arise among the population that will push back harder against the right-wing movement.

But let us not forget that 74 million people voted for Trump in the 2020 election – and this is after these voters fully got a chance to see what he did while he was in office from winning the 2016 election.  Since 2020, the right wing has steadily made more inroads and gains.  It probably won’t happen in this election, but long term, we need think about how to win over a significant number of those voters to a better path, or else that large mass base will remain an ongoing source of support for right-wing leaders throughout the country.

Meanwhile we must do a lot more voter registration/education and get-out-the vote among new voters, especially among Asians, Latinx and Native tribes — who still lag behind the percentage of African Americans who vote.  The growing population demographics among peoples of color does not automatically translate to political power unless it becomes organized.

It is unpleasant to think about what it can be like to live under violently repressive fascism, but we cannot afford to ignore the possibility that very soon, once the January 2025 inauguration takes place, we could all be experiencing Day 1 of the dictatorship.  Let’s not again be “shocked” like so many were in 2016.

TRUMP HAS REPEATEDLY AND PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED

WHAT HE PLANS TO DO ONCE HE IS BACK IN POWER

For all of the serious faults of the Biden Administration, Biden and Trump are NOT the same.  It WILL make a huge difference if Trump is back in the White House.  He has already and repeatedly announced to the public a long list of what he and the rest of the extreme right wing movement promise to do, so we cannot say that we weren’t warned.

Trump and the right wing have promised to finish what they were not able to complete during his first term, such as getting rid of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, which will take away health insurance from 21.3 million people.

Immigration:  Trump and the right wing have promised to carry out massive round-ups and deportations of immigrants and huge concentration camps.  For a long time the right wing has wanted to get rid of the birthright section of the 14th Amendment so that children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents will no longer have citizenship, and Trump promises to do that.

Middle East:    Trump has had ongoing schemes in the Middle East for profitable ventures for his own family businesses at the expense of the Palestinians.  During Trump’s first term, in violation of international law, his administration declared that the U.S. would consider Israeli settlements on the West Bank to be legal.  Trump said that he would reject Palestinians from entering the United States, and he has called for ideological screenings for anyone entering the U.S.

The conservative Heritage Foundation has already publicly released its playbook of very specific and detailed steps for making all the government agencies conform to the right-wing ideological agenda, as part of their “Project 2025 Presidential Transition Project”:  https://www.project2025.org/policy/

THE RIGHT WING/WHITE SUPREMACIST MOVEMENT WILL

BE GIVEN ENORMOUS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND POWER

IF TRUMP COMES BACK INTO THE PRESIDENCY

Power and resources:   Trump has promised to re-classify tens of thousands of federal government employees and replace them with MAGA supporters of Trump, including the white supremacists and white Christian nationalists, the conspiracy theory fanatics, the anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing elements.  They can take control of the financial and organizational resources such as computer databases.

They will destroy inspection programs that identify serious violations and enforce of the law for food safety, civil rights, child labor, health care, etc. in every branch of the federal government.  They can create much more widespread harm, governmental dysfunction, fraud and corruption than what they already did during Trump’s first term.

They have no concern for responsible governance; we have already seen how the MAGA members of Congress only want to use governmental power to enforce their ideological agendas.  We have seen the constant chaos they enjoy creating and thrive upon.

Political Repression and use of violence:  Already, the right wing has caused people to be unjustly fired from their jobs, arrested, and some deaths.  They are using increasingly aggressive and violent actions to break up demonstrations and target journalists.   Activists have responded by openly organizing even more protests and continuing to actively educate and advocate via social media and public events.  While mainstream media coverage is very often biased, we still have some freedom of the press, and freedom of expression by artists.  A Trump administration may shut down these remaining avenues of free speech and assembly.  He has promised that the scope of repression will be wide and heavy.”

Trump has vowed on Day 1 to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy the military to crush any protest or dissent.  Along with the use of the military and state troopers, he will allow roving bands of right-wing militias to terrorize, maim and murder without facing criminal prosecution.  It could become like Stalin’s purges, and worse than the Salem witch hunts and the McCarthy Era, especially with the use of advanced technology for surveillance.

