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Black Lives Matter Isn’t Going to Just ‘Shut Up and Vote’ for Kamala Harris

When Cat Brooks casts her vote for president in about 80 days, the Oakland, California-based organizer and former Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed candidate for mayor will vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — without joy or enthusiasm.

“I’m not a fan of Kamala Harris,” Brooks said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Biden named the California senator and former state attorney general as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee.

“I’m not a fan of how she treated the families of victims of police violence, I’m not a fan of how she failed to keep police accountable for violence,” she added. “I’m frustrated that once again, as a Black woman, I don’t get to walk into the voting booth excited, and I have to choose the lesser of two evils.”

Moderate modern-day civil rights movements like the Poor People’s Campaign, co-founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have warmly welcomed Harris’s nomination as an historic moment that reflects real opportunity. And even some militant and far-left organizers and activists recognize in Harris at least a chance of meaningful reform.

But Brooks’ attitude reflects a feeling common among many other activists working on defunding the police, de-incarceration, and other racial-justice reforms under the broad umbrella of the Black Lives Matter coalition — including many who took to the streets after George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Barring an unforeseen turnaround, Harris’ critics from the left, some of whom maintain that the former prosecutor’s embrace of her background as a “top cop” is a disqualifying, will go to the polls and cast reluctant votes for the Biden-Harris ticket without volunteering for the campaign or offering much vocal support. And that may be a best-case scenario.

Harris’ record as a prosecutor is complicated. She was one of the first to support drug-diversion offenders and risked her career by refusing to pursue the death penalty for a cop-killer. She’s also the “top cop” who refused to prosecute police implicated in their own killings, fought to uphold the death penalty, and oversaw wrongful prosecutions she’s yet to explain.

Restorative justice is all about second chances, and some believe Harris deserves hers. Some of the people declaring “Kamala is a cop” and refusing to support the ticket “are the same people saying they believe in restorative justice,” said Dorsey Nunn, a formerly incarcerated man who now serves as executive director Legal Services for Prisoners With Children.

Nunn was one of the organizers of a first-of-its-kind candidates’ town hall last fall, held in the old Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, moderated by former prisoners. Harris made headlines a few months earlier for skewering Joe Biden, her future running mate, over his coauthoring of the 1994 crime bill — one key decision that, scholars argue, filled prisons with Black people and undid many of the Civil Rights Movement’s victories.

Coming to prison, to face the kind of people she’d put there, meant Harris risked the same treatment. Harris was one of only three candidates to attend. “She showed up in a way that other people don’t show up,” Nunn said. “That was worth something.”

What might also be worth something would be some outreach from the Biden-Harris campaign to critics working in criminal-justice reform, or some honest reckoning with Harris’ record. Yet so far, Harris has not demonstrated much interest in rapprochement with her left critics.

In her first speech as Biden’s running mate, Harris did not mention George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or any victims of police violence. She offered a nod to the “people of every age and color and creed who are finally declaring in one voice that yes, black lives matter,” but also embraced her prosecutorial record, boasting that she’d taken on drug cartels and human traffickers.

While Harris is progressive by most district attorneys’ standards, she was regressive and pro-police often enough to not deserve her self-applied  label as a “progressive prosecutor,” as University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year. She fought to uphold the death penalty, and also demonstrated a tendency to push bad cases, like the wrongful prosecution of San Francisco actor and musician Jamal Trulove. Using bad evidence ginned up by police, Harris’ DA office sent Trulove to prison for a murder he did not commit, a mistake that later cost taxpayers $13 million in a civil rights settlement.

Trulove offered his own endorsement of his former persecutor via Instagram on Thursday, but, like Brooks and others, he couched it as more anti-Trump than pro-Harris. “My reservations with her are not bigger than this election,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to fall into that Trump trick bag, and I suggest you don’t either. Y’all make sure man y’all going to rock the vote for Biden and for Kamala.”

If Harris would account for these missteps, she might win over skeptics like Brooks.

“She could apologize to the families of hundreds of victims of police violence murdered on her watch. She could do that.”

“She could apologize,” Brooks said. “She could say, ‘I was wrong.’ She could apologize to the families of hundreds of victims of police violence murdered on her watch. She could do that.”

None of these critiques can be news to the Biden and Harris campaign, but activists and academics contacted for this article were unaware of any outreach to the more radical segments of the Black Lives Matter movement, even though Harris spent more than a year running for president and months as a VP pick-in-waiting.

“I personally haven’t heard of any dedicated outreach from Kamala Harris or her circle to left critics and organizers doing the work on police and prisons,” said Shanti Singh, a San Francisco-based tenant organizer who worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign (and on successful police-reform campaigns before that).

“They’re just telling us to shut up and vote for them,” Singh added. “I doubt Kamala’s approach will break that mold.”

At the same time, a Biden-Harris ticket represents the best opportunity to enact meaningful criminal-justice reform, particularly if Democrats also manage to break the deadlock in the Senate. “This could be her big moment, to be the face of criminal justice reform on the national stage,” said USF’s Bazelon. “I want her to take to Washington people who are truly progressive and pushing the envelope — not the same old centrist cast of former DAs and U.S. attorneys.”

If Harris plans to do that, she hasn’t said so publicly. Lurking in the ambiguity is the specter of the past. If Joe Biden built prisons as the crime bill’s energetic author, Kamala Harris eagerly filled them. That is not something reform advocates will ever forget.

“I personally don’t feel very enthusiastic about seeing Kamala Harris on the ballot,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, the Los Angeles-based cofounder of Initiate Justice, which organizes prison inmates and their family members. “She’s a self-described progressive prosecutor, but those of us who are progressive [prison] abolitionists are very disappointed in her.”

And so the Biden-Harris campaign appears poised to march toward November without the energy or the enthusiasm of this summer’s mass marches. If Harris pivots again toward the center, and the tough-on-crime top cop appears again, the ticket may be lucky just to get votes.

“I don’t plan on knocking on any doors, and I don’t know of any activist organizers planning on doing any active campaign work,” Vargas-Edmond said. “I don’t really know of anyone excited about this.”

CORRECTION Aug. 15, 2020, 2:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Sen. Kamala Harris did not say “Black lives matter.” According to a transcript of her speech, Harris said: “People of every age and color and creed who are finally declaring in one voice that yes, Black lives matter.”

Cover: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris delivers remarks after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden spoke on August 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Democrats to open convention like no other as Biden’s big party goes virtual

Forget the balloon-drops, backslapping and cheering crowds: This year’s Democratic National Convention, beginning Monday, will be an almost entirely virtual event, as the party faithful gather around computer screens and TVs to celebrate Joe Biden as their presidential nominee.

