2020 National Election
Post date: Feb 26, 2020 12:20:50 AM
Last week, the AFT executive council spent our meeting evaluating the 2020 national election, particularly taking stock of the stakes, the state of the race at this moment, and what steps we can take now to help elect a president and Congress that share our values for a better life for working families, a voice at work and the preservation of our democracy. We also evaluated our AFT Votes Election 2020 program, the AFT’s most robust member engagement program of any election.It’s been a year since we started the AFT’s endorsement process, and we’ve had the largest, deepest engagement with AFT members and the candidates we’ve ever had. More than 300,000 AFT members have engaged personally in our Election 2020 work so far. This process has helped us hear from nurses, teachers, school support staff, bus drivers, adjunct professors, graduate employees, public employees and more from all over the country, and understand their aspirations and who they connect with and trust. At our executive council meeting, we reviewed our direct experiences with members and the feedback we’ve gotten from them: the 10 separate candidate town halls, five regional meetings (to date—there are more on the way!), multiple telephone town halls with hundreds of thousands of members around the country, member surveys and polls, our Public Education Forum 2020. It also helped us understand the state of play in the race, including the number of states holding delegate selections in the next few months, and we realized we needed to go from the listening and questioning phase and lean into the next step—the advocacy piece of this process.
While we found that our union has divergent views on who should be the Democratic nominee, there is no question that AFT members from all over see Donald Trump is an existential threat to the values and aspirations of our families, our communities and those we serve. And while our members have a respect and admiration for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer, they gravitate toward Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren because of their leadership in public education, affordable higher education, healthcare, labor and civil rights.
Therefore, our executive council is encouraging our members to actively support Biden, Sanders and/ or Warren because they share our values, have demonstrated effective leadership through their records, have earned significant support within our membership, and are best positioned to achieve meaningful and lasting victories on the issues that matter to us most.
The executive council’s resolution encourages our members and leaders to become involved in one of these three campaigns. We announced this decision in a national telephone town hall last week with more than 47,000 AFT leaders and activists from all over the country.
Our union knows that Bernie, Elizabeth and Joe share our values, and we know we can count on them. Each has been a strong and reliable friend and advocate on critical issues such as ensuring safe and welcoming environments in our schools, our hospitals and our communities; investing in public schools, colleges and services that are necessary to fund our future; protecting the freedom to teach and the freedom to care so we can meet our students’ and patients’ needs; fighting for the freedom to live securely on one job’s wages, with a decent retirement and the right to join a union, and without catastrophic healthcare costs or crushing student debt; and fighting the destructive hate, bigotry and divisiveness that is undermining our democracy.
We felt it was important to take this step now, while there are a number of critical contests still to be decided. This is the most important election of our lifetime, so our members want to shape the race, not chase it. By the end of March 2020, more than 65 percent of the delegates will be allocated, and it is essential that our affiliates, our members, and our leaders engage and support candidates now, if we are to effectively influence the political dialogue. And this includes leaders providing their individual support as they feel compelled to voice their own preferences.
Our union thrives when democracy is strong and members are engaged, so I’m sharing our resolution along with possible steps you can take to get involved and encourage others to be part of this process. We’ve already seen a number state and local affiliates endorse Biden, Sanders and Warren. Leaders across the union have announced their personal preferences. And we have rank-and-file members running for delegate for the candidates they are most passionate about. While I haven’t announced my personal support for a candidate, the AFT vice presidents, the other executive officers and I may make personal announcements in the coming weeks.
Additionally, as we discussed at the regional meetings and the telephone town hall, we need you to engage directly with your members at the state and local levels and, if you so choose, with one or more of these three candidates
What are some ways you can get involved? You can:
Send a letter or email to members of your local, or host a conference call with your local’s activists, to urge their engagement with the presidential—and down-ballot—races. Using Action Network, we will be syndicating an email to all of our affiliates that you can send to your members about this resolution and next steps. Visit AFTvotes.org for the most up-to-date information on the candidates and their positions on the issues.
Run to be a delegate to your party’s national convention, and encourage your members to do the same. Visit AFTvotes.org or contact the AFT’s political department at 202-879-4454 for more information.
Volunteer for a campaign. We encourage you to check out:
Register young people to vote, and get out the vote! - whenweallvote.org
Help engage even more members in discussions, telephone town halls, labor walks and other campaign activities.
Show up online—celebrate our endorsement process, your favorite candidate’s victories and your AFT union values on social media as we head toward the 2020 general election.
We are so grateful to you and our whole union for the leadership and commitment it is showing at this juncture. As educators, healthcare providers and public employees, we have an even greater responsibility, as we are trusted messengers at a time of significant disinformation campaigns that have sown mistrust and division in our country. We know it will be an intense year ahead and the stakes couldn’t be higher. So please accept my most sincere thanks for all you do, and will do, for our union and our country. We’re counting on you.
You can read the entire resolution here. We also have a Q&A document regarding the resolution to help you answer any questions that might arise.