Election Aftermath: Racism, Poverty, Environmental Destruction and War

teleSUR reached out to several young activists around the U.S. to hear their views on why elections don’t really change things.

The U.S. elections have left millions out of the equation. Many people, especially young people, vow to continue organizing after Nov. 8 and refuse to settle for the antics of the 2016 presidential campaign. Hailing from the East, West, Midwest and South of the U.S., these youth talk about fighting the whole rotten system.

Rebecka Jackson is a Los Angeles-based artist and activist. She works in multimedia, film, theater and dance. She is a member of Workers World Party. Rebecka is currently in production for “Up.Rise. The Film,” a documentary investigation of Baltimore’s police violence.

Ultimately, anyone with the slightest bit of foresight knows the inevitability of either presidency: corporations win, more poor people die.

November 8 brings up a series of questions. What is the greater evil — a rapist or a person who has sent armed militants to rape and murder thousands all over the globe? Who is more dangerous — a person who would allow Muslims in the U.S. to be profiled and degraded or a person who gives Israel funding to enforce apartheid?

We have the progeny of the Klu Klux Klan against a flag-waving war hawk. Ultimately, anyone with the slightest bit of foresight knows the inevitability of either presidency: corporations win, more poor people die.

Under either candidate, the loss of life will likely be in the millions.

Under either candidate, the loss of life will likely be in the millions. Neither candidate has hinted at trying to terminate police brutality, oil or coal production, factory farming, cobalt mining or deforestation. In order to keep these industries booming it cost millions of lives and more abject slavery. On top of that, both candidates would need to continue to fuel the war economy. This will cost the world countless lives as the imperialist invasion through the Middle East and the Global South continues.

Activist and organizers are left with one choice — socialism.  Socialism rises naturally from the people when they have been pushed to the edges of their humanity when they realize how inherently broken the current system is.  Nov. 8 can only serve as the last mock exercise of a broken oligarchy in its attempt to cover yet another spurious election.

It is critical to join together and reach out to the oppressed around the world who suffer from U.S. imperialist rule. U.S. organizers must learn how to be strong, supportive allies, they must be fully aware of the destruction the next president will indubitably cause. They must learn how to combat and deflect this destruction.

The elections are a meaningless passing of the baton between cronies — all playing for the same team but fighting over the machine’s spoils. The destination is the same.

This leaves activists to clean up the mess from this little pageant. It means standing on the frontlines to defend immigrants, going face-to-face with their police goons, disrupting business as usual, divesting from their products and showing that we are growing and unafraid.

Lamont Lilly is the 2016 Workers World Party, U.S. vice presidential candidate. In 2015, he was a U.S. delegate at the International Forum for Justice in Palestine in Beirut, Lebanon.

The U.S. presidential elections are just a day from being over. The bad news is that many people in the U.S. are finally coming to grips with our feelings of disillusionment, distrust and discontent. On one hand, there’s Donald Trump, an openly racist misogynistic bigot. On the other, there’s Hillary Clinton, a renowned warmonger whose foreign policy decisions have brought death to millions, particularly throughout Central America, Africa and the Middle East. Both are agents of Wall Street and the U.S. corporate elite.

In North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, early voting numbers have declined drastically. Several counties and local municipalities in North Carolina are currently being sued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for voter suppression. North Carolina is the same state that was just fighting against stiffer voter ID laws back in July.

In the city of Charlotte, N.C., community members are still seeking justice for the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott. On Sept. 20, Scott was murdered by the Charlotte Police Department as he sat waiting in his car to pick up his son from school. The shooting, featuring three armed police officers and unarmed Keith Scott, was captured on live video.

There was also North Carolina’s repressive House Bill 2, which isn’t just a “bathroom bill” that discriminates against LGTBQ people; it also prevents local municipalities from increasing the minimum wage.

It’s so important to have all of these struggles represented with compassion and understanding. What is happening here in the U.S. South is not an isolated regional phenomenon. Such disregard for justice, human life and human need is, unfortunately, occurring worldwide. Mass solidarity is the only way that the poor and marginalized are going to create the change we need. That change, starts right here, in the United States.

We know that no matter who wins this upcoming election, we’re going to have to stay in the streets and continue organizing. Nov. 8 will come and go. Unfortunately, state-sponsored violence and police brutality will still be here. Poverty and unemployment will still be here. Racism and anti-Blackness will still be here. Fuck the elections! As activists, we have to stay vigilant and keep organizing.

Jefferson Azevedo, a Brazilian immigrant, is a student at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College, where he is the president of the Black and Brown Student Club. He was an organizer with the Southern California Immigration Coalition and is a member of the International Action Center.

This Tuesday, Nov. 8, millions of people will briefly come out of their routine to cast their votes in another U.S. presidential election. Latinx voters — like Black voters — are being used and led to think that the winner of the election will make a significant change in their lives for better or for worse. This event — which Donald Trump, in violation of the rules established by the U.S. oligarchs, declared was rigged — is nothing but a popularity contest to decide who will be the general director of U.S. imperialism and thus continue the exploitation and oppression of people of color, and all people, at home and abroad.

Although many voters and non-voters may disagree, the situation of Latinx people or any other people of color will not improve regardless of who wins this election. If the elections were good for people, they would not exist or be allowed in the U.S. It is a system created to give the impression of an impartial democracy that represents the will of the people, but the question is: What people? Certainly not the economic refugees who come from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world devastated and destroyed by Western imperialism and its agents on the pretext of promoting freedom and democracy.