Originally scheduled as an in-person event in Milwaukee, the convention has instead changed to something resembling a four-day Zoom
ZM,
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meeting thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden will accept the nomination on Thursday from his home state of Delaware, and speakers including vice-presidential pick Kamala Harris and party stars like Bill Clinton and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be addressing fellow Democrats via video instead of onstage in Wisconsin.

But voters and investors will find plenty to chew on from four nights of prime-time speeches, including how Biden attempts to unite progressives and establishment Democrats and how he might further detail economic policies.

The event’s speaking schedule is a nod to Biden’s effort to bring a disparate party together. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who battled Biden for the nomination, has been given a speaking spot, as has fellow progressive Ocasio-Cortez.

See:The Obamas, AOC and Kamala Harris: Here’s who’s speaking to the Democratic convention and when.

“I think the progressives are going to fall into line because they just want to defeat [President Donald] Trump,” said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political scientist at Widener University in Pennsylvania.

Biden’s task for his speech is to project a “competency and presidential air that shows that he can unite the country,” Leckrone said.

Trailing Biden in national and swing-state polls as well as betting markets, Trump is attacking the former vice president as beholden to the left of his party, as exemplified by the likes of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. That’s despite Biden’s rejection of policies like Medicare for All, which Sanders championed.

Trump has charged that the Biden-Harris ticket could sink stock markets
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and the economy — though at least one analyst has said that it’s a Democratic sweep of the White House and Congress that would be best for the economy in the long run. Wall Street, what’s more, was reassured by Biden’s pick of Harris over a more-liberal vice-presidential contender such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Now read:A Biden-Harris sweep would be best for economy, says Fidelity International.

Biden’s policy proposals include expanding Obamacare by offering a public-insurance option; increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; spending $2 trillion over four years on clean-energy projects; and free COVID-19 testing.

Also read:Joe Biden wants a $15 minimum wage — will the coronavirus pandemic make that more likely?

John Briggs, head of strategy, Americas, for NatWest Markets, told MarketWatch that he’ll be listening for more clues about Biden’s regulatory agenda.

“Part of the boost to the economy early in Trump’s administration was not just the tax cuts, but the big drop in regulation,” said Briggs, “along with just the general tone from the top on business.”

“I’m going to be looking for things like, does [Biden] sound like he’s moving far into re-imposing a lot of regulations?” he said.

U.S. stocks
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have rebounded since their March lows. At the same time, however, millions of Americans are out of work as the coronavirus continues to pound the economy, with U.S. unemployment remaining at more than 10%.

Such grim statistics give Biden an opening, says Leckrone.

“The economy — that was what Trump had going for him before all this started,” Leckrone said. “But now, [Biden] can start reaching out and saying, ‘I know what you’re going through right now, I grew up in that environment, and we’re going to build back.’” Biden frequently references his middle-class upbringing, and called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy” when he announced her as his running mate.

Democratic-convention speakers will give remarks each night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern.

Republicans will re-nominate Trump during the week of Aug. 24, and the president is planning his acceptance speech for Aug. 27.

Also see:Trump says his executive actions led to stock market’s gain.

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COVID-19 Stimulus Check: Retroactive Payments of $50,000 Could Happen


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Senator Kamala Harris has advocated for $2,000 per month in stimulus money for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some American families will receive retroactive payments in the tens of thousands of dollars if the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act stimulus plan makes it through Congress. The bill was introduced in May by Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey. It proposes monthly recurring payments to Americans until the coronavirus pandemic is over — and it also promises retroactive payments back to March, when the pandemic began. Now that Harris is Biden’s running mate for the presidency, this proposal could begin to pick up more momentum.

According to the act’s one-pager, the proposal would send $2,000 per month to individuals and $4,000 to married couples who file jointly, along with an additional $2,000 per child, up to three children. Any individual earning under $120,000 would be eligible; the payments would be reduced for income over $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for married couples. The payments are phased out by 10% of any amount over these limits.

Markey confirmed in August that the retroactive nature of this bill still applies, many months later. He tweeted, “My bill with @kamalaharris and @berniesanders to give everyone $2,000/month until the end of this crisis (and 3 months after) is retroactive to March. Working families deserve this money. Let’s get that $12,000 into their pockets ASAP, and then keep the money flowing.”

This means that a family of five could receive a first monthly payment of over $50,000 if the plan passes. An individual could receive over $12,000 in their first payment if their annual income is below $100,000.

Here’s what you need to know:


How Retroactive Payments Would Work in This Stimulus Plan

The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act is notable for more reasons than the notion of recurring monthly payments. In particular, it would provide these payments both retroactively and into the future: eligible Americans would receive their monthly amount “retroactively,” meaning that they would receive $2,000 a month (or whatever they are eligible for) for every month that has passed since the pandemic began in March. It’s not clear if they’d receive this retroactive sum in a single lump payment, or if it would be divided in some manner over a period of time.

In addition, Americans would receive checks until three months after the pandemic is “over.” None of the senators involved in this proposal have clarified what factors, economic or otherwise, would determine the “end” of the pandemic.

The current atmosphere in Congress is not friendly to the idea of monthly recurring payments for the American people. Republican and Democratic lawmakers haven’t yet been able to compromise on the details of the HEALS Act, and that proposal would provide much less financial support to the American people. The dollar figure for this stimulus plan is estimated to be at $5.7 trillion, Forbes reports; in comparison, the CARES Act, which offered stimulus payments and many other forms of economic relief in March, cost about $2 trillion.

However, Biden’s decision to make Harris his running mate means that this plan could very well pass in Congress after November, if Biden wins the presidency, and if the Senate goes blue.

As for eligibility, here is who would be eligible for the highest payment: a married couple with a combined income of $200,000 or less with three or more children would receive $10,000 a month, as well as the retroactive payment of $50,000, or more. They would not have to have Social Security numbers or to have filed a tax return recently, both stipulations that were requirements in the first round of stimulus payments. Debtors would also be barred from collecting any of this money for repayments.


What Does Biden Think of Monthly Stimulus Payments? Does He Support This Plan?

Though Biden has selected Harris as his running mate, he has kept particularly tight-lipped regarding where he stands on economic relief during the pandemic. Officially, per his website, he has mandated that he would do the following things to remedy the pandemic-induced crisis in America:

  • Provide another stimulus check “should conditions require”
  • Forgive $10,000 per person of federal student loans, minimum
  • Increase monthly Social Security checks by $200 each
  • Offer emergency paid sick leave to every American worker
  • Ensure that no one has to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, treatment, or any future relevant vaccine
  • Provide “all necessary fiscal relief”

Biden has not been specific, regarding the amount, eligibility, or frequency of future stimulus payments. His silence inspired hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition demanding he publicly endorse a plan like Harris’ that would provide a form of universal basic income until the crisis is over. As of August 16, the petition has over 373,000 signatures.

