Mass Mobilization: The Most Effective Tactic to Protect the U.S. Election

Interview with Jim Lafferty, former executive director of the Los Angeles office of the National Lawyers Guild, conducted by Scott Harris

While President Trump and Vice President Pence attend large campaign rallies across the U.S. with few precautions against the spread of the coronavirus, the deadly pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans has reached a new record high of daily infections. Despite the health crisis, the Trump campaign, Republican state legislatures, some federal judges and the Supreme Court have aggressively pushed to limit safe options for voters to cast their ballots, and ruled to disqualify the extended count of mail-in ballots in some states, even if post-marked before Election Day.

After the president’s relentless months-long dishonest campaign claiming that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, and his declaration that he cannot lose re-election unless it’s rigged, there’s growing concern that Trump and the GOP are laying the groundwork to steal the Nov. 3 election.

Because many Democrats are casting their votes by mail and large numbers of Republicans are planning to vote in-person, it’s possible that President Trump will appear to have won on election night, even if he ultimately loses if and when all the votes are counted – the so-called “Red Mirage” scenario. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Jim Lafferty, former executive director of the Los Angeles office of the National Lawyers Guild, who assesses the threats to the Nov. 3 election, and his belief that mass mobilization is the only sure way to defend the election.

JIM LAFFERTY: Bringing masses of people on the streets and staying there, not just for a “one afternoon off” demonstration, but stay there in the same spirit for some days after the election — that, well, as they did it with the Arab Spring, they they stood in the streets, in some cases for months. If they can do it, we can do it — to be out on the streets, defending the electoral process itself, protesting against any attempts by the courts or the Congress to steal the election that presence in the streets has a profound impact on what politicians think they can get away with. And therefore what they try to get away with. We’ve proven that during the Civil Rights movement, during the anti-Vietnam war movement and other movements, that when we have the power of the people in the streets, it does have that kind of impact.

And, especially, I think, important in this case, because if it does end up, for example, in the Congress, if the election had to be decided — there are number of, again, mainstream authors have talked about this — this is not my interpretation. The constitution is very clear. It’s ultimately decided not in the Senate but in the House where you say, “Well, that’s good news.” The Democrats have majority in the House. Oh, no, that’s not how it’s decided. Every every state delegation gets one vote. And there happen to be two more state delegations that are Republican than there are Democratic. So despite the fact that they may have had less votes for Trump in those, I think it’s 26 sets of Republican jurisdictions doesn’t matter. And since they all get one vote, the minority will decide who the president is if it comes to that.

Now, I think that’s unlikely, but it’s not so unlikely that the New York Times and all sorts of others, Wall Street Journal even, and Washington Post have written about it and talked about it as a real possibility. Yes, I think all of that can be influenced all the better and can be safeguarded against to the extent that we, the people not only vote in massive numbers, but show up in the streets because we know the right-wing is going to be there. Show up in the streets on Election Day and especially in the days after, because in many states it’s going to take some days, if not a week or more to count all the votes. And we’ve got to insist that those votes be counted and the courts not denied the right to those votes to be counted.

SCOTT HARRIS: Jim, just a final, quick question. We only got a minute or so left, but, are you satisfied that progressive groups around the country are making the necessary preparations to organize folks to come out into the street and challenge, attempts to steal the election? Are messages going out to the people who need to hear the particulars about how to organize, where to gather and how to have contingency plans in place to meet a challenge such as this?

JIM LAFFERTY: Yes. The short answer to your question is yes. But I would in all honesty, say that not to the extent that we might have, had we sort of woken up and thought about this a bit earlier. It’s not easy, you know, to organize these. But I think spontaneously, because of what we’ve seen — so many during the pandemic and so many of the Black Lives Matter protests, for example — were spontaneous. Yes, on the one hand, I think that organizationally had we to do it all over again, we would have had a more organized call for what I’m talking about two months ago and three months ago. But it’s been hard for that to sink in and for us to come because we live in quote unquote America. We can’t believe that our elections would have to be defended in the streets.

But now as that’s become clear, organizations are getting together, they are getting their folks together. I know with the Lawyers Guild, our other organizations are. And so we’re prepared to be out on the streets. But perhaps not as coordinated as we could have been had. We started this sometime earlier, but just as we demonstrated during Black Lives Matter and many other protests after Trump’s election, we can come to the streets in vast numbers, peacefully coordinate with one another on the streets and let it be known that we’re defending the election and what’s left of democracy in America. So I urge everyone — dare I say more than vote, but please be willing in your neighborhood in your area, when you hear about those demonstrations, pass that word on, don’t be afraid, but be out there saying, “‘Yes’ to democracy and ‘no’ to stolen elections in America.”

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