The Great 2000 Election Battle

BY: Jarvis Tyner| October 16, 2001


(Opening to the National Committee, Nov 18, 2000)

Jarvis Tyner, Executive Vice Chair, CPUSA

Good Morning Comrades.

This 2000 election has been one tremendous struggle from beginning to end. Beyond any doubt this is one of the most incredible election struggles ever in our history. I wish Comrade Gus was here at this meeting; I would really like to get his thinking on this one.

This election has many unique features. The fact that the vote is close for one. As of this morning out of over 100 million votes cast, Gore has a 200,000-vote lead in the popular vote. Bush is leading in Florida by just 300 or so votes. Despite having less popular votes nationally, Bush could win the presidency based on electoral votes.

The Electoral College system was set up to appease the slaveholding states 150 years ago and still haunts us today. It is quite a commentary on the state of our democracy that the next president of the most powerful capitalist nation could win office without a popular vote victory, through voter fraud based on racism and anti-Semitism.

The fact that the presidential election is so close and is still not settled is rooted in the crisis of capitalism. Half of the voters did not vote. The extreme right wing tried to take advantage of this by spending record amounts of money on one of the most demagogic campaigns in history. But the progressive voters came out in greater number then expected and managed to win the popular vote but must now fight for their victory.

So, here we are 11 days after the vote and the 43rd President is still not elected. In fact there are still two races in the House and one in the US Senate that are undecided. So the 107th Congress is not final either.

Then there is the Nader factor also. Speaking objectively, 2.6 million votes for a left liberal independent is an important development. Unfortunately, Nader ran a conscious spoiler campaign. Gore and Nader’s votes together account for 52% of those who voted for President. If there would have been left/center unity at the election booth Bush would have been decisively defeated. The center left majority, nevertheless, has great potential.

Above all else, the most important thing is the fact that our multi racial working class organized and exercised its democratic will; its organized might brought about a popular vote defeat for George W. Bush who represents the most reactionary sections of the US ruling class. We have to say in terms of casting the most votes and the democratic will of the people, this battle was won by the progressive forces on November 7th, 2000.


Bush, the Right Danger

Progressive voters were motivated mainly by the desire to stop George W. Bush. Bush represents a change in style, but not political content, for the ultra right Republicans. With Gingrich, they tried to take out a contract on the working class and racial minorities, but the multi racial working class fought back and took a contract out on them. Gingrich left government in disgrace.

They made some gains but basically the majority of voters have become more and more alienated from them. They knew that they could not win a presidential election based on their hard rightwing policies, so they picked George W. Bush because he had a national media image that was more moderate and centrist. But it was only an image.

In content this so-called ‘Compassionate Conservative’ was no different then Newt Gingrich, Dick Army, Trent Lott, Henry Hyde or Jesse Helms. He is opposed to civil rights and labor rights; he does not support affirmative action and a woman’s right to choose. He’s against anti hate crime legislation and he wants to privatize our Social Security and our public schools. He is for capitalism without entitlements (as Gus would say). He is a Star Wars advocate. He is number one when it comes to putting people to death in his state. His father called it being ‘kinder and gentler’; he calls it ‘compassionate conservatism’. In a pre-election article in the People’s Weekly World, Sam and I asked the question, ‘Where is the compassion?’

Gerald McEntee, head of the American Federation of State Country and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) described Bush as the opportunity for big business, the wealthy elite, and conservative extremists to ‘turn the 2000 elections into an 8 year mandate to take on labor, destroy government programs, put profits ahead of people and roll back every meaningful step we’ve taken towards social and economic justice.’

Julian Bond, the President of the NAACP, described the Republicans as ‘KKK compliant’. He and Congressmen John Conyers warned of the grave danger if Bush gets to pick the next two-four members of the Supreme Court. ‘It would jeopardize justice for decades to come’ said Bond. McEntee and Bond where right on target. This is what we were up against in this election.


Gore had to go left

Gore had to stake out a liberal, even pro working class, position on a number of key domestic issues in order to win. He is for a government-based prescription drug plan. He spoke sharply against the big drug companies. He declared his commitment to not allow the privatization of SSI. He pledged to support a bill against hate crime and new labor law reform legislation. He said he was for enforcing affirmative action and new efforts for protecting the environment. He opposed Bush’s effort to give the ‘budget surplus’ to the super rich.