 

READ NEXT: COVID-19 Symptoms: Is Hair Loss a Symptom of Coronavirus?


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Biden Promises a Return to the Obama Era. That’s Bad…

Joe Biden is run­ning a cam­paign of restora­tion. The pre­sump­tive Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee nev­er tires of say­ing he wants to restore the soul of the nation,” or of invok­ing his time as vice-pres­i­dent under Barack Obama.

The Biden campaign’s throwback plan on Israel is most evident in how it approaches the over $3 billion in military aid the United States sends to Israel every year.

It’s com­fort­ing rhetoric for many Democ­rats, a way to dream about return­ing to a time before Don­ald Trump.

But for Pales­tini­ans and their allies, Biden’s plan to return Amer­i­ca to the Oba­ma era is a fright­en­ing prospect. With few ques­tions asked, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion armed Israel and blocked efforts to hold Israel account­able in inter­na­tion­al forums. A Biden pres­i­den­cy promis­es to fol­low the same path on Pales­tine — and Pales­tini­ans will pay the price.

Amid his nos­tal­gic cam­paign, Biden has man­aged to promise some change: He’s pledged to invest near­ly $2 tril­lion to com­bat cli­mate change, backed some crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms and says he wants the min­i­mum wage to be raised to $15 an hour.

But on U.S. pol­i­cy towards Israel-Pales­tine, Biden has giv­en no indi­ca­tion he would change a thing from his pre­vi­ous time in the exec­u­tive branch.

Biden wants to reverse some of the Trump administration’s attacks on Pales­tini­ans by restor­ing human­i­tar­i­an aid and secu­ri­ty assis­tance to Palestinians.

He would also stick to the long-stand­ing Wash­ing­ton con­sen­sus on Israel: back nego­ti­a­tions between Pales­tini­ans and Israelis to reach a two-state solu­tion and rhetor­i­cal­ly oppose Israeli set­tle­ment activ­i­ty, but nev­er sanc­tion Israel for its theft of Pales­tin­ian land.

Biden will con­tin­ue to let Israel do what it wants and at the same time sug­ar-coat it — he’s a wolf in sheep’s cloth­ing,” said Huwai­da Arraf, a Pales­tin­ian-Amer­i­can human rights attor­ney and Bernie Sanders del­e­gate to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion. Under the guise of a peace process, he’ll blame the Pales­tini­ans while hor­rors are being com­mit­ted by Israel.”

The Biden campaign’s throw­back plan on Israel is most evi­dent in how it approach­es the over $3 bil­lion in mil­i­tary aid the Unit­ed States sends to Israel every year.

Through­out the 2020 cam­paign sea­son, pro­gres­sives have called on can­di­dates to endorse con­di­tion­ing U.S. mil­i­tary aid to Israel. Such a pol­i­cy would bar Israel from using U.S. mil­i­tary fund­ing to car­ry out demo­li­tions of Pales­tin­ian homes and arrests of Pales­tin­ian chil­dren. Biden, how­ev­er, called the idea of con­di­tion­ing aid bizarre.”

Instead, Biden has pledged to uphold the Oba­ma administration’s com­mit­ment to giv­ing Israel $38 bil­lion in mil­i­tary aid over the next decade with no strings attached. The U.S. weapons Israel buys with that mon­ey go towards bomb­ing Gaza, the coastal enclave under a dev­as­tat­ing Israeli block­ade, and main­tain­ing Israel’s vio­lent mil­i­tary rule over mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans. Dur­ing Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, U.S.-made Hell­fire mis­siles, artillery shells and Mark 84 bombs killed scores of Pales­tin­ian civil­ians in Gaza.

The Biden cam­paign has also pledged to block UN efforts to hold Israel account­able. This cam­paign plank, too, is noth­ing new: In 2009, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion stopped efforts to refer the find­ings of the UN Gold­stone Report, which found Israel com­mit­ted war crimes in its 2009 war in Gaza, to the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court. In 2011, Susan Rice, Obama’s ambas­sador to the UN — and today a lead­ing con­tender to be Biden’s vice-pres­i­dent—vetoed a UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Israeli set­tle­ments built on Pales­tin­ian land.

But it’s not just Biden’s pol­i­cy pledges that promise more of the same destruc­tive poli­cies on Israel. It’s also his advisers.

His chief for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er is Tony Blinken, Biden’s for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er and a for­mer Deputy Sec­re­tary of State. Blinken was part of the State Depart­ment team that helped nego­ti­ate the 2016 Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing that com­mit­ted the Unit­ed States to send­ing bil­lions in mil­i­tary aid to Israel. The Biden cam­paign has dis­patched Blinken as an emis­sary to explain Biden’s Israel posi­tions. In a July call with Arab-Amer­i­can activists, Blinken said Biden oppos­es any effort to dele­git­imize or unfair­ly sin­gle out Israel, whether it’s at the Unit­ed Nations or through the BDS move­ment.” Dur­ing a May call with Demo­c­ra­t­ic Major­i­ty for Israel, an AIPAC-linked lob­by group com­mit­ted to stop­ping pro­gres­sives from chang­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty pol­i­cy on Israel, Blinken said Biden would nev­er con­di­tion U.S. mil­i­tary aid to Israel.

It’s not only Blinken who has Pales­tin­ian rights activists dis­s­a­point­ed. Two Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures, for­mer U.S. ambas­sador to Israel Dan Shapiro and for­mer Under­sec­re­tary of State Wendy Sher­man, played key roles in draft­ing the DNC plat­form lan­guage on Israel. The result was ugly: The plat­form did not men­tion the words Israeli occu­pa­tion” and endorsed the Oba­ma administration’s mil­i­tary aid agree­ment with Israel. The DNC also reject­ed amend­ments to the plat­form lan­guage that called on the Unit­ed States to con­di­tion aid to Israel so that US mon­ey doesn’t sub­si­dize Israeli human rights abuses.

But while the Biden cam­paign isn’t giv­ing Pales­tin­ian rights activists a rea­son to cheer, their out­look isn’t all grim. If Biden wins the White House, he will be con­fronting a slow­ly-grow­ing pro­gres­sive bloc of law­mak­ers who do want to con­di­tion U.S. mil­i­tary aid to Israel.

That is where the hope is, if we con­tin­ue to elect pro­gres­sives into offices that are going to help change the debate,” said Arraf, the Pales­tin­ian-Amer­i­can human rights lawyer.

