I take this time to honor the memory of Jim Moran-Director Emeritus of the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational safety and Health (PHILAPOSH), an organization dedicated to advocating for workers killed or injured while doing their jobs to earn their livings; Jim was instrumental in organizing in Philadelphia such events as Workers Memorial Day, late in April, honoring the memory of workers killed while trying to earn a living for themselves and their families; organized the Labor Day parade in September, where we celebrate ourselves, the working men and women in the Philadelphia area, and have fun doing it; and brought to Philadelphia the May Day celebration, where we celebrate the internationally recognized day honoring working people, and we learn the real history of the Labor movement in this country. Jim was a working –class kid from the heavily industrialized neighborhood of Kensington, and he helped other works find their pride and empowerment. Jim, may your memory continue to be a blessing and an inspiration.
Rejoice! We did it! Joe Biden, after a long ballot-counting drama that lasted for a week, is elected the 46th President of the United States. He always had the larger popular vote over whatshisface, just like Hillary Clinton did in 2016; but we had to wait until the right number of Electoral College votes in each state-particularly Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada-were tabulated, so that Biden got over the 270 threshold.
The Electoral College was a system formulated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where the framers of the Constitution-affluent white men, many of whom owned slaves-had no concept of what we now call “democracy;” the states had, at that time, requirements of property for white men to qualify to vote. Also, the delegates of the southern states, where slavery was predominant, knew they would be underpopulated compared to the northern states and thus outvoted in a popular election. There was also the longstanding fear among elites-still going on today-that the slaves would unite with lower-income whites to challenge the elites’ privileges and power (not at all a BAD thing!). Thus the Constitution-Article II, Section One-organized the system of the Electoral College, which has given disproportionate power to numerically weaker southern states, so they can continue their system of chattel slavery.
The Electoral College has led to elections that had the person with the majority of votes losing, or else the election thrown to the House of Representatives for them to sort out in the wheeling and dealing, and oftentimes threatening the very existence of the country. This was shown in the election of 1800, where John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr ran against each other, and Alexander Hamilton’s influence swung the House’s votes from Burr to Jefferson. In 1876, Samuel Tilden had more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, but questions of Florida’s electoral votes caused a threat of another civil war, just as the nation was recovering from the last one; a special commission was formed, but a deal was made-the Democrats would allow Hayes to be President, if he agreed to remove federal troops, who were protecting the newly-freed Blacks during the reconstruction period, from the South. Thus, the Republican Party, “the party of Lincoln,” betrayed the former slaves, their most loyal supporters, and left them at the “mercy” of the growing system of racial segregation known as “Jim Crow.”
The Electoral College is a mechanism formed by oligarchs, to protect oligarchic privilege and power, and it is long overdue to be eliminated. I urge you to contact Congress members and Senators to do so, thereby ending a destructive element in our elections and our history.
But more importantly, we must continue-after we catch our breath, of course-in fighting the Coronavirus, demanding that the Senate pass the relief bill passed by the House-in MAY!-to benefit working people who lost employment due to the pandemic; state and local governments who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, since certain of our “leaders” refused to deal with it, preferring to play political games while Americans get sick and die; and medical workers, such as nurses and EMTs, who have worked tirelessly to deal with our illnesses during and including the pandemic. This will take much serious grassroots organizing, from the bottom up, of working people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and homeless people-people who have long traditionally been deliberately excluded from the decision-making process.
Let us now and forever bury the once noble and necessary, but now impractical, idea of reaching a bipartisan consensus, “reaching across the aisle,” to work out deals for the benefits of our common nation and its people. The Republican Party is too far gone in its embrace of racism, religious fundamentalism, rejection of education and of scientific fact, and plutocracy to deal with on that score; this has gone on for, I would say, since the New Deal, when our capitalist class hated FDR for imposing controls over them and for encouraging the empowerment of workers through organizing into unions.
This has gone on through the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, where he rejected the Civil rights Act of 1964; to Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” where he sought the voters for George Wallace, and called for “law and order,” the buzzword for repressing Civil Rights activism, and with his “War On Drugs,” which was a cover for a war on the Black community and anti-war activists; Ronald Reagan’s proclamation, “I believe in states’ rights,” as he starting his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where, in 1964, the Civil Rights activists-Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman- were killed by the Klan for registering Black people to vote (showing how important voting is); the campaign of 1988, where the patrician George HW Bush, through his campaign manager Lee Atwater, waged the Willie Horton propaganda campaign, with the image of the scary Black man out to rape and kill.
Whether or not the Republicans are personally racist is not important; playing to racially-based fears remains a long-standing republican propaganda tool.
The behavior of trump and his minions during the period between the election and the inauguration has bene appalling. Such routine procedures as counting the ballots and certifying the election, as well as the General Services Administration (GSA) releasing funds to begin the transition to the new Biden administration-so that the new regime can make plans based on new evidence, on such serious issues as the pandemic-have seen trump’s lawyers going to court to find SOME excuse to stop the ballot count, or to deny the validity of the ballots-mostly from communities of color, like in Detroit. There have also been threats of physical violence and death to election officials. But fortunately, the GSA has finally released the funds for the transition, and the courts have recognized the futility of the trump attorney’s case, which has been no case at all.
We must abandon trying to reason with the Republicans and their racist hangers-on, and stand fast for, and advance, the needs of working and low-income people, and for the rights and needs of communities of color and of LGBTQ+ people to advance in the world, and to simply live their lives without violence or abuse, by the agents of the State of anyone else.
On a personal note, I have just self-published my manifesto, Under The Workers Cap, printed by Minuteman Press (https://www.minutemanpress.com/), where I articulate my social and political beliefs, based on my study of American History and my activism in the Labor movement and the community. It’s on sale for $10.00 plus postage.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Enjoy your holidays! America will be free!