After his pro working families acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, he jumped 15 points in the polls. (We thought it was all over but the shout-in). But as you know it was far from over.

We had sharp differences with Gore and the Democrats on other vital issues. Vital foreign policy issues, the death penalty, welfare reform, NAFTA and WTO. Gore’s position on Elin was bad. We did not think this election was going to improve things on all fronts. But we knew that things could get worse, that this country could be pushed further to the right. Like most of those working class and racial minorities who voted Democrat, we recognized that this was an effective way to defeat the Bush greater evil so the country could not go backwards and to the right but forward toward the left and greater unity, struggle and victories.

While there were divisions on the left, almost the entire right wing was united behind Bush. Bush had a very deceptive message that resonated among conservative voters. And he had something else. He had most of the big capitalist money and media on his side.

One media name comes to mind: Tim Russett (the ‘Meet the Press’ moderator). I think he is one of the most deceptive, pro Republican moderators on TV. In this campaign, every time Bush stumbled, and he stumbled many times, the media would pick him up and help him out. But if Gore made a mistake he was under sharp, relentless attack.

This election broke another record. It cost an astounding $3 billion. This was the costliest election ever and the Republicans had the largest war chest in history. Business spent 15 times more than labor spent.

With all of this and the 2.7 million votes won by Ralph Nader the fact that George W. Bush lost the popular vote is really a tremendous development.


A Victory

All of the pundits were predicting a close race and that Bush would win the popular vote. But the policy of defeating the greater evil made it possible to deny Bush a popular majority. And to have defeated him in terms of the popular vote and to have reduced their congressional majority and won some important ballot issues, is an historic contribution to justice and human rights. These results can in no way be called a set back. It may not be considered a complete victory but at this point we must consider the results of the 2000 elections a victory.


The Struggle for Florida

But the struggle continues. In US bourgeois politics cheating in elections is par for the course. It’s as American as apple pie. But in a presidential race, I don’t think blatant election theft has ever been so exposed, with the outcome so close and so crucial. And the reason they may not get away with it this time is because the working class and allies have intervened in defense of their victory, in defense of democracy itself. That is the most important aspect of this tremendous struggle now going on in Florida.

The battle is not over. In the next days and weeks greater victories are possible. We should not lose hope. The people have only begun to fight!


Florida: the attempt to steal the presidency

The coalition that produced the popular vote victory on November 7th has not gone away. It is alive and in motion in Florida today fighting the efforts of the Republicans to steal this election through the Electoral College vote. This movement has political momentum; it has the strength and the moral purpose to ensure that ‘no son of a Bush will be in the White House!

Bush and his ultra right thugs lost the popular vote and lost ground in the Congress, so now they are trying to gain the White House by manipulating the Florida results.

Bush did not win the presidency. He has only a few hundred or so more votes than Gore at this point. But tens of thousands of potential democratic votes were not counted because of faulty ballots and faulty machines, because of racial profiling, and the purging of thousands of African Americans from the books. On Election Day thousands of Democratic voters were denied the right to vote by the Florida Republican authorities. Racist roadblocks, phony ID checks and other dirty tricks kept the winning margin away from the polls. Bush did not win the presidency. This presidential election is not over. We do not have a winner until all the votes are counted.

The latest polls show that more than half of the respondents say that there is most likely fraud in the Florida elections. And when asked, ‘Who has a more legitimate claim to the presidency?’ the largest number of those asked say the ‘popular vote winner.’ Over 70% say they favor fairness over speed in the Florida vote count. And why not? This is democratic.

Our party has long believed, and the 2000 election shows loud and clear, that the Electoral College is basically undemocratic and should be abolished.

The struggle in Florida is a struggle for voting rights. All of the votes need to be counted or it’s not legitimate. No one should get away with voter fraud. Thousands of votes were cast aside and should be counted.

Tim Wheeler reports that 28,000 ballots were thrown out in Palm Beach County, where a number of our comrades live, because of the butterfly ballots. Those same ballots were so confusing that 3,400 mainly Jewish voters ended up mistakenly voting for neo-Nazi Buchanan instead of Gore/Lieberman. Twenty-two thousand were thrown out in another predominantly Black county. In Tallahassee the police set up roadblocks that denied African Americans the right to vote. Latinos and Haitians were denied the right to cast an accurate vote because when they asked for the ballot to be translated they were denied assistance. In Black districts in Duval County they didn’t even pick up the votes to be counted until the Saturday after November 7th. Mainly democratic voters were denied the right to vote for all kinds of reasons. The Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP and other civil rights forces are filing lawsuits all over the state because there were numerous violations of the voting rights act. There was massive racial profiling going on. In West Palm Beach their attempt to prevent a recount of thousands of mainly Jewish retirees has the strong odor of anti-Semitism. We join with those who are calling for a revote. This is a just and popular demand in Florida.