In June, as fears grew about Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu’s plan to for­mal­ly annex West Bank set­tle­ments to Israel, 13 law­mak­ers, led by Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez (D‑N.Y.), signed a let­ter pledg­ing to with­hold some US mil­i­tary aid if Israel car­ries out annex­a­tion. It also warned that annex­a­tion would lead to Israel becom­ing an apartheid state,” unusu­al­ly strong lan­guage from Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Congress.

The let­ter was a sign of how embold­ened pro­gres­sives are becom­ing on Israel. If there’s one thing that’s clear about a Biden White House, it’s that he will do his best not to fol­low these pro­gres­sives’ lead. But a clash over U.S. fund­ing of Israeli human rights abus­es may come any­way. The Biden White House will have to con­tend with a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty that doesn’t take its cues from Oba­ma-aligned Democ­rats. Pro­gres­sives will be look­ing to see if Biden can be forced to change.

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Want Progressive U.S. Politics? Continue to Reform the Democratic Party Rules – There would be far more elected officials like Jamaal Bowman and AOC, if New York complied with the new Party reforms.

On July 30, the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee voted unanimously to keep in place the small-d democratic reforms that grew out of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Those changes in the rules govern this year’s convention, and now, as a result of the unanimous vote, they will govern the 2024 convention as well, once officially adopted by the full convention on August 17.

Those vital reforms were based on the work of the Unity Reform Commission, of which I was vice-chair, representing the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

I was also one of the sponsors on the Rules Committee of the proposal to continue the reforms through 2024, and yet, in late July, I feared it was a lost cause. But Sen. Sanders focused his own and his team’s efforts on passing the proposal, and 39 state party chairs endorsed it. Joe Biden’s campaign responded well to those efforts and what became the “Unity Resolution” was ultimately adopted by the Rules Committee 173-0.

This is significant because if the proposal had not been adopted, it would have been up to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to decide whether or not to adopt these rules in 2024. Since members of the DNC are superdelegates, this would have required them to again strip themselves of the right to impact the Democratic Party nomination for president in four years. In 2016, most of those superdelegates were lined up for Hillary Clinton long before the Iowa caucus, leading many to believe Sanders’ campaign was hopeless.

The reforms, however, go far beyond superdelegates. Most caucus states switched over to holding primaries, which drastically increased voter participation in Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and other states. The remaining caucus states were required to adopt a method for voters to participate if they were working, physically challenged or otherwise could not caucus.

Most importantly, these rules require that unaffiliated voters can join the Democratic Party and vote on the same day as a primary. In New York alone, there are 3 million unaffiliated voters, many of them young people, who could be critical to changing the outcome not only for the party’s nomination for president, but also in the numerous “one party districts” in the House of Representatives and state legislature where winning the party nomination virtually ensures election.

One party districts are almost certain to elect Democrats given the district’s party registration and voting history, so the primary is the election that counts. Corporate and other big money interests all focus on the Democratic candidates in these races, which often results in very moderate Democrats getting nominated. This year, New York moved the cut off date to join the party from six months to two months before the primary, which, while not in compliance with the reform rules from 2016 mandating same day party registration, is still a step forward.

Imagine a campaign like the recent U.S. House primary election in New York’s 16th District between Jamaal Bowman and incumbent Eliot Engel. With same day party registration, thousands of new Democrats could have helped elect Bowman, the progressive challenger. He won anyway, but there would be far more Bowmans and AOCs if New York complied with party rules. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and other closed primary states have similar barriers and multiple one party districts. Changing to same day registration could also help progressives get elected in those states.

Other important reforms considered at the Rules Committee this year had mixed outcomes. Primarily these were charter amendments, and faced a higher bar since they are permanent provisions. All were issues sponsored by Sanders delegates and viewed by the Biden campaign as items that could be deferred. (Eighty percent of the committee members were Biden appointees.) These issues included mandating primaries instead of caucuses and keeping corporate lobbyists out of the DNC. While they did not succeed, reformers will continue to pursue such issues at the DNC and in state parties.

In the United States, unlike any other democracy, we define our politics by our candidates. Even on the Left, we talk about movement building and organizing yet often are addicted to candidates and ignore the rules—especially when it comes to the rules inside the Democratic Party. Some on the Left have argued for building a new party without ever figuring out what the rules are in the Democratic Party that stand as the real barriers to change.

The unanimous vote should be a wake-up call about what’s possible in terms of building and changing the Democratic Party. The 39 state party chairs that supported the reform proposal recognize that democracy and change inside the party is just as important as democracy outside the party. Democrats can’t claim to be the voting rights party, and then restrict voting in primaries. State Party chairs Ken Martin (Minn.), Jane Kleeb (Neb.), Tina Podlodowski (Wash.) and Trav Robertson (S.C.) led the effort to mobilize state chairs to support the rules resolution that we ultimately passed. They are committed to party building at every level.

Party building starts with measuring party registration in every county and setting goals. It means measuring turnout and volunteers. It means opening up party elections at the precinct, county and state levels. It means organizing around issues, and using the primary process to elect candidates who are accountable on those issues to the party organization, whether at the local, state or national level.

The Democratic Party has operated as a top-down system for decades, but slowly there is a growing recognition that the national party is mostly the sum total of the 57 parties (including states, Washington, D.C., territories, Puerto Rico and Democrats abroad)—and that those parties must be member based.

Until 2017, it was rare to have microphones on the floor at DNC meetings, let alone discussion and roll call votes on motions. After the officer elections in 2017, that changed, and the internal functions of the DNC are increasingly democratic, in part because of the the Unity Reform Proposals. DNC Chair Tom Perez has encouraged participation even when it is contentious, such as last year’s discussion on holding presidential debates focused on topics like climate, rather than the general debate format that prevailed.

Focusing on “the rules not just the rulers” is also critical when it comes to Senate governance and the Democratic caucus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican caucus worked around the “cloture” rule that requires the support of 60 senators to end debate on a piece of legislation on the Senate floor.

McConnell eliminated this cloture vote on Supreme Court nominations because a cloture vote would have blocked Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh from confirmation. Similarly, McConnell passed his 2017 tax giveaways to corporate America with a simple majority. He also used a parliamentary motion to cut the floor time for judicial confirmation from 30 hours to two, and over 200 federal judges have been confirmed in President Trump’s first 3 years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions will be spent on contested Senate races this year. Yet at this moment, at least 10 Democratic members of the Senate have not committed that they are willing to vote to get rid of the filibuster if they are the majority in 2021. Here again, it is rules inside the Democratic Party, not those imposed from outside, that hobble our democracy.

