Four years ago, an openly racist, wannabe dictator headed to the White House. Since then, the whole world has witnessed white nationalists marching with tiki torches, white armed militias storming the Michigan State Capitol to oppose face masks, and far too many people of color and their supporters killed at the hands of white supremacists. 

As we reckon with the aftermath of the last election, we should celebrate the fact that our movement defeated a demagogue who has emboldened the white power movement in the U.S. However, with the last four years as a warning, we must up our game and organize an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and pluralist movement that can upend the right-wing populism and corporate conservatism that made Trump possible.    

Trump’s defeat was far from the landslide we had hoped for, with a little over 81,000 votes in four states giving the election to President-Elect Joe Biden. The reason? White Americans once again showed up for Donald Trump. Though exit polls are notoriously inexact — particularly in a year like 2020 — it appears that fifty-four percent of white voters cast their ballots for Trump. Despite predictions that white women would recoil from Trump’s overt racism and misogyny, they backed the current president in greater numbers than in 2016. Equally concerning is the appeal of Trump’s message to young white voters: 43 percent of whites between 18 and 29 voted for Trump. 

The large number of people directly or indirectly supporting white supremacist ideas makes it clear that the problem is well beyond someone’s racist grandfather. As the Democratic establishment bickers over the Latinx voters who went to Trump, we must also confront the millions of white people who are still lured by white supremacy, xenophobia, conspiracy theories, and individualism, often against their own economic interests. 

Our movement has work to do to organize white people. 

As Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez put it

We need to do a lot of anti-racist, deep canvassing in this country. Because if we keep losing white shares and just allowing Facebook to radicalize more and more elements of white voters and the white electorate, there’s no amount of people of color and young people that you can turn out to offset that. 

Initiatives such as  the Race Class Narrative Project are trying to address this gap. The goal of the project is to develop a narrative to counter the racist dog-whistling used to divide working and poor people across racial lines. But it is clear that moving white voters away from right-wing populism is going to take more than a good narrative. It will take deep canvassing and resources that can counter the Fox News and Cambridge Analyticas of the world, as well as the organizing of well-funded white supremacist groups like FreedomWorks, Turning Point Action, and Tea Party Patriots. 

In order to defeat facism, capitalism, and white supremacy — the forces that are killing and oppressing our communities — we must organize against racism in every single corner of this country, from rural Indiana to the Bronx, from Rio Grande to Standing Rock.


Click here to read the entire Elections 2020: Strategy Debrief issue.


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