Jim Baker, the Bush family enforcer, is leading their efforts in the courts to stop all recounts. On the street they are using thugs and provocateurs to break up pro democracy demonstrations. They stopped Jesse Jackson’s rally. Baker’s job is to prevent the counting of every vote in Florida. You could say, like a criminal, he has returned to the scene of the crime. His job is to blame the victims, to try to cover-up their crimes.


Right Wing Conspiracy

On election night, the exit polls based on interviews of voters at first showed Gore had won. But Democratic votes were obviously being thrown out. Then they declared Bush the winner. Then they withdrew it, because more Democratic votes came in than they expected.

Now they are claiming victory and accusing the Democrats of stealing and of hurting America’s image abroad by prolonging the election.

You know, comrades, these Republicans have a lot of chutzpah. It doesn’t take V.I. Lenin to figure out that something ain’t kosher down there in Florida. Jim Baker must think people are stupid. This is the state where Bush’s brother is the governor. The father used to head the CIA. The discrepancies are mainly in Democratic districts. What do you think happened on election night when they saw junior was losing in his brother’s state? I think ‘Operation Vote Steal’ went into action. These are the Iran Contra people, the folks who invaded Grenada and Panama. George Sr. was in charge of the phony war on drugs, people. When he took over, 35 tons of cocaine were coming in the country annually; within a year it was up to 85 tons. We now know that the government had a big hand in the crack epidemic. If they are capable of doing all that they surely are capable of stealing the Florida election.

We say to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who, by the way, are claiming to be restoring our nation’s morality, the American people are not going to stand for this. Vote fraud is not a family value. There must be an honest count no matter how long it takes. This is a matter of democratic rights. And we say no one takes office until every vote is counted. And this is a majority opinion in the country.

And let me say it is the vote stealing, not the vote counting process, that’s embarrassing our nation abroad. Our government uses the issue of ‘free elections’ to interfere, attack and overturn governments all over the world. Our government sponsored the brutal overthrow of the democratically elected government of Popular Unity in Chile. They are responsible for the murder of Salvador Allende and hundreds of communists and progressives. Should we be surprised at what people like Bush Sr. are capable of doing? No, comrades! In many ways Florida is the chicken coming home to roost. And I want to add that the so-called Banana Republics were invented on Wall Street and organized by the CIA.

And I reject the notion that we are like a Banana Republic.

I like the offer of the Cubans to come and observe the recount in Florida. They’re pointing out that the same people who stole elections in Cuba are now in Miami. It’s like an ‘I told you so.’ The child kidnappers in Miami are having a fit over Ricardo Alarcon’s offer to send objective Cuban observers. It puts things in the proper perceptive. In the case of our government, we say, the preachers of human rights need to practice what they preach right here at home.

As a result of what happened in Florida, a new nationwide movement has been born to defend the democratic right to vote. All across the country, and in Florida in the first place, there are powerful expressions of the democratic will of the people. Joelle told me that Sid and the comrades in Florida have been rejuvenated by this struggle. Masses are angry and they are in militant protest!

We say they must not be allowed to steal the people’s victory. With unity they can be defeated.

This is no time to be subjective or divisive. Gore voters, Nader voters, labor and people’s forces, all democratic minded people including Republicans who disagree with their party’s hierarchy, must unite to prevent Bush and his ultra right thugs from stealing this election.

The fight must be fought in the courts but it will be won on the streets. The recent favorable court decision that prevented the vote from being certified today is a result of the growing movement for an honest count.

We can beat them, comrades. This movement must be seen as the beginning of a post election labor and people’s upsurge. Let us proceed with unity and confidence.

If Bush wins without a fair count he will have very low credibility. What is needed is a vote that reflects the real sentiments of the people of Florida. If Bush takes office before this happens, he will be under a huge cloud of suspicion.

It won’t be ‘Hail to the chief’; it’ll be ‘Hail to the theft!’