Our addiction to candidates means that we raise huge contributions and devote hours and hours of volunteer time to win a Senate Democratic majority. But because we tend to ignore the rules, very little time has been spent discussing how the Senate should govern with a Democratic majority. For example, senators like Joe Manchin (W.V.), Angus King (Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) have all indicated they would not move any legislation forward unless it had 60 votes, which in effect gives Republican senators the right to veto Democratic legislative initiatives. Imagine, a Democratic majority in the Senate next year that is unable to act because the Democrats are unwilling to wield their majority power the way that McConnell did repeatedly.

The hurdles facing us are not only Democratic Party rulemaking and Senate procedures. From the current electoral college system to the arcane U.S. voter registration process, the limits in all but five states on vote by mail, and, most importantly, no limits on campaign spending—the United States stands as the most constrained democracy in the world. This is true even without dealing with fundamental rules like the make up of the Senate itself, the role of the federal judiciary in reviewing legislative changes, or the ability of the president to commit the nation to endless wars.

But we can start with the rules that Democrats control. As we saw in the Rules Committee, we can organize and make a difference. We can demand that the rules on unaffiliated voters joining the party are enforced in New York and other states. We can put limits on corporate and other big money influence in the party structure. We can better focus on one-party districts, realizing that many of the rules are designed to protect incumbents who benefit greatly from corporate contributions. We can demand that Senate Democrats govern and not hide behind the filibuster. We can build state parties from the bottom up, controlled by county organizations that are truly precinct-based, with fair internal elections. We can organize for progressive state party platforms like those adopted in many states that support issues like Medicare for All and then build the progressive caucus in that state to hold candidates accountable on our issues.

What we can’t do is wait for the next Bernie Sanders and expect them to do it for us. We can’t ignore the rules and how we change them, and then say the party sucks and look for another new one to solve the problem. Running independent and third party candidates is fine where it works, but it doesn’t work in most places.

Our Revolution (where I chair the board) and other organizations are mobilizing not only on issues and for candidates, but around party building and rules reforms within the party. Voting for Democrats cannot be like rooting for a sports team and wearing their colors. We need to stay focused on issues, not just candidates. But just as importantly, we must focus on the rules that regulate, and often control, the outcome.

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Twitter Permanently Suspends Account of Vocal Trump Supporter Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell, host of the YouTube show “YourVoice America” and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, has had his account permanently suspended by Twitter.

His account, @mitchellvii, has been suspended for violating Twitter Rules by using one account to evade the suspension of another account, a Twitter spokesperson told The Epoch Times in a emailed statement.

The spokesperson didn’t elaborate.

According to the social media giant’s rules, accounts promoting violence, terrorism, child sexual exploitation, abuse, hateful conduct, suicide, sensitive media, or illegal or certain regulated goods or services will be banned. The rules don’t mention anything about penalties for evading the suspension.

Google-cached pages of Mitchell’s Twitter account show him saying that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)—who presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden picked as his running mate—is not a moderate in a string of posts before his account was suspended.

“The Biden/Harris ticket is making Bernie Sanders look like JFK,” he said in an earlier post on Aug. 12.

In his last post on the social media platform, Mitchell had said: “It is insane to think that defunding police will make neighborhoods safer.”

Mitchell seems to have transferred his Twitter account over to Parler, a social media platform popular among libertarian and right-leaning voices, which is positioning itself as an alternative to Twitter by offering space for “free expression without violence and no censorship.” Twitter, along with other social media companies, continue to be accused of bias against conservative voices.

Mitchell’s profile shows he has been on Parler since Dec. 10, 2018.

He has responded to Twitter’s banning of his account in videos posted on Parler. He explains that he believes the ban was for posting opposition to government-enforced mask-wearing and his support of Trump.

“What it looks like when Twitter deletes 5 years of work in a second because you support Trump 3 months before the election,” he wrote in one post.

Other conservative voices on Twitter have also been turning to other social media platforms after similar bans to their accounts from the social media giant.

Parler received 500,000 user signups in June after Twitter banned popular conservative user accounts from its site.

According to user data acquired by Mediaite, Parler has seen a boost of around 50 percent in their user base, bringing the total number of users to 1.5 million after Twitter banned two popular conservative figures from its platform: Carpe Donktum, a well-known content creator whose content was often shared by President Donald Trump, and National Pulse editor Raheem Kassam.

Some high profile conservative are among those who have shifted to Parler, including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Fox News Network host Laura Ingraham, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

“Technology companies shouldn’t be able to put their thumb on the scale and reshape speech in our country. Features of the technology should apply equally to people regardless of viewpoint,” Gaetz said when he announced that he was joining Parler.

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Michelle Obama to go to bat for Biden

One of the most highly-anticipated moments of the Democratic Convention will come Monday, when Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaTrump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Biden strikes out with Harris, the least-worst of his choices Biden, Harris to address Democratic convention from Chase Center in Delaware MORE will deliver an address that is expected to shine a harsh light on President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of ‘significant’ problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE while urging Democrats to get out and vote.

The former first lady and one of the nation’s most popular political figures, Obama has grown increasingly frustrated with the country’s direction.

“I think she’ll come hard at Trump, in the most artful way,” said one ally to the former first lady. “I think it will be one of the most defining and memorable speeches of this entire cycle.” 

“She has the most powerful voice to get out the vote,” the ally said.  

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: ‘Pro-cop all the way’ MORE is counting on Obama to jumpstart a convention held under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be no roaring crowds or parties, but the Biden team is hoping that speakers like the former first lady can excite voters just as if they were speaking at a more traditional convention.

The former first lady will speak in a pre-taped address the same night as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: ‘Hilarious’ some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (I-Vt.), and two nights before Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election The Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump hedges with Post Office funding | Harris speaks with 19th | An apology of sorts in Massachusetts Jared Kushner denies Trump ‘promoting’ questions about Kamala Harris MORE, the former president.

Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist who served as the director of African American paid media and advertising on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election Appeals court blocks Hillary Clinton deposition on private email server What Biden must do to keep his lead and win MORE’s 2016 campaign, predicted Michelle Obama would deliver “an intensely personal speech, maybe even more so than President Obama’s.”

“By the virtue of being an ex-president there are certain things he’s allowed to say… his will be a little more careful,” Payne said. “So in many ways she’s going to be speaking for her and her husband. She’ll hit closer to the bone for millions of Americans who feel alienated by President Trump and his administration. 

“She can give a real cutting critique and it won’t feel political,” he said.

The former first lady’s 2016 address was the most memorable of that cycle or many others.

