Defend voting rights!

The former Republican president may be absent from the corporate media these days, but his racist and pro-rich ideas live on in all reactionary political institutions and organizations. This ideology flourishes in the Republican Party’s current assault on the universal right to vote. 

We are well aware of the limitations of elections in capitalist society. In the United States, election winners, even locally, are nearly always from the two major capitalist parties. Big money dominates. The billionaire-owned corporate media enforce pro-capitalist ideology and trash anyone promising even mild social reforms.

The U.S. Constitution itself imposes inequality by disproportionately empowering states with small populations. It traps the presidential contest in the Electoral College. It fills Senate seats with the rich and reactionary. 

Despite these already existing biases, this 2021 Republican-led assault on the right to vote aims to take inequality to a new level. Or better said, to a time before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when not only all the states in the former Confederacy but many others prevented African Americans from voting. To revert to that period, Republicans have introduced 250 measures in 43 states that target Black people and all people of color by placing a minefield between them and the voting booth.

These rights, won in struggle from the post-Civil War era to the Civil Rights Movement, must never be surrendered.  

We must combat this offensive to deny voting rights by fighting to expand the right to vote. This includes rights for incarcerated workers and released workers with felony records, who are disproportionately Black and have been denied their right to vote for years – sometimes for their entire lives.  Migrant workers denied citizenship are also barred from voting.  

The Republican pretext for these anti-voting maneuvers is the Big Lie that electoral fraud cost the last president his reelection. The truth is that Trump was so despised that it was possible to mobilize a greater number of voters to vote against him, even if they mistrusted his opponent. Trump was loathed − with good reason − especially in big cities, especially by Black voters and other voters of color, especially by young people, and in general by people disgusted with his open racism, xenophobia, misogyny and bigotry.

The mobilization of anti-Trump voters flipped states he and the rest of the Republican leadership thought he would win, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, where Republicans narrowly lost both Senate seats in run-off votes.

The Republican leadership, even those who saw no electoral fraud and fought Trump’s Big Lie − like the Georgia Republicans – concluded that their party could only win elections by suppressing votes of Black and Brown people. 

Michael A. Carvin, the lawyer representing the Republican Party of Arizona in its attempt to curtail voting in that state, admitted that voting rights for all “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. … It’s the difference between winning an election 50-49 and losing.” (New York Times, March 3)

Those 250 bills contain various measures to disenfranchise oppressed communities. They limit early voting, restrict voting on Sundays because Black churches often organize the congregation to go vote together, restrict the number of voting centers to make it inconvenient in cities with large Black communities, impose a modern version of the “literacy test” that rejected Black voters in the pre-1965 South, forbid voting centers on college campuses, etc.

It is uncertain what energy the Democratic Party leadership, including Joe Biden, will invest to prevent this Republican assault. Democrats have introduced a new voting rights bill in Congress, but Republicans promise to block it in the Senate with a filibuster. In the past, the Democrats who control the party have avoided waging an all-out struggle to extend voting rights to the most oppressed – because that would strengthen the left wing of their own party.

Unlike the Democratic Party, working-class and revolutionary organizations have a duty to defend the rights of the most oppressed and exploited sectors of the population, whether it’s the right to organize unions, to form tenant organizations, to support movements to defend civil rights, or to mobilize the vote.  This duty amounts to significant anti-racist solidarity to help strengthen class unity.  

Smash the attack on voting rights!

Extend the right to vote to all!

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