Fascist Danger

There are many lessons from this struggle. It is clear from this whole campaign, that the Republicans are really the ones who will do anything and say anything to win an election. They were totally demagogic. From the Philadelphia convention to the very end, the Republicans ran a stealth campaign. They hid their real program. They put on a fake centrist campaign. They used racism, anti communism and personal attacks to divert from the real issues and smear their opponents. And in the end they used police-state methods to trample on the rights of the voters.

The point is, if they will use those methods to win an election those same methods will be used to run the country. This is why we must fight to prevent them from taking the presidency.

If there is unified struggle, people will not become demoralized and cynical because of Bush’s corruption.

Now, what happened nationally on November 7th?


A Very Positive Struggle

Basically this was a very positive election struggle that had some really tremendous features and a good result. It tells us a lot about our country and where our people are politically.


Labor’s Role

At the beginning of this struggle John Sweeney said that the AFL-CIO was going to outdo what they had done in previous elections. That was no exaggeration. He said it was the ‘largest grass roots activity that grass roots workers have exercised in any political election.’

The AFL-CIO concentrated in 35 states and 71 congressional districts with a force of 1600 organizers and a budget of $40 million. They put thousands of organizers on the streets throughout the campaign. They reached millions of voters through phone banks and labor-sponsored voter education ads on TV and radio. They registered millions of voters and built working alliances with civil rights, women’s, Senior, youth and student, gay and lesbian organizations. They set up new organization among the seniors to help in the long-term fight.

On Election Day, they put 100,000 labor organizers on the streets all across the county to get out the vote (GOTV). They broke all records. Twenty thousand GOTV workers in New York alone, 6,000 in Philadelphia. Most of the victories would not have happened without labor.

One of the greatest victories was scored right here in New York. Nationally, the right wing singled out Hillary Clinton for defeat in her bid for US Senator. They poured millions into this state to defeat Hillary. Her unworthy opponent, Rick Lazio, had over $30 million to defeat her. But an alliance of labor, women, and civil rights forces came together to support Hillary. Independent forces through the Working Families Party also supported her based on the issues of health care, childcare, more money for public schools, affordable housing and raising the minimum wage. Some of the late polls showed Lazio with a substantial lead but on Election Day Hillary beat him by 12 points.

Congratulations is due to the working class and progressive voters of New York, because they handed the right wing a big defeat nationally by giving Hillary a land slide victory. This was a big psychological defeat for the right.

The defeat of the vouchers for public schools proposals in Michigan and California was also a huge defeat for the right. The fact that Californian voters agreed that it is better to spend money to rehab rather then jail drug addicts was another big plus. There was also the passing of the health care referendum in Massachusetts. There were some negative results, like the defeat of bilingual education in Arizona. This was a set back. But the result on vouchers was a big step forward.

There were other big victories that night as well. While the goal of defeating the Republican majority in the Congress was not met, the US Senate ended up almost tied and the House democrats have made a gain. In each case the Republican majority was reduced.

As well, some really big right wing heavy hitters were defeated. Ashcroft was defeated in Missouri. The widow of Carnahan won. Which shows you that in 2000 you don’t have to be alive to defeat a right wing Republican. In

Michigan a new political star, Debbie Stabenow, has come on the national scene. By the way, the US Senate now has over ten women members for the first time in history. In Delaware, Democratic woman Cargen beat Roth. McCollum of Florida, a key Republican figure in the impeachment struggle, was defeated.

Corzine won in New Jersey. He is one of the most liberal Democrats to run nationally. He is a new phenomenon, a liberal who is a retired Wall Street millionaire. There is a split in the ruling class.

In Minnesota, Dayton beat Grams, the Republican. The US Senate is now almost tied. We almost won the majority. If Slade Gorton loses in Washington State, the Senate will be tied. Right now it’s too close to call.

The House will be closer as well. The Republicans dropped from 223 seats to 220. The Democrats are now at 211. There are two races that have yet to be settled. The Holt/Zimmer race in New Jersey, where Holt, the Democrat, is expected to win the race. And the race between (D) Elaine Bloom and Clay Shaw Jr., in Florida again. If they both go Democrat, the Republicans will be at the 218 mark. With the two independents, 218 is also close to a tie.

