Last week’s election results were a wake-up call for the Democratic establishment in Illinois and around the country.
Black voters, together with movements that include disenfranchised and non-voting people, demonstrated a commitment to a vision of American democracy that is not yet realized.
We voted resoundingly for the Fair Tax Amendment in Illinois to tax the rich so as to fully fund our schools and public services. We kept Illinois blue, even as our neighboring states have moved politically to the right over the past decade. And we delivered Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin for Joe Biden.
That last point is complicated for us. We all supported either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential primary. We see clearly the damage that the Democratic Party has done to working-class Black and immigrant communities, from the 1994 Crime Bill that put millions of our people behind bars to ongoing tax cuts and deregulation that have created brutal inequality.
Yet, like tens of millions of Black people across the U.S, we voted for Joe Biden for president in the general election because we choose survival. We defeated neofascism at the ballot box so that we could survive to fight neoliberalism.
If you’re feeling grateful for the chance to survive and fight with us, then be clear: you are feeling grateful to Black voters. You are feeling grateful to coalitions, like the one that Stacey Abrams put together in Georgia, that center Black people. You are feeling grateful to movements such as Mijente in Arizona, driven by undocumented immigrant organizers who unjustly cannot vote but who also deserve a say in our shared future.
And you are feeling grateful to organizers, not consultants, who once again showed us that the people who are treated the worst by our republic consistently do the most to save it.
Fortunately, we’re all organizers. As members of United Working Families, we’re building a real political alternative — one that is anchored in the communities of color and movements for justice that delivered this election.
Here’s what we need to do next:
- Tax the rich. Seventy-one percent of Chicago voters said yes to the Fair Tax amendment, with more than 82% of Black Chicagoans leading the way. There is overwhelming support in Chicago for city, county and state budgets that tax wealthy individuals and corporations instead of laying off public workers or imposing more fees and fines on working people. Service cuts, layoffs and punitive fines are the agenda of the white supremacists and billionaires who happily watch poor Black people suffer. We unequivocally oppose them.
- Fund the recovery. The communities of color who delivered our nation from Trump are the same people who are disproportionately dying from COVID and ravaged by the economic effects of the pandemic. The Democrats who count on our votes must deliver on cash payments, rental and mortgage relief, extended unemployment and medical debt forgiveness.
- Ensure our representation. Communities of color are the backbone of the Illinois Democratic Party, and we deserve more for our loyalty and investment. The new map must assure better representation, particularly for Black Chicagoans, who have endured school closings, the loss of public housing and scant neighborhood investment at the hands of Democrats but nonetheless steadfastly kept Illinois blue.
- Fight for racial justice. It should be clear by now that Trumpism is inextricable from white supremacy, nativism and anti-Blackness. The reach of Trumpism in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois indicates how much work we still have to do to win justice.
We come from the communities hit hardest by generations of disinvestment and structural racism. We are rooted in the movements of people who have put their bodies and livelihoods on the line — striking workers, hunger-striking parents — to win the most basic human dignities. We know that a just and peaceful future can be won only through deep organizing anchored in these movements and communities. We are ready to lead the way.
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