2016 Election Journal

Election Journal: Day +3

What is there left to say? What is there left to do? How did this happen?

It certainly was not the doing of one man, or one election. Trump is the result of years of right-wing resentment and organizing. A lesson we cannot afford to ignore.

It started with the Tea Party. Led by Obama, the Democrats took the White House, Senate, and House in 2008. In 2010 the Tea Party wave danced with racist ideals like birtherism and brought right-wing fringe anti-establishment people such as Congressman Yoho into the fold (background on the Tea-Party). These guys caused a lot of headache for the Republican establishment but were thought of as a necessary faction of the party to win the White House in 2012. The Obama team won though. The Republican Party took a long hard look at itself and decided that they need to appeal to more minority voters. Their plan was to bring in conservative Latinos with “traditional values” via immigration reform. It might have worked, but the Tea Party blocked these efforts as they made their move for power in 2014 and effectively took over the party in 2016.

When you dance with the devil; the devil leads. Every time.

But it wasn’t taxes or Obamacare that united the new wing of the Republican party. It was white fear. When Trump talked about building a wall, deporting people, being politically correct, etc. it resonated because white people feel threatened. Their perceived place in society is being challenged. Most Trump voters think life was better 50 years ago while most Clinton voters think it’s better now (pew poll). The 60’s were the good ol’ days… for white people. Segregated fountains and schools. Leave it to Beaver on the air. Cross burnings every Saturday.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. But every goddamned racist voted for Trump. How many votes was that? Enough to put a racist in the White House.

Clinton lost Florida by some 120,000 votes with 74% Turnout. Obama won Florida in 2012 by some 75,000 votes with 72% turnout.

I haven’t gotten too into the numbers yet but I think the main reason Florida went to Trump is because North Florida was ignored. I-4 and SE Florida did their part but there was nothing happening in North Florida to stop Trump from running up the numbers. A last minute push in Duval County made them perform better than Obama in ’12 but it wasn’t enough. The same thing happened in 2010 and 2014 in Florida. Conservative democratic candidates don’t appeal to North Florida voters.

But  that’s just part of the story. White fear didn’t find an outlet in the Democratic party. The Dems pushed Clinton down our throats which alienated the progressive wing during an anti-establishment year. People of Color, especially African American youth were reluctant to vote for a woman who called them super predators two decades before. Hell, white union workers in the rustbelt remembered the Clinton role in NAFTA and voted against their union!

But in all Clinton lost because of her and the Democratic party. The ground game, data, etc. was all right on point but what can you do when the candidate is flat? When the party doesn’t speak to the working class? A major lesson here is that fear against an opponent is not enough.

The Democratic party needs to be taken apart and put back together or abandoned as an avenue of struggle. I’ve been asked by a lot of people what the next steps are. It’s simple: Organize and resist.

Some people are going to go into their Democratic Executive Committee’s and try to fix them. Good on you. Please send us progressive candidates to vote for as opposed to moderates who are only slightly better than the Republicans.

But for most of us the work will be about grassroots resistance to the Trump agenda. It will be about doing all we can to stop his backwards march of racism, attacks on the environment, and roll backs to worker protections. It’ll be about street marches and soft locks, bodies in the streets to stop deportations, resist police brutality. and clog up his rabid brand of capitalism. We’re going to make the GOP scream. And when we’re done, we’ll have a diverse coalition of working class people that’ll be unstoppable.

Election Journal: Day 0

In less than 24 hours this election will be done (barring a recount).

I had to make a tough call today. I’ll have maybe 25 people working for labor tomorrow and had to calculate the validity of a KKK threat at polling locations. Just rumors, nothing credible.

But how many people do I take off the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations to run voter protection programs? Every person I take off  GOTV means a couple dozen voters missed. Am I diverting resources chasing ghosts? Is that what they want?

Do I want to send people to these polling locations despite even the slightest chance there could be a confrontation, or even violence?

I shouldn’t have to be dealing with this shit. It’s 2016 and I’m trying figure out how these ass-hats can still intimidate voters like it 1956.

Oy vey. Go fucking vote already. You’ve been called a thousand times and told to vote. Hell, even Queen Bee told you to vote. Here’s a voting guide to help. Need a ride to the polls? Call the NAACP at 352-870-7013. Message or call me if you need to know where to vote. Just go vote already so we can get on with pushing these shit politics like voter intimidation back into the trashcan of history, where they belong.

Election Journal: Day -4:

We knocked on nearly 4,000 doors with 140 canvass shifts this week.

We had 2 canvassers called racial slurs in Western Alachua County. While not unexpected it is disappointing and embarrassing.

There are three pillars to win an election in Florida:
1) Have a big turn out in SE Florida. Using this strategy alone cost Crist the governorship in 2014.
2) Engage the Latinx vote in the I-4 corridor. The new Puerto Rican residents, if they vote, could carry the state.
3) Contain the dumpster fire that is North Florida.

Pillar three is the weakest and most apt to crumble. The amount of time and resources spent on 1 and 2 is understandable but alone probably won’t be enough to carry the state. Over the last month my team has been begging for resources and people from everyone we could think of. Union presidents, old friends in different states… everyone.

One leader told me “I can’t send my people to Klan county”.

Another one said “let Trump take North Florida, we’ll take Central and South”.

I refuse to cede anything to Trump or the Klan.

I understand the sentiment that we’re just some backwards fools that need to be left to our own demise. I get it. But progressives in the South know that operating in this area tempers us. It’s hard, hard work. It’s discouraging at times but it’s important work that empowers communities under attack.

We’re running voter protection programs.

We’re going through the gauntlet to knock on doors everyone else has forgotten about.

We’re containing the dumpster fire the best we can.

And after this election mess dies down we’re going to keep building the progressive movement that pushes these backwards politics to the fringes where they belong.

Election Journal: Day -7:

I ran a canvass today in Palatka – precinct 39. It’s a predominately African American district in a gentrifying neighborhood. The first 4 houses I went to said they couldn’t vote because they’re felons. Outside the 5th house a group were sitting around, playing dominoes when I was asked to leave the neighborhood. Not because I’m a white dude in the black part of town but because “we’re all felons here, you’re in the hood” and that “they done forgot about us, go somewhere that still matters”.

Fuck. Heart. Broken. I remember when Gov. Scott stopped the automatic restoration of rights. Elections have consequences.

I go on and the houses get nicer. More middle class African American households. Talk to a few people. Get them rides to the polls. Talk a black Sanders supporter out of voting for Trump and for Clinton or Stein. I’m being followed.

A white lady wants to know what I’m doing. She owns a business nearby and wants to know if I’m helping with the voter fraud. We talk for a little and she tells me how Clinton has killed people. How she’s a closeted homosexual. How she is using mind control. I bit. I ask her “if she can use mind control then why is she having trouble in the polls right now”.

Her response. “It doesn’t work so well on white people.”

Rage headache. FEC compliance report. A beer with my wife. Prep walk packets for tomorrow. Staff a phone bank. Organize snacks for 29 release staff. 7 days.

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