Far-left wing veteran activists have joined forces in a major two-phase campaign to defeat President Trump, by targeting and persuading progressive voters — especially Bernie Sanders supporters — in battleground states to cast ballots for the Biden-Harris ticket, and advance their far-left progressive agenda through relentless pressure on the new administration “from day one.”
The initiative, called Vote Trump Out, is being led by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, co-founders of the far-left progressive RootsAction, which claims over 1.3 million active members. RootsAction includes known radical activists such as Noam Chomsky, John Cusack, Linda Sarsour, Medea Benjamin, James Zogby and others who intend to assist the campaign by lending their voices (and organizations) to provide the necessary credibility to persuade voters in battlegrounds states to go out and vote.
In a statement to Common Dreams earlier this month, Cohen described the new grassroots initiative as a “two-step campaign: First, vote Trump out. Then, challenge Biden from day one.”
The plan to challenge Biden is crucial to encourage more voters. “It’s easier to persuade swing voters on the left who live in swing states to vote for Biden, despite their hesitancy, if they know we’re serious about step two,” Cohen said. “And people who trust RootsAction or our campaign’s national endorsers, know we’re damn serious.”
The campaign’s mission statement declares, “We are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we’re also clear-eyed about where things stand: supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only way to defeat Trump. … If Biden wins, we’ll be at his door on day one, demanding the kinds of structural reforms that advance racial, economic and environmental justice.”
The fresh campaign entails launching a highly-targeted social-media program which will utilize messages from national and state progressive “luminaries” (widely respected individuals on the left who are not establishment Democrats) aimed at persuading progressive voters in a dozen battleground states, especially Bernie Sanders supporters, to vote for Joe Biden rather than sit out the election or cast a third-party “protest” vote.
“Our organization fought fiercely in the primaries for Bernie and against Biden,” say RootsAction co-founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon. “But the general election is far less about Biden than it is about Trump – the most dangerous president in modern U.S. history, who opposes virtually every policy and principle that progressives are fighting for.”
Both Cohen and Solomon have a long history of radical left-wing activism.
Cohen is the founder of the “media watchdog” organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He became a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he also worked as a lawyer, would write “investigative articles” for the socialist magazine Mother Jones, and claimed to be “ideologically aligned” with Ralph Nader “on virtually every issue.” Cohen recently referred to capitalism as “the system that U.S. racism is entrenched in.”
Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) which collaborated with Saddam Hussein‘s regime to organize “fact-finding” trips to Iraq for American political figures and entertainers, as well as the former executive of FAIR.
He visited Moscow on eight separate occasions during the 1980s, staging a sit-in at the American Embassy there and serving as an anti-American propagandist. He also traveled to Iraq with actor and anti-war activist Sean Penn in order to protest and impede the “momentum toward war.”
Solomon told Politico, which was early to report on the effort, that RootsAction has also hired full-time organizers in three battleground states (Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin) to assist the campaign with the upcoming Election Day.
“In messaging to persuade voters who dislike Biden’s record, to vote Biden in swing states, we’ve learned that it works well to characterize Biden as a far better opponent to be fighting against in the White House than the immovable Trump,” Solomon stated, in reference to his group’s testing of Facebook audiences.
In a press release, RootAction stated:
The Vote Trump Out campaign asserts that while President Trump is unfailingly immune to progressive persuasion or protest, the fight for a full progressive agenda (ranging from major climate initiatives and combating racism to universal healthcare, free public college and taxing the wealthy) would have the potential to claim some significant victories with Biden in the White House.
Vote Trump Out maintains an online site under the same name (VoteTrumpOut.org) which serves as the online hub of its e-activism. The campaign was launched earlier this month with a video — which is prominently displayed on the site’s homepage — featuring retired MIT professor and far-left-wing political activist Noam Chomsky.
“Another four years of Trump may literally lead us to the stage where the survival of organized human society is deeply imperiled,” Chomsky states in the 2-minute clip. “It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter whether you like Biden or not. That’s your personal feelings, irrelevant, nobody cares about that. What they care about is what happens to the world. We have to get rid of Trump, keep pressure on Biden, just as Sanders and associates have been doing.”
Watch the full video:
This generation is going to decide whether organized human society can survive. And a crucial part of this decision is to get rid of the major barrier to survival, which happens to be in the White House.
— #VoteTrumpOut (@Roots_Action) August 6, 2020
The Vote Trump Out site includes an FAQ section to counter potential left-leaning arguments against voting for Biden.
