The President's Column: There Is No Blue Wave Without Us

August 20, 2018

by George Gresham

We must create the movement that will stop the madness in our country.

GG_PressRelease_fa.jpgSummer’s over, sisters and brothers, and we have only two months until Election Day, so we’ve got the fight of our lives before us.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that working people (actually, our whole country) are in a world of trouble just hasn’t been paying attention. Turns out that the folks who want to Make America Great Again apparently think the last time our country was great was a hundred years ago: before there were laws protecting collective bargaining, union organizing and occupational safety and health; before laws that protected our air and water; and before laws protecting women’s control over their own bodies and the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

For many, making America great again means returning to the days when there was one set of laws for white men of means and another for people of color, women, and the poor.

The President of the United States, backed by his lieutenants in Congress and a far-right majority on the Supreme Court, are working hard to take us back to those times. November 6, the date of the midterm elections, is our chance to block them. Believe me, the stakes could not be higher.

Though the President is not on the ballot, he will undoubtedly be on every voter’s mind. In the meantime, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate, including one Senate seat in each of the five states where 1199SEIU is present, are up for election. At the same time, many governorships and state legislative seats are also up for grabs. These are the folks who determine who gets to vote and whether our votes count in 2020, when the next presidential election is held. And of course, they also control Medicaid, Medicare and other spending affecting our jobs and our patients.

Sisters and brothers, we cannot be complacent. Numerous polls show that public opinion is on our side, but the 2016 election is a brutal reminder that polls do not determine election results.

I’m asking you to forget all the talk about a “Blue Wave” in November. Truth is, we must create the wave, or it won’t happen. Yes, we live in a democracy, but it’s a democracy with serious shortcomings. Donald Trump lost in 2016 by three million votes, but due to the Electoral College, which was created to satisfy the slaveholding states two centuries ago, he is President. In 2016, Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate got six million more votes than the Republicans, but the Republicans still control the Senate.

How is this possible? Well, Blue states like New York and California have 19 million and 37 million people respectively; Red states like Wyoming and South Dakota combined have fewer than 1.5 million. Yet, each state has two senators. Think about this: Wyoming has fewer people than Washington, D.C., but Washington isn’t allowed to have any Senators. Many of the state legislatures also up for election in November conduct the gerrymandering and voter suppression which give Republicans a 248-192 advantage over Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

All of which is to say that the cards— or at least the power—are stacked against true democracy. But this has never stopped us before. The entire history of our country, and certainly our Union, is one of folks uniting, mobilizing and organizing to fight the powerful and expand democracy. So, please, if for some reason you’re not yet registered to vote, I urge you to register immediately. Each state has its own registration deadlines, but it’s not too late. For more information on voting registration deadlines and dates in your state, see page 21 or contact your delegate or organizer.

Yet the truth is, just YOU registering to vote isn’t enough. We need you to help register all the eligible voters in your family as well. And if you are not already, we need you to get involved in get out the vote efforts; this can be phone-banking, door-knocking, or talking to your neighbors at places like your house of worship, shopping centers, etc. Again, please ask your delegate and organizer how to get involved. We need you to do this. Your families and your communities need you to do this.

No doubt these are scary times. The President of the United States talks about “some very fine” Nazis in Charlottesville, rips children away from their parents to lock them in cages, and demands professional athletes be fired (and even deported) for protesting police killings of unarmed citizens. He also keeps saying he wants to build a wall. Well, let’s build him a wall; one made of tens of millions of voters that he cannot overcome on November 6.

It is time to stop the madness.

Voter registration dates and guidelines for every region of the Union.

1199 Magazine: July / August 2018