She never mentioned Trump by name, but urged Democrats to take a different approach than the Republican.

“Our motto is, ‘When they go low, we go high,’” Obama said in the speech’s most memorable line.

While the speech was memorable, it did not have the desired effect; Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, was defeated by Trump in an upset.

Since them, some have even wondered if it might have been better for Democrats to be more forceful against Trump, regardless of whether it would be seen as punching low.

Michelle Obama over the last four years has watched as Trump has sought to erase her husband’s accomplishments, from the Affordable Care Act to executive orders protecting immigrants to the Iran nuclear deal.

At the same time, she’s also become an even greater cultural force.

In 2018, she published “Becoming,” a bestselling memoir about growing up in Chicago and her years in the White House.

In the book, she slammed Trump, saying the birther campaign he championed that falsely claimed Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen was “deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks.”

The former first lady also wrote that she “buzzed with fury” when she saw the “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced in the middle of the 2016 race in which Trump boasted about grabbing women by the genitals.

Now that Trump is president, Democrats expect the former first lady to dial it up a notch, seeking to avoid a repeat of 2016.

“Last time, we didn’t know what exactly Trump could do, we could only imagine how bad it is,” said one Democrat close to the Biden campaign. “Now it’s real. We’ve seen the damage he’s done. We’ve lived it.” 

Both privately and publicly, Obama has bemoaned the Trump era but has largely remained out of the political spotlight. At the same time, she has focused her energy on voter registration efforts. 

“She’s grown increasingly frustrated with the current climate because she’s seen firsthand how a president can shape the overall mood of the country,” the ally said. 

Earlier this month, Obama acknowledged suffering from a “low grade depression” because of the pandemic and the country’s race relations and the overall political tenor. 

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night because I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness,” Obama said on her new podcast. “I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low.” 

A few days later, she circled back to the topic on her Instagram account, which has 41.1 million followers. 

She acknowledged how recent events have contributed to her malaise. 

“The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us — that we all should just feel OK all the time — that just doesn’t feel real to me,” she added. “So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.” 

David Litt, a former speechwriter to President Obama and author of the new tome ‘Democracy in One Book or Less’, said the former first lady is “able to talk about issues in a way that transcends politics.”

“She’s one of the most compelling speakers because she’s around this world, she’s in this world, but she’s not of it,” Litt said. “I think she has this pretty unique ability to connect with people who might otherwise be skeptical of political rhetoric.”

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Silicon Valley’s Big-Money Donors Are Very Excited About VP Kamala Harris

When Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his choice for a running mate earlier this week, the mainstream business press was unanimous as to what it meant for Silicon Valley executives: relief.

A sampling of the headlines that followed Biden’s announcement: “With Sen. Kamala Harris ascending to become former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, Silicon Valley can breathe a little easier, at least for now” (CNN business). “Silicon Valley Sees Kamala Harris as One of Its Own” (Wall Street Journal). “Kamala Harris could be the best thing that ever happened to Big Tech” (Fortune). “Kamala Harris is a friend, not foe, of Big Tech” (MarketWatch). “Kamala Harris: the First Candidate of Silicon Valley” (Forbes). “Kamala Harris Has Wall Street and Silicon Valley’s Support” (New York Times).

For all the talk of Harris’s supposed ability to unify the Democratic Party, some of her strongest backing comes from a narrow fraction of US capital. Donors to her failed presidential bid included Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky, Microsoft president Brad Smith, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Oracle NetSuite executives Evan Goldberg and Dorian Daley, Cisco CFO Kelly Kramer, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, and venture capitalist John Doerr.

As Politico reports, “Other past Harris funders include Tony Fadell, co-founder of smart thermostat maker Nest; Jony Ive, the design guru at Apple; Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder and former Facebook president; and Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, the home-sharing service.” TechNet, a tech industry trade group, quickly applauded Biden’s choice, stating that “TechNet has worked with Senator Harris since her days as California Attorney General, and we know her to be a person of great intellect, integrity, and ability who fights for those who need a strong voice for justice.”

Having risen to her current position in the Senate by ascending the ranks of San Francisco society, Harris has made building relationships with tech executives a well-honed skill, and her ties to the industry date back to her early years in California politics. Recode’s Teddy Schleifer, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, ex-Yahoo executive Marissa Mayer, and ex-Apple executive Jony Ive, among others, fundraised for Harris’s 2014 California attorney general reelection bid.

Tony West, Harris’s brother-in-law, is chief legal counsel for Uber, a company that is openly threatening to engage in a capital strike — temporarily shutting down its operations and throwing thousands of drivers out of work during an economic crisis — in response to a court ruling mandating that the company classify its drivers as employees rather than independent contractors. While Harris is not responsible for the actions of her family members, West previously helped direct Harris’s 2016 Senate transition operation, and, having served as associate attorney general in the US Department of Justice — the DoJ’s number-three position — has been viewed as a possible candidate for a position in a Biden-Harris administration.

(It should be noted that despite these ties, which extend to Harris’s niece Meena, who worked at Uber until recently, Harris publicly endorsed AB5, taking the opposite side of Uber in the company’s ongoing fight with the state. As a US senator, of course, Harris has no direct role in California labor policymaking, and as Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, told the Los Angeles Times last year, it would have been particularly difficult for Harris to oppose the legislation: “Not just because labor is in favor of it, but because she’s going to look otherwise like she’s making a decision to benefit her family.”)

Mere moments after Biden announced Harris’s place on the Democratic ticket, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — whose best-selling book Lean In Harris helped promote — celebrated the decision as a “huge moment for Black women and girls all over the world.” “Joe Biden you made a great choice!” tweeted Laurene Powell Jobs, a billionaire philanthropist and Steve Jobs’s widow.

As for Harris’s own record on tech issues, while she’s stated that she’s in favor of regulating companies to protect consumer privacy, she is no advocate of Elizabeth Warren’s anti-monopolist line that calls for breaking up companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, nor Bernie Sanders’s calls for a radical redistribution of wealth.

“I believe that the tech companies have got to be regulated in a way that we can ensure, and the American consumer can be certain, that their privacy is not being compromised,” she told the New York Times when asked about the subject. When pressed about breaking up such companies, she evaded the question, responding that her “first priority is going to be that we ensure that privacy is something that is intact, and that consumers have the power to make decisions about what happens with their personal information and that it is not being made for them.”

During her time as California attorney general, Harris did little to stand in the way of Silicon Valley’s massive centralization of wealth, preferring to work with companies rather than against them. As Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, told MarketWatch, “It was deeply troubling that as AG, she oversaw the growth of the biggest sector in America that dominates our privacy and our choices, and didn’t file a single case to take on that power.”

