Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.

In Michigan’s tight-knit world of pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics, the most inter­est­ing aspect of the pres­i­den­tial con­test isn’t the con­test at all — at least not exact­ly. It cer­tain­ly isn’t the two con­tes­tants — one alto­geth­er under­whelm­ing (Biden), the oth­er a socio­path­ic scam artist (Trump).

Instead, the most inter­est­ing sto­ry is unfold­ing across the wider land­scape of polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing. Rather than obsess­ing over the man­ners or absur­di­ties of the can­di­dates, left-wing orga­ni­za­tions are march­ing in to fill the void left, as Time reports, by an ​invis­i­ble” Biden cam­paign. And they have done so through high­light­ing: 1) defeat­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and 2) cen­ter­ing the long-range aspi­ra­tions of work­ing-class peo­ple while fram­ing the elec­tion as just one weapon in a larg­er arse­nal that pro­gres­sives can use to achieve those aspirations. 

In a recent Michi­gan Get Out The Vote vir­tu­al ral­ly, Rep. Rashi­da Tlaib (D‑Mich.) called for a lev­el of vot­er turnout that makes the elec­tion ​too big to rig,” with our uni­fied voice becom­ing ​a bull­horn” loud enough to prompt­ly force the cur­rent goon squad from office. Besides a call to arms, Tlaib also high­light­ed the tech­ni­cal stuff: Michigan’s relaxed vot­ing laws, includ­ing no rea­son absen­tee vot­ing, same-day reg­is­tra­tion, and Detroit’s 23 satel­lite vot­ing loca­tions, encour­ag­ing any­one eli­gi­ble to grab their pals for a day of civic duty. 

It’s not just Tlaib: An entire con­stel­la­tion of grass­roots orga­ni­za­tions are mobi­liz­ing their bases to impact the out­come in Michi­gan, where 10,704 votes swung the Mit­ten State to Trump four years ago. 

Groups like Detroit Action, Michi­gan Lib­er­a­tion, Moth­er­ing Jus­tice and the Michi­gan Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Coali­tion are run­ning var­i­ous call­ing, tex­ting and door knock­ing pro­grams, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with tens of thou­sands in the Detroit area. And We the Peo­ple Michi­gan (where I work in com­mu­ni­ca­tions) is sev­er­al months into a ​deep can­vass­ing” pro­gram that, as Andy Kroll writesat Rolling Stone, engages peo­ple ​in extend­ed, empa­thet­ic con­ver­sa­tions, with the goal of com­bat­ing prej­u­dice and shift­ing beliefs.” 

Under the larg­er We Make Michi­gan coali­tion, we’ve linked arms with 482 For­ward, Detroit Action, Michi­gan Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Coali­tion, SEIU, and Ris­ing Voic­es of Asian Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies to help build pro­gres­sive pow­er in the state. With lead­er­ship from 482 For­ward, an edu­ca­tion jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, and Detroit Action, the coali­tion has run a series of ​Freakin’ Vote Fri­days”: week­ly youth-led ral­lies to encour­age young people’s abil­i­ty to impact both elec­tions and the fights that will con­tin­ue to shape deci­sion mak­ing long after those out­comes are decided. 

Con­ser­v­a­tives are usu­al­ly much bet­ter at hitch­ing schemes for long-term pow­er, but the Left is catch­ing up. Tlaib offers a prime exam­ple. She has empha­sized the need to ​beat Trump and make way for trans­for­ma­tive change.” Notice that she doesn’t say that beat­ing Trump will lead to trans­for­ma­tive change. Pro­gres­sives under­stand that the first does not guar­an­tee the sec­ond. It mere­ly clears an obsta­cle to it, bring­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a bet­ter world — includ­ing poli­cies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal — with­in clear­er view. 

Take the Move­ment for Black Lives and calls for the Breathe Act—a sweep­ing set of reform mea­sures to begin, in Tlaib’s words, tear­ing ​down those sys­tems that have been set up against our black neigh­bors.” Tlaib does not tie the suc­cess of pop­u­lar move­ments to the good graces of pow­er­ful politi­cians, but to the mus­cle that pop­u­lar move­ments can exert on them. ​Trans­for­ma­tive change real­ly hap­pens on the streets,” she adds. ​That’s how the labor rights move­ment hap­pened, the right to vote hap­pened, the Civ­il Rights Act — all hap­pened because peo­ple on the streets” forced Con­gress to act. 