“Crucially, Biden is moveable. We’ve already shown that with mass pressure, we can push him to support more progressive policies. Trump, on the other hand, is immune to public persuasion or protest. With a Biden presidency, a disciplined and mobilized left could extract significant victories,” reads one response.
In a joint statement from RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America, Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris is also regarded as politically malleable. Referring to Harris as a “political weather vane,” the statement claims that Harris’ “habit of aligning her stance with the prevailing political winds” offers progressive groups hope.
“We will fight every day to make sure those winds blow decisively in the direction of a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a level playing field for working families everywhere,” the statement adds.
In response to how the initiative can endorse Biden, given his record of “centrist neoliberalism,” the Vote Trump Out campaign states it “does not endorse Joe Biden,” but that its effort is merely to defeat Trump, who is described as a “white supremacist and quasi-fascist who will be even more dangerous if given a second term.”
Referring to voting as “fundamentally a strategic act,” the initiative claims that it is fighting to protect the vulnerable from “four more years of bigotry, exploitation, and repression,” and claims that it “will be ready and organized on day one to hold a Biden administration accountable.”
The site’s “take action” section includes prewritten tweets which visitors are encouraged to retweet, such as:
Imagine the strength that @AOC and @IlhanMN will have under a @JoeBiden presidency. He’s going to be pushed! #VoteTrumpOut
Imagine a Trump that’s not hindered by having to win another election. He’ll be unstoppable. I’m voting for @JoeBiden because he won’t be immune to public persuasion + protest, and we can force him to enact real progressive policies vs Trump’s fascist decrees. #VoteTrumpOut
The campaign also provides memes for its followers to tweet out, featuring lines such as “Fuck Capitalism” as well as references to Biden as the “bridge” to be tread upon:
— #VoteTrumpOut (@Roots_Action) August 13, 2020
— #VoteTrumpOut (@Roots_Action) August 5, 2020
In one tweet, the group asks, “What would you rather be protesting in 2021? Net zero carbon emissions standards by 2030 or authoritarian fascism from which we may never recover.”
Vibe Check 2021 pic.twitter.com/3xqWKwpd84
— #VoteTrumpOut (@Roots_Action) August 6, 2020
In another tweet, the campaign turns to Antifa supporters in displaying a link to the antifa.com website, which redirects alternately between the Biden campaign site and a “digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” known as It’s Going Down.
The campaign also offers a toolkit intended to amplify its message through sharing tweets, posts, and graphics “customized to specific swing states.”
The final section of the site lists endorsers who have joined the campaign to actively promote the dual goals of the campaign.
Far left-wing radical activists assisting the initiative
Vote Trump Out has joined forces with a roster of the most radical veteran left-wing activists in order to achieve its goals and lend credibility to its efforts. A partial list follows, in no particular order.
Noam Chomsky: A world-famous and influential linguist, philosopher, and anarchist, Chomsky is known for his attacks on capitalism, “American imperialism,” and the Vietnam War. In recent months, Chomsky referred to President Trump as “the worst criminal in human history,” whose “dedication” to destroying human life is more intense than Hitler’s, and also claimed that Trump’s rally supporters resemble the crowds at Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. Chomsky told the BBC that, unlike ISIS or North Korea, the Republican Party is “dedicated to destroying the prospects for organized human existence.”
Linda Sarsour: With a long history of antisemitic comments which resulted in her discharge from the Women’s March in January, Sarsour has worked with the notorious racist Louis Farrakhan, speaking at a Nation of Islam event and defending his organization. Sarsour, a leader of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, has called for “jihad” (Islamic holy war) against Trump, while urging Muslims to declare that opposing Trump is a religious duty under Islam.
Sarsour addressed the DNC convention on Tuesday in a caucus meeting for Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly, stating “The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is absolutely our party in this moment.” The party’s willingness to grant Sarsour a platform is a clear sign of the power the Vote Trump Out movement has within the Democratic Party — power it requires to implement its extreme agenda.
Medea Benjamin: Benjamin is a co-founder of CODEPINK, a leader within the BDS movement, and a member of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). In May 2009, Benjamin led a CODEPINK delegation to Gaza which was welcomed by Hamas officials. (Only a month earlier, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas for executing and torturing Palestinians.) While CODEPINK has organized a slew of delegations to Gaza, Benjamin personally met with senior Hamas officials and even relayed a letter from one to then-President Obama.
In September 2008, several CODEPINK leaders met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York City. Critics have accused CODEPINK of working closely with terrorist organizations and states sponsors of terrorism in Gaza and Iran.
Recently, Benjamin’s CODEPINK denounced the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) peace deal, claiming that “it strengthens the Israel-US-Gulf alliance against Iran,” as Breitbart News reported.
