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Defeating Trumpism, More to Build


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USA  •  November 12, 2020  •  Bernie Sanders and Chicago Teachers Union

The Struggle is Not Over

Because of your efforts, we have won the most important election in the modern history of our country. As I’ve said many times, this election was not just about Biden vs. Trump and what their views on the issues were. It went much deeper than that. This was an election about whether we end pathological lying in the White House and retain democracy and the rule of law in our country, and thank God, we have done that.

In the days and weeks to come I’m sure that everyone in the world is going to be taking credit for Biden’s victory, and the media and the pundits will have their views. But let me just say this.

In my view, multi-racial, multi-generational progressive grassroots organizations all across this country played an extraordinary role in helping to make this victory possible. We made phone calls, we texted, we registered voters, we did virtual rallies, we distributed literature and we knocked on doors when possible. Knowing the importance of this election we did everything that we could, and more.

Together, we built widespread support for Biden among young people, people of color and the working class. In my view, Biden’s success would not have been possible without those extraordinary efforts.

And I just want to thank you all for what you did.

One of the areas where the progressive movement had real success was getting more and more young people into the voting booth and into the political process. The latest estimates that I have seen show that over 53% of young people ages 18 to 29 voted, which not only eclipses 2016’s turnout rate, but would be the highest youth turnout rate in American history. And those young people voted overwhelmingly for Biden and other Democrats.

In battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia young voters very strongly supported Biden and other Democrats. In Georgia, for example, 90% of young black voters and 62% of young white voters chose Biden over Trump. And that made all the difference not only in winning that state for Biden, but forcing two Republican senators into runoff elections that will determine which party controls the US Senate. One of the candidates in that runoff election is Reverend Raphael Warnock, whom we strongly supported.

Further, the strong economic agenda that the progressive movement fought for helped bring out low-income working people to vote for Biden. National exit polls show that voters with an annual family income under $50,000 voted against Trump by a 15-point margin.

Needless to say, my campaign staff and I were deeply involved in this campaign. Over the last few months we hosted more than 20 virtual rallies, viewed by millions of people, in battleground states as well as special events with young people, rural voters, the Latino community and the Muslim community.

Starting in October, we re-launched some of our very effective organizing work to reach out directly to voters in key battleground states. A dedicated group of staff and volunteers had one-on-one conversations with voters to get them the information they needed to cast their votes in this election. Further, we ended up sending 4.6 million texts across 14 states thanks to the efforts of more than 800 texting volunteers who helped mobilize our movement in support of 75 down-ballot candidates and propositions.

We also played an active role in supporting down-ballot progressive candidates, because we understand that real change comes from the bottom on up. In total, we endorsed more than 200 candidates running for local and state positions. Of those races that have been called, two-thirds of our endorsed candidates won.

It is also worth mentioning that many progressive ballot initiatives passed across the country. In Florida, voters chose to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. Colorado voters passed an initiative to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave. The people of Arizona voted to increase taxes on those making over $250,000 to increase funding for public education.

But now, as we celebrate our victories, we understand that our struggle is not over. It has just begun. We have accomplished step one by defeating Trump. Much more needs to be done.

Not only do we have to win the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia coming up in January so that we can have Democratic control over the US Senate, but we’re going to have to do everything possible to make sure that Congress and the new president move rapidly and aggressively to address the enormous crises facing our country.

In the next several months I will present to the Senate an agenda that I would like to see passed in the first 100 days of the new Congress. This is an agenda that, among many other proposals, will include a strong COVID-19 relief package that protects the unemployed and small businesses.

  • It is an agenda that will end starvation wages in America, make it easier for workers to join unions and provide equal pay for equal work.
  • It is an agenda that will create millions of good-paying jobs as we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
  • It is an agenda that makes health care a human right as we move toward a Medicare for All single-payer system, and an agenda that substantially lowers the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs in this country.
  • It is an agenda that will make it possible for all working class young people to gain a college education without going into debt, and will radically improve our dysfunctional childcare system.
  • It is an agenda that will create millions of good-paying jobs as we lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel.
  • It is an agenda that demands that the wealthy and powerful start paying their fair share of taxes.
  • It is an agenda that will take on the systemic racism that prevails throughout our country and our broken and racist criminal justice system.
  • It is an agenda that will lead to comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship for the undocumented.

