Elections 2020: When We Organize, We Win.
When we organize, we win.
This election was proof that when our communities come together, when we build power from the bottom-up that is rooted in working-class communities and communities of color, we can win real victories for justice, for our health, for our neighborhoods and for our future.
The Trump administration was resoundingly defeated by a large margin of the popular vote. All across the country, working-class people and people of color voted at rates we’ve never seen before. Together, we voted for our values, our families, and our future — to put our health, justice and communities over corporate profits. And we did so despite rampant voter suppression, corporate misinformation, and a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced many to risk their health just to make sure their vote is counted.
In Oakland and Richmond, voters elected progressive majorities to both city councils and passed ballot measures that will create a fairer tax system, fund schools and social services and increase civilian oversight of the police. Prop 15 is too close to call, and the passage of Prop 22 sets a dangerous precedent for corporate control of our elections. But no matter what happens with the statewide ballot measures, this election was clear evidence that voters across the state share our vision for a future where all people have the resources they need to thrive.
Together, we voted for our values, our families, and our future — to put our health, justice and communities over corporate profits.
Asian Americans were central to these victories. Over and over again, our communities have been ignored by political parties and mainstream politicians, even though so many of us reside in swing states and we are the fastest-growing racial group in the country. But this year we saw our communities turn out at record numbers, with 1.5 million Asian voters voting in California by mail and early voting alone.
We are so proud of the work APEN and our allies have done to mobilize working-class immigrant and refugee Asian voters in this election. APEN talked to 12,000 voters in their own languages about the issues that matter most and reached tens of thousands more through text, social media, and mail. Many of the voters we talked to had seen corporate misinformation about Prop 15, but 71% left the conversation ready to vote #YesOn15 to invest in our public schools, public health and crucial social services. Together with our partners in AAPIFORCE and Asian American organizations across the state, we talked to voters in Chinese, Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Punjabi, Lao and Vietnamese, mobilized hundreds of volunteers, and created a multilingual voter guide that reached over a hundred thousand voters.
When we organize, we win. We still don’t know whether Proposition 15 has passed, but it’s going to be close, and we must work to make sure every single vote is counted and every voice is heard this election. Voters of color, working-class and immigrant and refugee voters are so often disenfranchised by an election system that invalidates our votes for something as small as an invalid signature or using the wrong color of pen.
We have held each other back from falling off a cliff, but we are still standing precariously on the precipice.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: the power and momentum we built this year is not going away. Big businesses poured $70 million into defeating Proposition 15, running ads and contacting voters all across the state with blatant lies and misinformation. Yet our coalition ran a truly grassroots campaign that collected a record-breaking 1.7 million signatures and has already brought us closer than we have ever come before to reforming Proposition 13, which pundits have called “untouchable” for decades.
This fight isn’t over — in fact, it is just beginning.
We have held each other back from falling off a cliff, but we are still standing precariously on the precipice. If the future we believe in — one where our cities invest in community care instead of policing, where all people have access to clean air and quality housing and education — is going to come true, then we are going to have to fight like hell for it.
Our communities have the solutions to the crises we face today. We need a Green New Deal. We need to invest in community resilience. We need a just transition away from fossil fuels. We need to build a new, just, and regenerative economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Oakland and Richmond, where a tide of community organizing has won elections for progressives in both city councils, we need to pass a Black New Deal, invest in community resilience through innovative solutions like land trusts and resilience hubs, and make sure any money raised by Prop 15 if it passes funds social services that benefit our communities, not the police.
To do all of that, we will mobilize millions of people to take action. And above all, we will invest in deep organizing in frontline communities, working-class communities and communities of color, who must be at the center of our movements if we are going to win.
Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow the next fight begins. Thank you for joining us in this movement.
Executive Director, APEN
Electoral Organizer, APEN