Certainly not the unemployed youth in inner cities who, instead of filling a job, are filling the prison cells under the schools to prisons pipeline. Certainly not undocumented workers who are forced to leave their homes, risk their lives crossing the desert and suffer many types of physical, emotional or sexual violence, to find a way to make ends meet for their loved ones. It only benefits one type of people: the rich.

Thus, with all the facts pointing to the farce known as U.S. presidential elections, Latinx and all other people must realize that their vote is useless. Instead, the energy and time devoted to this symbolic gesture can be used to build and organize a movement aimed at combating the causes of the problems and injustices that are making their lives miserable.

It must be a grassroots movement in association with all oppressed, poor and marginalized people. Students, trade unions, community organizers, progressive organizations, prisoners, undocumented workers, LGBTQ people and all those that fight against the brutality of the elite security forces, commonly known as the police or armed forces.

The demands of the movement should undoubtedly include a decent wage, amnesty for all migrants, an end to the death penalty, free education, universal health at all levels, housing, an end to all wars and military occupation and an end to the police and their brutality. Will Clinton or Trump do any of these things if elected? If your answer is no, I have another question for you: what’s holding you back from organizing?

Danielle Boachie, 28, is from Ghana in West Africa, currently living in Chicago. She’s a graduate student in Women’s and Gender Studies/African Diaspora Studies. As an activist, she focuses on anti- capitalist and anti-imperialist work and is particularly invested in lifting the voices of queer and trans women of color, and Africans both in the diaspora and on the continent.

In the Midwest, the heroic struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with other Indigenous peoples, against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is rooted in the fundamental right of the self-determination of oppressed nations. This fight for access to land and clean water mirrors the dark history of colonial violence on this continent. The U.S. was founded on land stolen from Indigenous nations, and created by the labor of enslaved Africans.

The U.S. government waged a relentless genocidal campaign against native peoples through mass forced migration, broken treaties, and slaughter. Even today, Native Americans are seven times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Current ruling class propaganda simply erases Indigenous people, pretending they do not exist. The Standing Rock struggle has shown that nothing could be further from the truth.

It is no surprise that neither presidential candidate of the U.S. capitalist two-party system has shown solidarity with Standing Rock. The Democrats and Republicans will protect the interests of the capitalist class until they are forced by revolutionary struggle to do otherwise. Furthermore, Donald Trump has personal funds invested in the oil companies involved in DAPL, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign has received millions in donations from the same banks that are funding the pipeline. In this election, there is only a “lesser evil” if Native Americans are lesser people, with a lesser right to water and life.

After a cop gunned down 23-year-old Sylville Smith in the North side of Milwaukee, a historic center of the Black community known as Sherman Park, eyewitnesses state that youth in the immediate area rebelled in self-defense against this latest atrocity of police terror.

The Coalition for Justice, a Milwaukee community organization, released the following statement at the time: “What happened last night was not the result of greed or an ignorant display of anger as some have called it, but rather pain and frustration built up from over 400 years of oppression … We are one of the most segregated cities in the United States. We are the worst city for Black children to grow up in. We are a city of inequities, of under-education, of unemployment, of oppression, of drug abuse, of violence.”

Capitalism has left the Black youth in Milwaukee, Madison and elsewhere in the state — along with other oppressed people and a growing number of poor and working-class whites — with bleak futures and low-wage or no jobs. Black communities are occupied and beloved family members are gunned down by the police.

As the Coalition for Justice wrote on Aug. 14: “What happened last night was a revolt and an uproar, not just a disturbance. The media has no problem to classify us at thugs … The people are angry. The people are fed up, and the people are demanding their freedom.”

Scott Williams is a high school teacher, a social justice union activist, and an organizer with Workers World Party. He organized demonstrations against the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer.

Philadelphia is the poorest major city in the U.S., with its majority Black and Latinx communities the casualties of gentrification, police terror, mass incarceration and poverty. Over 200,000 Philadelphians live on less than US$5,700 per year. Thirty-six percent of children live in poverty — a number which has skyrocketed since 2008. Over 30 schools have closed in the last three years, meanwhile, the 11,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have gone over 1,200 days without a raise.

The Democratic Party runs Philadelphia. They have a virtual one-party dictatorship over local politics. Yet the politicians have no answers for the endless crises facing our people.

As a young teacher and activist, I am constantly facing a barrage of Clinton supporters who tell me of the horrors of a Trump presidency. Trump certainly represents racism, fascism, and sexism. My union tells me about how “Hillary shares our values.”

I assume that means that our shared values include the importance of dropping thousands of bombs on independent countries like Libya, only to sum up the experience by saying “We came, we saw, he died.”

Or perhaps we share her values expressed during her six years on the Board of Directors of Walmart. Clinton loves Wal-Mart, saying in 1990, “I’m always proud of Wal-Mart and what we do and the way we do it better than anybody else.” I assume that she means she is proud of how effectively Walmart exploits its workers here and abroad. To be clear, I don’t share any of these values.

Mass solidarity and struggle is the only way out. On Nov. 1, 4,700 transit workers in Philadelphia launched a massive strike, fighting for dignity, respect and safety at work. These workers have promised to continue striking through the election, damaging the Clinton machine’s voter turnout in a city which votes over 90 percent Democrat. This is the type of independent struggle which is needed. These courageous workers inspire me to keep talking to my coworkers, my friends, and my community members. No matter who is elected, our fight against the racist billionaire class must go on without pause.

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