“Ultimately I have to guess she will be a quiet ally for [the tech industry] behind the scenes,” Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist, told the Washington Post.

All of this reinforces fears that Harris’s ascent will come at the expense of working-class people, whose labor rights, livelihoods, and privacy are viewed by Silicon Valley companies as impediments to their business models. It’s also likely part of the reason Harris trumped her competitors for the role of vice presidential candidate. As Cooper Teboe, a Democratic Party fundraiser in Silicon Valley told Vox, “She is the safest pick for the donor community.”

It’s incontrovertible that Harris’s addition to the ticket has indeed enthused donors — just look at what it’s done for fundraising over the past forty-eight hours — but we should consider what strings are attached to that support.

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Mijente Stayed Out of the 2016 Election. Here’s Why…

The 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is not turn­ing out how pro­gres­sives imag­ined now that their favorite can­di­dates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.) and Eliz­a­beth War­ren (D‑Ma.), have left the race. Left with for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden as the de-fac­to Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions like Mijente, a nation­al grass­roots hub for Lat­inx and Chi­canx orga­niz­ing, are piv­ot­ing their strat­e­gy for November’s gen­er­al election.

“While I don’t think [Biden] has earned my support, I think we need to get Trump out. Sitting on the sidelines means that we’re letting this happen.” —Mayra Lopez

Mijente is an orga­ni­za­tion that gives young Lat­inx and Chi­canx peo­ple the oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op orga­niz­ing skills, increase their polit­i­cal aware­ness and build rela­tion­ships with oth­ers who are invest­ed in jus­tice that is pro-Black, pro-Indige­nous, pro-work­er, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-migrant. Mijente decid­ed not to endorse Biden, but it’s not stay­ing on the side­lines — there’s too much at stake. Though the orga­ni­za­tion endorsed Sanders in Feb­ru­ary, its mem­bers resolved to put their weight behind whichev­er can­di­date went up against Trump in Novem­ber. For them, get­ting vot­ers to the polls in Novem­ber isn’t about putting Biden into office; it’s about get­ting Trump out. That’s the basis for Mijente’s Fuera Trump” cam­paign.

The idea behind a neg­a­tive cam­paign strat­e­gy like Fuera Trump is to get vot­ers to vote against some­thing or some­one, rather than for it. Lead­ing up to the 2016 gen­er­al elec­tion, this strat­e­gy worked for Repub­li­cans: 53% of Trump vot­ers cast their bal­lots for him as a way to demon­strate oppo­si­tion to Hillary Clin­ton. Neg­a­tive cam­paign­ing was less effec­tive in mobi­liz­ing Democ­rats, how­ev­er, giv­en that only46% of Clinton’s vot­ers were cast as an anti-Trump state­ment. By com­par­i­son, in 2008 a major­i­ty of both Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can can­di­dates were pos­i­tive­ly moti­vat­ed to turn out for their candidate.

The deci­sion to enter the 2020 elec­tion with an elec­toral­ly-focused neg­a­tive cam­paign strat­e­gy is new for Mijente, which, since its found­ing in 2015, has focused on mobi­liz­ing around issues rather than can­di­dates. The organization’s issue-based work includes, for instance, protest­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s coop­er­a­tion with local and state police and demand­ing an end to the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of migra­tion, an end to pri­vate deten­tion cen­ters and abol­ish­ing Immi­gra­tions and Cus­toms Enforce­ment; its protests and pub­lic advo­ca­cy have helped demon­strate to law­mak­ers that xeno­pho­bic poli­cies will not eas­i­ly glide by with­out a fight from Mijente’s mem­bers. Its move­ment work involves the dif­fi­cult busi­ness of build­ing a dif­fuse appa­ra­tus on the ground that’s strong enough to force offi­cials to hear and heed polit­i­cal demands.

Grass­roots orga­niz­ing and elec­toral orga­niz­ing diverge in a num­ber of ways, says Mayra Lopez, a Chica­go-based Mijente mem­ber, orga­niz­er and polit­i­cal strate­gist. Grass­roots work is about mobi­liz­ing peo­ple by build­ing rela­tion­ships around shared val­ues, for starters. Com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing is cen­tered around lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and the issue,” Lopez says. We’re not there to elect some­body just because we want to play pol­i­tics. There always has to be a larg­er agen­da: Elect­ing this per­son is part of a big­ger plan as to how we’re gonna achieve our goal.”

Mijente’s larg­er goal is to real­ize poli­cies like the Green New Deal, uni­ver­sal health­care and end­ing fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion and oth­er means of ter­ror­iz­ing immi­grants. How­ev­er, while Mijente has tra­di­tion­al­ly pri­or­i­tized issue-based grass­roots orga­niz­ing, it now rec­og­nizes how deep a threat the Trump pres­i­den­cy pos­es — and the elec­toral orga­niz­ing need­ed to oppose that threat. Mijente polit­i­cal direc­tor Tania Unzue­ta real­ized when Trump was elect­ed in 2016 that the orga­ni­za­tion had missed an oppor­tu­ni­ty” to fight against him and what his can­di­da­cy rep­re­sent­ed. The Trump pres­i­den­cy has made peo­ple of col­or, Lat­inx peo­ple and immi­grants more vul­ner­a­ble than ever before. 

Mijente had decid­ed to stay out of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race for two rea­sons: the organization’s assess­ment that then-can­di­date Trump was not a cred­i­ble threat, and that Hillary Clin­ton was not inter­est­ed in their vision of jus­tice because her plat­form promised a con­tin­u­a­tion of Oba­ma-era anti-immi­grant poli­cies. After eight years of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic admin­is­tra­tion that deport­ed more peo­ple than any pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tion and expand­ed the use of deten­tion cen­ters, it didn’t seem to Mijente like things could get any worse with either Clin­ton or Trump in office.

But of course, things did get worse. “[We] mis­as­sessed the threat of Trump becom­ing pres­i­dent,” says Unzue­ta. In 2020, We can’t make that same mis­take,” she says. That means get­ting vot­ers to turn out for Biden, by under­scor­ing the harms of a con­tin­ued Trump pres­i­den­cy. Even as Mijente is mobi­liz­ing mem­bers to vote as a way to cre­ate change, Mijente’s elec­toral strat­e­gy is still informed by its move­ment orga­niz­ing back­ground. Can­di­dates aren’t heroes; they’re tar­gets for orga­niz­ers to push on their larg­er agen­da. And vot­ing isn’t just about show­ing up on Novem­ber 3, but about tak­ing action every day after — Mijente is work­ing the long game. We know that work­ing with­in the insti­tu­tions that oppress us is not going to save us,” Unzue­ta says. We also know that ignor­ing these sys­tems isn’t going to save us.”