Tlaib is unique­ly posi­tioned to yank vot­ing off of its pedestal, and place it among a vast set of tools avail­able to help clear the path to bet­ter days. ​If we’re lucky, our move­ment will pro­duce and con­tin­ue to pro­duce folks like Rashi­da Tlaib,” Michelle Mar­tinez, pres­i­dent of the Michi­gan Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Coali­tion, recent­ly told me. Mar­tinez is point­ing to the fact that Tlaib emerged from Detroit’s broad pro­gres­sive ecosys­tem. It’s a world where vot­ing is not a be-all-end-all when it comes to pol­i­tics, but one where you occa­sion­al­ly pause to cast a strate­gic vote for a slight­ly more favor­able can­di­date, and then hur­ry back to orga­niz­ing in your neigh­bor­hoods, schools and work­places to improve the world. 

Think­ing of it this way, vot­ing may be strate­gi­cal­ly nec­es­sary, but not suf­fi­cient. As the Oba­ma years demon­strat­ed, with­out extra­or­di­nary inter­ven­tions, Amer­i­ca’s vast machin­ery will car­ry out the tasks it’s been set to: bombs will rain on civil­ians, sanc­tions will dis­rupt the flow of med­ical sup­plies, cor­po­ra­tions will move freely around the globe while fam­i­lies are torn apart for dar­ing to cross imag­i­nary lines, incomes will remain flat, med­ical debt will bank­rupt mil­lions and fos­sil fuels will boil the planet. 

The hero in this sto­ry is not pow­er­ful peo­ple whose speech­es bore you to tears, or the par­ty lead­er­ship that gets teary-eyed at the board­room diver­si­ty of weapons man­u­fac­tur­ers. Deep, last­ing change has a thou­sand and more authors — the prod­uct of pop­u­lar move­ments exert­ing enor­mous pres­sure on the nation’s shot callers, while build­ing an alter­na­tive to the cor­po­rate class that dom­i­nates our politics. 

Which is why pro­gres­sive groups in Michi­gan and across the coun­try are doing the grunt work usu­al­ly anchored by cam­paigns, set­ting them­selves up with the most favor­able ter­rain pos­si­ble for the fights that must come next. Because, even if Biden wins, the Left must still orga­nize inde­pen­dent sources of polit­i­cal pow­er to ​haunt his dreams,” as writer Anand Girid­haradas put it in an inter­view with Noam Chomsky. 

As we learned from Obama’s 2008 orga­niz­ing jug­ger­naut, retain­ing inde­pen­dence is the only way to pre­vent being absorbed into a par­ty known for boil­ing grass­roots move­ments into mer­chan­dis­ing vehi­cles for cam­paign mugs. Lan­dis Spencer, co-chair of the Black and Brown Alliance of the Metro Detroit chap­ter of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca says, if Biden pulls this off, ​the Left needs to be an oppo­si­tion par­ty at every lev­el” in order to ​push the agen­da left… That’s our homework.” 

If Michi­gan vot­ers tell Trump to bounce on Nov. 3, tak­ing ghoul­ish white nation­al­ists like Stephen Miller with him, we will, in large part, have the efforts of these inde­pen­dent left-wing groups to thank. 

As a 501©3 non­prof­it pub­li­ca­tion, In These Times does not oppose or endorse can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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Eli Day | Radio Free (2022-01-24T13:40:09+00:00) » Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/.
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" » Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.." Eli Day | Radio Free - Wednesday October 28, 2020, https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/
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Eli Day | Radio Free - » Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.. [Internet]. [Accessed 2022-01-24T13:40:09+00:00]. Available from: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/
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" » Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.." Eli Day | Radio Free - Accessed 2022-01-24T13:40:09+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/
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" » Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank.." Eli Day | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/. [Accessed: 2022-01-24T13:40:09+00:00]
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» Left-Wing Groups Are Filling the Void Left By an “Invisible” Biden Campaign in Michigan – If Joe Biden wins Michigan, he’ll have these independent, grassroots groups to thank. | Eli Day | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2020/10/28/left-wing-groups-are-filling-the-void-left-by-an-invisible-biden-campaign-in-michigan-if-joe-biden-wins-michigan-hell-have-these-independent-grassroots-groups-to-thank/ | 2022-01-24T13:40:09+00:00
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