The Republicans are losing power and they are not as cocky as before. This election has taken some of the starch out of them. The 107th crop of Democrats may prove to be more to the left than the current group. The mandate of this election was to defend working families and the 107th Congress should be pushed to do just that. Power sharing proposals now being made by the Democratic leadership are based on a new relationship of forces in the Congress.

The reports from the concentration congressional districts show some important near victories and victories. It shows that the days are numbered for the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. When comrades speak they should give us reports on what happened in the concentration congressional races in their district.

These victories were possible because of the big effort of Labor and allies.

Labor is only 12% of the electorate nationally, yet in this election union households accounted for 26% of all those who voted. In Michigan 43% of all votes cast for Gore and Lieberman were from labor. In New York it was 39% of their vote. Over 30% of all voters in Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Missouri were from labor. Overall, union families voted 67% for Gore/Lieberman.


African American and Latino Vote

In alliance with labor and other progressive forces, the African American vote, which was ten percent of all voters, was decisive. In many races Black voters made the difference. They voted 90% against Bush. African American women, who constituted six percent of all voters, voted an amazing 94% for Gore/Lieberman. Black voters came to the polls determined to stop the Republicans. Despite all the Republican inclusion demagogy, African American voters understood what was at stake and came out in greater numbers than was thought possible this year. Comrades report lines going out to the street at polling places in African American precincts. In Florida, there was a huge campaign that boosted the African American registration from ten percent of the statewide registration in 1996 to 16% in 2000. This was a huge jump in registered Black voters and the Republicans had to have known full well that the full force of the African American vote could defeat them in Florida. Every member of the Congressional Black Caucus was reelected.

While up to 7 million voters nationally, Latinos were 14% of the vote in the state of California. Nationally, Latinos voted 67% against Bush. The Latino vote in New York was a powerful force against the Republican policy of divide and rule. The fact that Gore beat Bush by 12% in California had to do with a higher degree of voter participation and unity of Black, Brown and White working families on Election Day. This was a national trend. In California a ten-dollar minimum wage passed on the ballot.

One of the reasons the Republicans panicked in Florida and in a number of other states was because of the efforts of ‘Operation Empowerment.’ This was a united front of NAACP, NACLA, CBTU, A Phillip Randolph and the Rainbow that registered and educated millions of new non white voters all over the country. This accounted for a record turn out among these voters. In voting stations in New York, New Jersey, California, Michigan and other states the lines were stretched outside.

Women are 52% of all voters, which makes them the largest group of all voters. Women voted 54% against Bush. In California women voted for Gore by an 18-point margin.

Seniors voted 51% for Gore/Lieberman. The youth were 17% of all those who voted. They went 48% for Gore, 46% for Bush, with Nader getting five percent.

You put that all together and you can see why most of the polls were wrong on the popular vote. The polls did not take into account the determination of the progressive forces. Folks understood what was at stake in this election and they came out in greater numbers than before.

Nader and other problems

Our party argued early on that this would be a very close race and that it could be won if there was a real unity of progressive forces. The votes were there to defeat Bush but they had to be mobilized. As we said, if you combine Gore’s and Nader’s votes it comes to 52% of the vote.

We are not faulting Nader voters per se. They did not determine the campaign strategy of the Green Party. But I believe that Nader knew exactly what he was doing and his tactics affected the out come. I think those comrades who voted for Nader should give it long serious thought. The party still loves you. But, we could have Bush in the White House and Nader’s votes helped.

I’ve heard all the augments: ‘Al Gore should have won Tennessee.’ ‘Gore didn’t go far enough to the left.’ Actually, Gore’s move to the left on hard domestic issues is why he lost Tennessee. But the Gore camp made mistakes. They gave up a big part of the country to the right. Rural areas, the South and key areas in the Midwest could have been won.


Real Politics in our country

I think we must understand the real politics in our country. With half of the voters not voting and with those making over $100,000 four times more likely to vote than those making under $15,000, we face a real problem. In this election those making under $15,000 were only seven percent of those who voted for president, while those making over $100,000 were 15%. With that kind of voter demographics a candidate like Bush can win. The right danger is real!

Comrades, as we know, there are a large section of our people who are conservative and whose class position moves them in that direction. There are 77,000 millionaires in our country and they influence the voting patterns of many millions in the middle stratum and even sections of the working class. We have to be aware of this in terms of the right danger.

