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Resisting Trumpism and protecting the vote: How Americans are preparing for November 3rd and beyond

Virginia Rodino

October 30, 2020

Fueled by the power of the youth-led movements for Black Lives and climate justice as well as the general antipathy to Trump, Americans are not resting on their laurels in the days leading to the presidential election on November 3. Instead there is huge momentum for building protests in the streets to preserve the democratic tools we currently have and build toward true change beyond politicians and political parties. On October 8 the 70,000 member Rochester AFL-CIO Labor Council became the first regional AFL-CIO body in the United States to call for a General Strike if Trump does not respect the outcome of this year’s election:

“Therefore, now be it resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO, stands firmly in opposition to any effort to subvert, distort, misrepresent or disregard the final outcome of the 2020 Presidential elections.”

Rochester AFL-CIO President Dan Maloney, who in the fall of 2019 helped lead a 6-week-long strike at GM in Rochester, said the Council hoped the resolution would spark a national conversation. 

A few nights later the representative assembly of the Seattle Educators Association (SEA) passed a resolution stating that its board will call an emergency meeting within seven days of the election and, if it determines there has been election interference, call a meeting of the representative and general assemblies as soon as possible to vote on a work action.

Days later, the 100,000-member MLK Labor Council, an AFL-CIO regional body of labor groups representing more than 150 unions in the Seattle, Washington, area, passed a resolution that calls for a general strike if President Donald Trump does not respect the outcome of the November 3 election:

“MLK Labor will call on to City and County governments to pledge to protect the protesters defending democracy and commit to not using police action or curfews to curtail these activities and to use all available resources to stand up against any effort by the Trump administration to steal the election. MLK Labor, in collaboration with other labor and progressive forces, will take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary up to and including a general strike to protect our democracy, the Constitution, the law and our nation’s democratic traditions.”

In Detroit, Michigan, union activists with the American Postal Workers Union created a flyer with a pledge to take to the streets and shut the country down if necessary to prevent a coup. Members printed more than 1,000 copies of a shortened version of the pledge on the union’s letterhead to distribute at post offices and the area’s main sorting plant.

On Monday, the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation also approved a resolution calling for a general strike and pledging to take nonviolent action to defend the democratic process “if Donald Trump and his GOP enablers attempt to obstruct, subvert, sabotage, overturn or reject a fair and complete count of presidential ballots.”

On September 21 the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project and the Working Families Party launched The Frontline, an initiative aiming to ‘forge a Black-led, multiracial coalition that can carry forward the energy of the uprising – “the largest social movement in U.S. history” – in both electoral and non-electoral forms’: 

“We are part of The Frontline because our lives and the lives of the people that we love depend on us fighting with everything we’ve got to overthrow the Trumpism, the white supremacy, the white nationalism – all the harm that is being done by this administration to our communities. We are committed, not to fighting for a savior on Pennsylvania Avenue, but to fighting for our next target. And we will come as hard at the new administration that we hope will follow the Trump administration as we are at Trump right now,” stated Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the M4BL Electoral Justice Project.

A coalition that includes Veterans For Peace, The Nation magazine, Courage to Resist and others have launched a petition calling for Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to unequivocally refuse to obey any order from President Trump related to the upcoming election, stating simply: “You have a legal, constitutional, and moral responsibility to refuse to comply with any and all attempts by President Trump to interfere with the 2020 presidential election.”

In the event that Donald Trump loses the election and refuses to concede, the Protect the Results coalition is promising to “activate their members and take coordinated action to protect our democracy.” Members include groups like Stand Up America, Indivisible, Communication Workers of America, MoveOn, Black Lives Matter, Jobs with Justice, NARAL, SEIU, Peace Action and the Sierra Club.  

Leading up to the election, the Protect the Results coalition is building a grass-roots network now that can be mobilized if a “nightmare scenario does materialize, to immediately put a big show of force into the streets to push back.” They are planning for thousands of local protests across the country, mobilizing millions if the legitimate results of the election are undermined.

Philadelphia, PA, is just one example of a major city mobilizing to defend the votes and protect the results, with dozens of Philadelphian progressive organizations planning “mass action” and preparing protests for the days after the Nov. 3 election in the event of coordinated voter intimidation, mail-in ballot invalidation, or other electoral discord.

And in California, there is a statewide day of action for immigrant justice being planned on November 14. Recognizing the power of ordinary people in the streets, organizers are insisting, “We’re not waiting to see whether the president or representatives or mayors (i.e. whoever gets elected) will do anything to forward abolition and assist migrants. We know that neither the Dems nor the Republicans will ever #freethemall#abolishice #closethecamps #abolishthepolice unless we make them!” 

No matter who wins the presidential election, Californians are demanding freedom for every last person currently being held in detention.

Whatever happens shortly with the U.S. elections, ordinary Americans remain mobilized in their unions and their neighborhoods to continue fighting for a country that truly embodies freedom and democracy for all.

Virginiia Rodino is a member of Marx21 in the US. She will be speaking on a zoom forum, What Next For The Left After The US Election, Sunday November 8, 4 pm EST, 1 pm PST

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