For a democracy to be worthy of the word, it must include us all. And this election season, we have already seen young people, Black people and people struggling to make ends meet face unacceptable barriers to exercise their most basic rights as Americans. But we also saw those voters overcome them — and in record numbers. By all accounts, turnout is going to be off the charts.
This has been a traumatic year. A global pandemic, an economic collapse, Black folks killed by police, white nationalist violence, and record wildfires. So it’s understandable if this year — and if today’s Election — has left you overwhelmed or anxious. You are not alone.
But I want to tell you one thing with full confidence: if everyone is allowed to vote and every vote is counted, Donald Trump will be defeated.
When you arrive at the polls, you will see neighbors united in fierce resolve to end this era, and to elect leaders who are committed to tackling the crises we’ve faced this year — making government work for ordinary people of all races.
When you arrive at the polls you may encounter lines. Long lines are no badge of honor, and they’re not required in a democracy; in fact they’re a failure. They make it harder to vote, especially for working people. And no surprise, Black folks face the longest lines. You may also encounter short lines if lots of people in your community voted early or by mail.
And if you’re waiting in a line, you may also encounter joy. Millions of people watched Philadelphians do the cha-cha slide while they waited at early vote centers last week. Today, dozens of musicians are going to engage in pop-up concerts at polling places across America.
To be clear: this could be a long fight. We don’t know exactly how November 3rd and the days that follow will play out. Trump will certainly try to invalidate legitimate ballots, as he’s already threatened to do. He may even declare victory as the votes roll in tonight.
But the votes counted on election night won’t tell the whole story. Since Biden encouraged his supporters to vote early and Trump cast doubts about voting by mail, votes cast on election night might favor Trump while those cast beforehand certainly favor Biden. Since Trump has already made it clear he will claim an early victory no matter the results, we must be prepared to insist on the democratic rights of every person to elect a President — and march if we need to, in order to confirm the will of the people.
Don’t get scared. Pay attention to local election officials and insist on your right to be counted.
And even if we win, the work can’t stop. In fact, we’re just getting started. Joe Biden is a doorway, not a destination. This year was full of crises, and Trump ignored each one or made them much worse. If Biden is elected, it will be because we the people called on him to tackle those crises with solutions big enough to meet their scale.
To be clear: this could be a long fight. We don’t know exactly how November 3rd and the days that follow will play out.
This year the people have shown their power again and again. More than 20 million Americans of every race took to the streets to defend Black lives. Justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more. Amid a pandemic that saw Black folks getting the sickest, and throughout depression-level unemployment, people showed up. We did it bydrawing from our long history of power building and channeling the righteous anger and momentum of the streets to build Black power for the 2020 elections and far beyond.
We saw uprisings in every state. We saw tangible progress towards cities reducing the power of police. We saw the election of transformative leaders like Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush and dozens of candidates up and down the ballot speaking out loudly for justice for Black folks. It’s proof that we are changing politics with our movements.
At a time of historic crisis and opportunity, Black people are at the forefront of the fight to make life better for each and every one of us. So while there is no question in my mind that if and when every vote is counted, our movements will win, there is also no doubt in my mind that Joe Biden’s inauguration is only the start of a new chapter of our struggle for justice.
Together, we’ll end the Trump presidency. Together, if necessary, we’ll take to the streets and demand a real democracy. Together, we’ll then rally around visionary new policies to address our current state of crisis — a new vision for COVID relief, jobs and healthcare for all, police reform, and bold action to address present and future crises, including the climate crisis. You can read more about our vision at the Working Families Party’s People’s Charter.
Organizing people around the promise of something better – that’s how we defend the results and win not just this election, but the nation and the world we deserve.
Nelini Stamp is the director of strategy and partnerships at the Working Families Party.