The US right wing is very adept at using social issues to push their anti working class policies. We have a struggle ahead of us on this front. Some workers are ready to jeopardize their jobs by voting for Bush because the NRA told them that Gore was going to take away their guns. We have a big struggle ahead to defeat the right on these issues. With greater left/center unity, it is a winnable struggle in the long run, but in the immediate it hurts the struggle to defeat the right and advance democracy.


Bush’s Racism

One of the reasons 49 million voted for Bush was the impact of Bush’s racist campaign. The Republican convention was a racist convention. It made a mockery of inclusion. It was a sham and a shameful display of racist indifference. Bush ran a racist campaign. It was not open, but he used code words and played to the deeper racial prejudice in our country. While calling himself a compassionate, he played the race card.

He did it on the question of why some don’t make it in public schools. They are pampered and not pushed to work hard. What he is saying is that Black and Latino students fail because they are naturally lazy. He called the other side ‘soft bigots’ for having low expectations, but he was appealing to the hard bigotry of some voters in order to win. This is the Bell Curve, new racism of the Republican ultra right in action.

When he defined the federal government as the enemy it was an augment for eliminating government programs and for corporate dominance of the public sector. It was sending a strong message that the victims of racism, discrimination and inequality must not depend on the government for help.

He used anti communism on foreign policy and health care issues and vile anti union propaganda on almost all issues. His positions on guns and abortion won over some of these voters. This is the compassionate conservative demagogy. It has its base in our country. We’d better get used to fighting it. It will play a big part in the battle of ideas in the next period. The Party has a major role to play in finding popular ways to counter this neo liberal right wing ideology. Above all, we must fight to eliminate its influence in the ranks of the working class. Thirty-seven percent of union household voters voted for George W. Bush. The ideological struggle is very important.

This is why Political Affairs has a big role to play in this struggle. Joe Sims will speak on this later.


Nader’s campaign did not deal with these issues either. That is one of reasons why there was not greater left/center unity at the polls. The struggle against racism in his campaign was almost non-existent. He was not there on most social issues. Only one percent of African American voters voted for Nader. He played down issues of racial and gender equality. He didn’t see the problem of racial violence as important. Ignoring and belittling issues like raising the minimum wage and labor law reform didn’t sit well with a lot of working people. He only received three percent of the union household’s vote. He actually told the environmental movement that it Bush wins, the environmental movement would accelerate. The head of the Sierra Club sharply condemned Nader and warned of the great damage Bush could do in the meantime.

We have to say in this election, comrades, the infantile view ‘worse the better’ gained new prominence in left circles. It was also very clear that big sections of the middle class left did not see the right danger.


Fighting for the foot

It was said that there was only a foot difference between Bush and Gore politically. I think it more, but about 19 million union families went to the polls to fight for that foot. Seven million Latinos, 9.2 million African Americans, went to the polls to fight for the foot along with about 30 million women and about 12 million seniors. They were fighting for the foot to set the stage for fighting for the mile. This is not reformist politics, this is a healthy struggle for a better life and for democracy. It is a basic part of the real politics of the class struggle. This politics of which Comrade Gus gave us a profound understanding. The politics based on the profound contributions of the founders of our science. This is the real world.

The notion that politics should be based on personal subjective frustrations is not a winning approach. Views like ‘I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.’ We understand this. But millions of working people are not tired and do not see a viable alternative. This has to be taken into account.

We have to say, ‘Yes, but you will be even more tired fighting against the greater evil if they get in.’

Sections of the middle class left refused to adopt the working class agenda. They weren’t fighting for the foot perhaps because they weren’t fighting from the stomach. And maybe there is a middle class resistance to working class leadership. In the next period we must help win others to understand that when our class is in motion it is paramount for the left to support that motion and participate.

Most of Nader’s voters are our allies. They are part of the post election left/center coalition that should be larger and broader then the anti Bush electoral coalition was. The fair ballot movement is uniting a broader spectrum of people than were united during the pre election phase. Let’s build on this.


Greater Unity of Black, Brown and White

This election struggle helped to raise the level of Black, Brown and White unity. A closer working relationship has developed. The issue of racism has grown in importance in this last period. The election should take things further. The struggle cannot succeed without a strong stand against racism. You saw it at the various mass demonstrations this year. It was at the Farmers March and the Million Moms March against gun violence. The anti police brutality marches, the great movement for a state, and now national, holiday for Cesar Chavez helped to build a new level of unity and mobilized the anti right wing vote. The youth and student movement is generally good on the need for unity. Sections of the anti globalization movement are trying to bridge that gap as well. But it is a real struggle and we must play a bigger role.

