A communist approach to election work in 2018

BY:Joelle Fishman| May 22, 2018
A communist approach to election work  in 2018


The urgency of this moment increases daily as the Trump administration speeds up its repressive measures and as the resistance continues to grow including with the explosion of new progressive candidates, many women and many racially and nationally oppressed.

As Communists, we work in the elections not just for a candidate but strategically to build and strengthen the movement and our Party for the long term.  The situation varies greatly from one state and election district to the next so tactics have to be developed locally. The more we share our concrete experiences, the more we can learn and get ideas from each other.  Here are thoughts for consideration:

 1. Where to concentrate?

Clubs:  the neighborhood or election district where the club is located;

Districts:  election districts that can be flipped; election districts where working-class champions who are incumbents are under attack; election districts with a progressive primary candidate.

2. What goals?

• build a voter base to change the political balance of forces;
• strengthen relationships with unions, left/progressive electoral forms like Our Revolution (OR) and Working Famlies Party (WFP), etc;
• raise the level of class consciousness, unity and solidarity;
• enlarge the CPUSA diverse working-class membership and readership of People’s World;
• identify among our members potential candidates for local office.

3.  What methods?

Voter registration: laws differ from state to state.  Where there is postcard registration, door-to-door work with voter cards and issue petitions and sign-ups are a great way to identify people who want to become engaged and who we can follow up with to vote and get involved.  Tabling with voter cards, issue petitions, People’s World and literature is another way, but harder to follow up with people in scattered geography. Increasing voter turnout in working-class communities can win elections and create the base for organizing to win a people’s program.  It is a direct challenge to the corporate right-wing that depends on depressing and suppressing the vote.

Participate with allies:  Unions, progressive community groups and left/progressive electoral forms are the best way to participate in campaigns and build the movement for the long term. Organizations vary from place to place.  Labor 2018 is the AFL-CIO program and anyone can take part in phone banks and visits to the homes of union members. Each union also has its own election program that union members should prioritize. Local issue coalitions or ballot initiatives are also important venues, for example Jobs with Justice, Planned Parenthood, Fight for 15, the Poor People’s Campaign, Millions of Jobs etc.  Left and progressive electoral organizations that have endorsed candidates with strong programs are a strategic way to participate such as Our Revolution, Working Families Party, Indivisible, etc. If you are just getting started this is a great way to reach out.

 Hold our own events: Be creative.  Can be an invite to a club meeting, a club cookout, a film showing, a discussion group, a cultural event, etc.  Make them family friendly. Have something lined up to invite people you meet who are also volunteering or looking to get involved.  If you are just getting started and it is not possible to create an event, you can build political relationships with a conversation over coffee, etc.

Use of our literature and People’s World: Our literature and People’s World is necessary to give an introduction to our worldview and connect the immediate tasks of the elections to the need to change the whole system and for socialism.  Many will agree and be excited to find out our approach and will want to join our ranks. Have a stock on hand and take it with join cards wherever you go. Where appropriate a table at a park or neighborhood or large public event is another method.




    Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations. She was a candidate for Congress from 1973 to 1982, maintaining minor-party ballot status for the Communist Party in Connecticut's Third Congressional District. As chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission, she has played an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance that defeated the ultra-right in the 2008 elections and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights and peace.



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