We’re not staying quiet anymore.
Working people hit the streets last week, marching for climate justice and picketing alongside nearly 50,000 striking General Motors workers.
It was far from a one-off demonstration of our power. Those actions followed in the footsteps of activists, strikers, organizers and countless others who, all this year, have refused to accept a rigged, broken system.
Worker solidarity is at a boiling point. Hundreds of thousands of working people are joining the labor movement, and millions more say they’re ready to follow suit if given the chance.
Americans are driving a moment of collective action unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. From the workplace to the picket line to our communities, we’re making our voices heard and fighting for the justice that we’re owed.
It’s a fight to peel back corporations’ stranglehold on our economy and eradicate the inequities that still define our society. This is a struggle for massive changes in the way we work and live, putting our lives and future back into our own hands.
That sort of structural change requires new economic and political rules. And to win those new rules, we have to win some elections.
We’ve made plenty of noise in the streets. Now, it’s time to make sure that noise is heard loud and clear at the ballot box.
The work of electing genuine advocates to office—from the White House to city councils—starts now. Our success in 2020 won’t be secured through ad buys or corporate fundraisers. Ultimately, it will be decided by the size and makeup of the electorate.
Who will be registered to vote, and who will turn out to cast a ballot? That’s the game. The other side is already playing, and we need to get moving.
In states across the country—including battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Georgia—right-wing forces have changed registration rules, restricted access to polling places and even purged hundreds of thousands of people from the voter rolls.
They want us to be quiet. They want us to stay home. Because if we aren’t silenced, they know we will decide this election.
We can’t afford to sit this out. So, I have three asks for you this National Voter Registration Day.
First, check your voter registration status. You can do it right now. Go to your secretary of state’s website to see whether you’re registered to vote. And if you’re not, change that today.
Second, register your people. Talk to your family and your neighbors. Your friends. Your co-workers. Talk to young people and newly eligible voters. Talk to people who haven’t voted in years. Ask them if they’re registered to vote. If they don’t know, help them check. And if they aren’t, help them register.
Third, remember those conversations and make sure all of those people in your life turn out to vote.
That’s the game plan. If we follow through with it, we can make sure that the votes cast next November represent who we are. We can make sure that our elected officials represent our communities. And we can make sure the policies they enact represent our best interests.
It’s on us to mobilize our communities. Nobody’s going to do it for us, and plenty of deep pockets are doing just the opposite.
We have the power to overcome that opposition and be heard. We do it every day. Let’s do it some more.
This article was originally published at AFL-CIOs on September 24, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Nakisha M. Lewis is the Director of Civil, Human and Women’s Rights at the AFL-CIO. She is an experienced philanthropic and political impact strategist with deep roots in community organizing. She comes to the Labor Movement after more than twenty years organizing for racial justice, women’s rights and LGBTQ equality at the local and national levels. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Nakisha spent ten years in philanthropy working with individual donors and foundations to develop grantmaking strategies that address inequities and strengthen marginalized communities. Most recently, she served as Program Officer and Senior Strategist for Safety at the Ms. Foundation for Women where she created a national portfolio for women and girls with a Black, queer, feminist lens. Her work on women’s rights also includes the co-founding of the #SheWoke Committee—the catalyst for the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls; established in 2016 and the co-convening of “Power Rising” – a national conference to build an agenda for Black women and girls.