In Puerto Rico, the movement to stop the bombing of Vieques has helped to defeat the Statehood Party on Election Day. The voters elected Sila Maria Calderon the first woman governor of Puerto Rico. The press is saying that this is the end of the eight-year push to make Puerto Rico the 51st State.

Overall the labor movement is playing a major role in uniting the progressive forces in this period. The class question is key. This election took the struggle for unity to a higher level. Let us build on this.


The Path to Political Independence

Our party believes in and is fighting for the building of a broader and stronger Third Party movement. We did not participate in this great electoral struggle because of any illusions. In the post election period we are working for the united struggle to continue for peace, equality and economic justice, no matter who is in the White House.

Our higher calling (so to speak) in this election was the defense of democracy, without which real independence and socialism are not possible. Now we need to build on this.

Our view is that political independence will not follow one path or one leader (e.g. Ralph Nader). The development of an independent movement that can challenge the existing two parties is moving along many tracks. The Greens are a part of it. But I don’t think they will be the main track. The absence of unity and the lack of racial minorities in their ranks are major drawbacks.

We must look at what happened when the trade union movement took on the task of running 2000 by 2000. Then this year they announced that there would be 13 labor candidates running for Congress. By Election Day it was down to nine. Only one of those candidates won and that was Mike Honda in the 15th congressional district6 in California. The comrades in California were on the case in this important race. But there were some excellent labor congressional campaigns otherwise. Ed O’Brien, in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area, received 47% of the vote. Craig Goodnight in Indiana got 40% of the vote. Nancy Keenan in Montana received 47%, along with union member Brian Schweitzer who ran for US Senate in the same state. Schweitzer received 48% of the vote. These candidates ran credible races. In most cases the regular Democrats did not really support them. But they came close to winning in some cases. The time when there is a strong labor block in the Congress is not far off. Is this not political independence? I think it is.

The labor movement now has the best vote-pulling operation in the country. Without them the Democrats cannot win. Labor has advanced its own candidates and has an independent structure. Is this not political independence? I think it is laying the fountain for an real independent party.

The Working Families Party in New York is an excellent example of what we need in this period. They are labor based but with a real base in the communities. They are multi racial. They have a large base among the youth and students. They work with the voters who have broken with the two parties and those who have not. They run Democrats and progressive independents on their line at the same time. In New York State it is legal to run on more then one party’s line. New York is a fusion-friendly state. There are only a few other states where this is possible. We need to fight for it in every state. It is the basis for building real unity, real victories while we build towards a real people’s party. Is this not political independence? I think it is.

I think the way our comrades built coalitions of struggle and linked them to the elections and the need to defeat the right was an outstanding contribution to this struggle.

The Cesar Chavez Holiday struggle was our greatest example of this. Not only did it win, it also exposed the racism of the Republicans and built multi racial unity. This struggle made a strong contribution to defeating the right on November 7th. And it was led by one of our own: Evelina Alarcon.

While the Black Radical Congress did not take an official position on the elections and there are many different views in our ranks, our activities around our national campaign, ‘Education not Incarceration,’ contributed to the anti right wing climate. Here in New York we held a conference of 500 participants in Harlem that brought together a variety of forces, including a large group of youth. Holding that event in an election year in Harlem, no doubt, contributed to bringing more voters to the polls to defeat the right on November 7th. Is this not political independence? I think it is.


Our Party’s Work

Our comrades were very active in this critical election struggle. We worked in our communities, in our unions, on campuses and in our mass organizations. In this struggle, we played a major ideological role: pointing out the right danger and helping many on the left find their way to correct tactics in this complex election race. I remember going to a national meeting and, outside of Amiri Baraka and John Conyers, very few supported our view. I think that as the Election Day approached many did the right thing. For those who didn’t, we still love you, of course. In this evaluation period, let us discuss what divided us and how we can have a more united electoral policy in the future. Above all, let’s continue to work together.

I want to commend the comrades at the PWW and Political Affairs for producing the best fighting material for this struggle. Despite being seriously under staffed and overworked, every week the communists and non-communists at The People’s Weekly World produced a gem of a paper. The paper was so good that a number of top national leaders of our trade union movement were moved to publicly acknowledge and thank PWW for its contribution. Joe Sims doesn’t know this but the Washington State comrades took my article from the September/October issue and cut it down to two pages and sent it out in a large mailing. They mailed it to key mass leaders, elected officials and activists, including leaders of the Green Party. The feedback was very positive, and even included donations. This initiative may have helped the voters in Washington State to ‘fight for the foot.’