Though Fuera Trump won’t break down Amer­i­can gov­ern­ing sys­tems, Mijente is hop­ing the Novem­ber elec­tion could ush­er in a can­di­date who has demon­strat­ed his will­ing­ness to lis­ten and move left on the issues at the top of Mijente’s pri­or­i­ty list. In oth­er words, Unzue­ta says, Fuera Trump is about push­ing for change with­in the state, out­side the state and with­out the state.”

Though a pres­i­den­tial elec­toral strat­e­gy is new for Mijente, the orga­ni­za­tion has suc­cess­ful­ly used its issue-based orga­niz­ing to mobi­lize vot­ers against a coun­ty-lev­el can­di­date in the past. In 2016, Mijente launched and won their first effort to boot some­one out of office: For­mer Mari­co­pa Coun­ty Sher­iff Joe Arpaio, a racist Repub­li­can who direct­ed his depart­ment to racial­ly pro­file and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly detain Lat­inx peo­ple. Arpaio out­spent his Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent by over $11 mil­lion and hadn’t lost a race in 24 years, but Mijente’s coali­tion-build­ing and grass­roots effort to engage vot­ers by door-knock­ing and protest­ing in front of the sheriff’s office worked. The 2016 effort dubbed Baz­ta Arpaio” suc­ceed­ed even as Mijente was fight­ing Repub­li­cans in a red state,” Unzue­ta says. Build­ing a cam­paign strat­e­gy around demon­strat­ing the harm of an elect­ed offi­cial worked four years ago, and it could work in November. 

In order to repli­cate its 2016 suc­cess­es, Mijente will need to use sim­i­lar orga­niz­ing skills to ral­ly its base. It’s about math,” Lopez says. Luck­i­ly for them, the math is on their side. His­pan­ic vot­ers will com­prise 13% of the elec­torate this year — the sin­gle largest non­white demo­graph­ic group of eli­gi­ble vot­ers, accord­ing to Pew Research.

This year, Mijente is orga­niz­ing and reg­is­ter­ing Lat­inx and Chi­canx vot­ers in states where the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Estab­lish­ment pre­vi­ous­ly hasn’t done much out­reach, such as Geor­gia, North Car­oli­na and Ken­tucky. Mijente has seen first­hand the pow­er of such grass­roots orga­niz­ing: In 2018, Mijente turned out young vot­ers for Georgia’s guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Stacey Abrams, claim­ing to increase the Lat­inx vote by 300% more than the pre­vi­ous guber­na­to­r­i­al race. Unzue­ta says that Lat­inx vot­ers in the state hadn’t pre­vi­ous­ly been reached out to by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, and cred­its Mijente with the turnout, reveal­ing what they have always known: that the Lat­inx and Chi­canx vote matters.

A vote against Trump is not just a demon­stra­tion of val­ues, but a pro­tec­tive mea­sure for Mijente mem­bers who can’t vote. Vot­ing is not a tool that’s avail­able to every orga­niz­er or activist, includ­ing Lopez her­self. Lopez is a Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals, or DACA, recip­i­ent. Her immi­gra­tion sta­tus means she’s not able to cast a bal­lot in Novem­ber, and yet, her safe­ty is depen­dent on get­ting Trump out of office.

While Mijente believes that vot­ing often fails to cre­ate the major sys­temic change peo­ple need and instead results in incre­men­tal changes, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has proved to be a big enough obsta­cle to issue-based orga­niz­ing that vot­ing against him (by cast­ing a bal­lot for Biden) shifts pow­er away from explic­it­ly white suprema­cist lead­ers and to a leg­is­la­tor Mijente believes can be per­suad­ed to enact pol­i­cy changes aligned with their long-term issue-based organizing.

While I don’t think [Biden] has earned my sup­port, I think we need to get Trump out,” Lopez says. At this moment we need to be present. Sit­ting on the side­lines means that we’re let­ting this happen.”

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Did Antifa.com Redirect to Biden’s Official Campaign Website?

Shortly after presumptive U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, Snopes readers asked us to verify a number of rumors and claims surrounding the Democratic ticket and their respective campaigns. Among them was the question of whether the URL antifa.com automatically redirects to the official campaign website of Biden and Harris.

A quick search by Snopes confirmed this rumor to be based in truth (our search is recorded in the video clip shown below). As of Aug. 12, 2020, the URL redirected internet users to joebiden.com. However, at the time of publication (Aug. 13), the antifa.com site and its redirect had been removed. 

 
 

Rumored associations with the political protest movement antifa, short for anti-fascists, have plagued Biden’s campaign. In June 2020, the politician was falsely accused of having called the far-left network a “courageous group of Americans.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, antifa is not a unified group but rather a “loose collection of local/regional groups and individuals” that many civil rights organizations have deemed “dangerous and counterproductive” for their use or endorsement of intimidation and violence.

At this time it is unknown who implemented the web redirect. Anyone who owns or has access to a domain can establish either a temporary or permanent URL redirect, which essentially tells a search engine that the page has moved. As such, a redirect simply directs site visitors to a different URL when they click a particular link, according to website hosting platform Squarespace.

Snopes contacted the Biden campaign for comment regarding any potential involvement with the redirect but did not hear back at the time of publication. We will update the article accordingly.

According to Whois, an online domain registry record, antifa.com was registered on April 24, 2002, and was last updated on Oct. 23, 2019. We dug through the internet archives to establish a timeline of the domain in order to determine when the redirect was created. Here’s what we found:

  • The earliest archive of the URL listed the domain as for sale on Nov. 21, 2008. The domain remained available for sale until Jan. 30, 2020, according to our analysis of the archives.
  • The first archived version of the URL that directly associates it to the antifa political group is dated May 31, 2020.
  • On July 23, 2020, the most recent version of the “antifa” website was available with a note that an updated website would be coming soon.
  • Aug. 8, 2020, marked the first archived version of the website that redirected visitors to joebiden.com.
  • An Aug. 12, 2020, archived version of antifa.com confirmed that a redirect from antifa.com had been established to send users to the joebiden.com official campaign website. (See below.)

  • On Aug. 12, 2020, antifa.com showed a “500 – Internal Server Error” message. At the time of publication, the website is listed as unavailable.

It’s not the first time Biden’s website has been the target of internet hoaxes. In 2019, Republican consulting firm Vici Media Group created joebiden.info, a mock website for the presidential hopeful that featured pictures, videos, and animated GIFs of Biden appearing to kiss and touch young women and girls. The marketing group also created fake websites for other Democratic candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.