He has purposely used terms like “dictator” and Nazi-like language dehumanizing people as “vermin” in order to normalize these terms and ideas.  He has fanned the flames to appeal to the most barbaric and vile aspects of human nature.  Every day Trump incites his extreme right base’s hunger for violence, bloodlust, white supremacy, religious intolerance and civil war.  They have already created the atmosphere in which the level of violence and hostility has escalated against peoples of color, women, LGBTQ, and against both Muslim/Arab-Americans and Jews.

We have faith that throughout history, there always continues to be resistance even under the very worst of conditions — such as it was in the Deep South during the Civil Rights movement for voting rights in the face of brutal Klan violence; or all those who bravely joined the Resistance throughout Europe during Hitler/Mussolini/Franco’s time. Therefore, even if Trump comes to power, we know that resistance will definitely continue here in the U.S.

Nonetheless, when the level of repression severely restricts the mobility and ability of the people to freely and openly dissent, organize and educate, when some of its most experienced leaders are imprisoned and assassinated, it is a real and practical matter.

CONCLUSION

Voting Biden into office is not going to solve all problems — even if he wins the vote, we know from the 2020 election that the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol that followed was only a dress rehearsal, and this time there could be a larger and more serious military coup attempt.   The fight with the right wing is likely to intensify even more after the election.  America will still face major domestic problems (homelessness, drug abuse, health care, education, etc.) and a dangerous international situation.

The reality is that this is a long-term struggle for democracy and against tyranny.  Especially for peoples of color, that battle has gone on for America’s entire history, most often led by African Americans.  It is a continual battle in the history of the world, against the many dictatorships, tyrants and fascists around the globe who must be judged by their deeds regardless of whatever they call their form of government.

BUT if Biden does NOT get enough votes to win the Presidency in this 2024 election, that will send a political message to the right wing and their mass base that they have a mandate to become even more aggressive and destructive.

If we ignore the 2024 presidential election and passively let Biden lose, it means we would be handing over the Presidency to Trump and the right wing extremists/white supremacists without a fight. 

Image from the Democracy Docket.org.

There are many amazing, impressive and positive organizing campaigns going on across the country today, led by thousands of very dedicated activists on a multitude of social justice issues.  Many courageous individuals, including moderate Republicans have stood up to attacks on them by the right wing.  But largely because the news media doesn’t consider it newsworthy to cover them, the public perception is that progressive activity is relatively scattered even invisible outside small local or regional areas.

A very large, loud and unified statement in support of democracy needs to be made — not only to give a message to the right wing but also to rally the spirits of all the people who want democracy in this country.  Defeating Trump at the polls in this election is one important opportunity to make that large and unified statement.

Working to get out the vote for Biden does NOT mean we should lighten up on or stop protesting against the Biden administration’s role in the genocide of Palestinians, or stop protesting for immigrants’ rights, against racist violence or any other social justice issues.   We should not drop any of this work that we are already doing, but we can and should at a minimum incorporate the strong message DEFEAT TRUMP into our existing activities.

Not voting for Biden may not matter so much in blue states where Biden is expected to win anyway.  BUT IT IS IMPERATIVE that we do everything we can to support the local organizations who are doing voter registration/voter education/get-out-the-vote organizing in the swing states — where every single vote will be critical.

 WHAT YOU CAN DO!

  1. a) Donate to or fundraise for Asian Americans 4 Democracy. AA4D is sending funds to Asian Pacific American voter mobilization groups who are already active in 7 swing states:

AA4D website:   www.asianamericans4democracy.org

AA4D donation link:  https://secure.actblue.com/donate/aa4d

  1. b) Join Seed the Vote to volunteer to phone bank or canvass with grassroots groups in the swing states: https://seedthevote.org/

  1. c) Donate to grassroots groups in key states with competitive U.S. Senate and U.S. Congressional races via Movement Voter Project: https://movement.vote/

DEFEAT TRUMP!