I also want to give a special thanks to the comrades who were a part of the 2000 election committee. You really did a great job. Special thanks go to Joelle for a great job as secretary and Marilyn for jumping in and doing a great job on Party election literature.


Communist Candidates

The one big missing ingredient in this struggle was that we did not run more Communists for office. The exceptions are a city council race in a major city on the East Coast. The comrade scored 11% of the vote. The other was in the Northern California district where our comrade was drafted by the housing movement to run on a progressive slate for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. Comrade Judy Ann can now be called Comrade Commissioner. She was elected. Congratulations to the Northern California District.

In 2001 and 2002 let us take advantage of all the good relationships we have built this year and let’s agree to run a number of candidates for local office. We can win too.


Post Election Program of Struggle


If Gore wins, the mandate is clear. He has pledged to:

  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Create a prescription drug program
  • Stop any privatization of Social Security
  • Pass legislation on hate crimes
  • Pass legislation to stop racial profiling
  • Rethink Star Wars
  • Give working families a tax break
  • Better fund public schools
  • Eliminate the use of vouchers
  • Pass labor law reform
  • Appoint a Supreme Court that will not repeal Roe vs. Wade

All of this is just to name a few of his commitments. I want to add others, which need to be in the mix:

  • A moratorium on the death penalty
  • A big cut in the military budget through nuclear disarmament
  • Ending the embargo against Socialist Cuba
  • No new Vietnam in Colombia, South America!



If Bush Becomes President…

…then we face a much more difficult situation. Putting aside his demagogy, he ran as a moderate so moderation should be his mandate. But in reality, Bush will want to push very hard to the right. He will no doubt want to advance his raid on Social Security. He will want to give a huge tax cut to the rich. He will push for more vouchers and charter schools. He will call for a massive increase in the military, mainly for new weapons and Star Wars. He will declare his election as a sign that the country has moved to the right and towards conservatism and proceed to try to attack union, civil rights, and women’s right to choose. He’ll have Cheney by his side so his incompetence will be minimized. This may all happen along with a major downturn in the economy. And then there is the Supreme Court.

The thing that is on our side is if he gets in on the Electoral College vote without the popular vote and with big questions about the Florida vote scandal, his administration will be under a big cloud of illegitimacy. It will be a real struggle nevertheless to mobilize folks. Demoralization will be a factor.

Generally, I think Bush and Cheney will be on the defensive and can be kept on the defensive.

It will, however, be difficult for many working families. Poverty and homelessness and racial conflict could rise. It won’t be easy for a lot of working class, Black and Brown families. We will have to fight and fight hard.

But my feeling is that by 2002, we should defeat their majority in the

Congress, if they have one. And in 2004 Bush and Cheney, like Bush and

Quayle, will be defeated. Our slogan should be: ‘One term is all they get!’

Finally, we aren’t the only ones who think they won’t last. Kevin Phillips, the Republican liberal commentator predicts that they won’t hold either. He says that the Republican Party ideology ‘has run out of gas.’ He goes on to say that the coalition that the GOP formed 32 years ago is now ‘obsolete.’ And given that, he sees an end to (not capitalism) but the Republican era. The Republican era of US capitalism more accurately.

If the Republicans had won a landslide, he wouldn’t be talking like that. But, thanks to labor and the people’s forces, we weakened them and put the people in a stronger position to defeat their most vicious attacks. In that sense the vote on November 7th may have helped our nation avoid a big set back.

All I can say is the end of their era cannot come soon enough. The key is to build a united labor and people’s post-election fightback and upsurge.

With the unity of the center left majority that came to the polls on Nov. 7th aligned with millions of others with the same concerns but who stayed home, we can win. Let’s accelerate the transition to a new era starting on Inauguration Day 2001.

Thank you, comrades.



    Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board.. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years.

    Tyner was born in the Mill Creek community of West Philadelphia in 1941 and graduated from West Philadelphia High School. He joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall.

    As a leader of the CPUSA Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appears on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative. He currently resides in the Inwood section of Manhattan, N.Y., is married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild.


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