Sisters and brothers, we have come a long way in the last five years. But the truth is that we still have an incredible amount of work ahead of us, and the path forward will not be easy.

Let us continue going forward together. Let us continue our struggle to transform this country and create a government based on the principles of justice. •

Bernard Sanders is the junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007. He is the longest serving independent in US congressional history and a member of the Democratic caucus. Sanders ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 and 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

Trump Will Go, But Trump-ism Remains, and it is Trump-ism That Must Be Defeated

Transformation comes with a strong commitment to organizing and coalition work, and we owe Black and Brown grassroots organizers – in every city and state that went overwhelmingly blue – a great debt.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) issued the following statement on November 7, following the election of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris to the offices of president and vice president of the United States.

Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Their victory in this election is not only transformative for our country, but for the Black and Brown voters in Chicago – and in cities like Chicago – who took to polls and used their most powerful lever of change to help restore our country to normalcy.

It was Black enslaved laborers and indigenous peoples who rebuilt the United States following the Revolutionary War, and it is those same individuals who are rebuilding our country following four years of Donald Trump’s war on democracy.

Transformation comes with a strong commitment to organizing and coalition work, and we owe Black and Brown grassroots organizers – in every city and state that went overwhelmingly blue – a great debt. Thank you for seeing what is often unseen by operatives, pundits and party leadership. Thank you for acknowledging the complexity of choosing survival.

Thank you to Black voters, in particular, in cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, and to Brown voters in Arizona and Nevada. You are formidable, and once again, you have demonstrated a commitment to a vision of America that your ancestors have died for, and that we have still not yet realized.

Thank you to the Black voters and voices in our own city who supported President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris – more than 82 per cent of whom also voted yes to Fair Tax and progressive revenue. There is overwhelming support in Chicago for city, county and state budgets that tax wealthy individuals and corporations instead of laying off public workers or imposing more fees and fines on working people. Service cuts, layoffs and punitive fines are the agenda of the white supremacists and billionaires like Ken Griffin, who happily watch poor Black and Brown people suffer, and whom we unequivocally oppose.

Communities of color are the backbone of the Illinois Democratic Party, and they deserve more for their loyalty and investment. The new legislative map must assure better representation, particularly for Black Chicagoans, who have endured school closings, the loss of public housing and scant neighborhood investment at the hands of Democrats, but nonetheless, steadfastly kept Illinois blue.

Democrat leaders in our state must end their bickering over control of the party, and instead, stay focused on putting forth policies will secure the future for their most loyal constituents – the Black residents of our state.

As a union of educators, we look forward to President-elect Biden fulfilling the promises made in his education platform, which include increased funding for low-income special education students, a reduction in standardized testing and an end to charter school expansion. Our communities, which continue to be ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, also need major relief immediately.

The Black and Brown communities that rescued our country from Donald Trump are the same communities where people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, and suffering under the economic effects of this pandemic. Their recovery will require cash payments, rental and mortgage relief, extended unemployment, and medical debt forgiveness.

Our union’s focus remains upholding the values that our educators and the communities they serve hold high and true – anti-racism, fighting for progressive revenue, criminal justice reform and strengthening public education and the public sector. Donald Trump will go, but Donald Trump-ism will remain, because that is rooted in white supremacy and discrimination, which are as old as our country itself. This is what fuels hate, fuels division and fuels big money forces like Griffin who want to close our schools and defund public education.

Unity doesn’t come because we ignore this hate; unity comes because we do the work to confront it and move our city and our country forward. Today we reflect, but tomorrow we get back to work and continue to push our leaders in fighting for the schools our students deserve. •

The Chicago Teachers Union is an organization of educators dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning conditions, and protecting members’ rights.