James Zogby: The president of the anti-Israel Arab American Institute, Zogby — Sanders’ stated go-to source for foreign policy advice — is notoriously anti-Israel, describing Hezbollah terrorists as “the Lebanese armed resistance” and comparing Israel to the Nazi regime. Zogby has attempted to justify Palestinian terrorism by claiming that he sought to understand “why the perpetrators [of terrorist acts] acted as they did or why there are people whose anger and despair bring them to support this or that crime.”
Zogby, who served as a delegate on the 2016 Democratic platform committee, told Foreign Policy that he is “baffled” by the refusal to insert the word “occupation” into this year’s policy platform, but noted “this is the first time we [the party platform] have mentioned the word ‘settlement’ and the first time we have called for an independent, viable Palestinian state. It’s a better platform.”
Ady Barkan: A prominent voice for Medicare for All, Barkan addressed the DNC on Tuesday in a prime slot explaining his support for Biden and his vision for single-payer healthcare. Barkan is an organizer with the Soros-backed Center for Popular Democracy Action (CPD), which is highly involved in anti-Trump activism.
In May 2017, CNN reported that the CPD Action fund unveiled an “$80 million effort to coordinate the work of dozens of smaller progressive groups from around the country” as part of what the network characterized as the anti-Trump “resistance” movement. Barkan described the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks as functions of “America’s commitment to white supremacy.”
John Cusack: The celebrity actor-turned-radical activist has frequently railed against the Trump administration and recently joined rioters in embattled Portland in a show of support, while referring to federal agents sent to restore order as “stormtroopers.”
In June, Cusack shared an anti-Semitic cartoon and quote after attempting to defend the image. The tweet featured a Star of David atop a hand pushing down on people with a false quote from philosopher Voltaire which read, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Cusack added, “Follow the money.”
Earlier this year, Cusack joined the growing list of climate alarmists who have declared that the planet has only a decade left to stem global warming and the “predatory capitalism” which purportedly facilitates it.
“We know this form of capitalism takes and takes; it takes whatever, whenever, however it wants,” Cusack said in a speech introducing presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
Bill Fletcher Jr.: Fletcher is a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USACBI), which focuses on boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions. He is also a listed member of the Democratic Socialists of America International Committee. In a talk with Marx200.org, an online platform that seeks to reinvigorate Marxist ideology, he elaborated on the “Black contribution to Marxism,” and how “capitalism is based on slave trade and colonialism, the relationship between labor and race, and the need to organize.”
Fletcher was a co-founder of the Black Radical Congress and is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies — a Soros financed group that heavily pushed the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration.
In early 2008, Fletcher, along with Barbara Ehrenreich (another endorser for Vote Trump Out), Danny Glover, and Tom Hayden, initiated Progressives for Obama, which echoed similar themes to the current Vote Trump Out initiative when announcing its formation.
Barbara Ehrenreich: Honorary Chairwoman of the Democratic Socialists of America and member of the Board of Trustees of the radical Institute for Policy Studies (along with Chomsky and Fletcher), Ehrenreich once proudly celebrated the re-release of the Communist Manifesto on its 150th anniversary in 1998.
On September 20, 2001, Ehrenreich was a guest speaker at a New York City gathering to honor the work of Richard Cloward (co-creator of the Cloward-Piven Strategy that seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism), who died a month earlier. Other speakers included such notables as Howard Zinn, Joel Rogers, June Jordan, Gus Newport, Tim Sampson, Cornel West, Miles Rappaport, and Frances Fox Piven.
Leslie Cagan: Cagan has been a member of the Communist Left since the 1960s and was former co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, a radical anti-war coalition. She co-founded numerous radical groups, including the Committees of Correspondence (a splinter group of the Communist Party USA) and Iraq Occupation Watch (along with Medea Benjamin) — whose mission was to encourage widespread desertion by “conscientious objectors” in the U.S. military.
In 2011, Cagan was the coordinator of The Audacity of Hope, an American boat (named after Barack Obama’s 2006 memoir) that was scheduled to participate in a Free Gaza Movement flotilla in late June of that year.
To see a full list of radical endorsers for Vote Trump Out, visit endorsers
With radicals on the left anticipating a revolution this November, a Biden presidency is being hailed as the long-awaited realization of some of the most extreme ideas on the left.
“If elected, Biden will likely be the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Bernie Sanders believes. “The day after Biden is elected, we’ll be mobilizing people all over this country to move his administration in as progressive a direction as is possible.”
In the words of Vote Trump Out head, Norman Solomon, “We’re trying to save the Biden campaign from itself.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.