JACKSON, Miss.—The Poor People’s Campaign has exceeded its national goal of reaching five million low-income and low-propensity voters, co-chairs the Revs. William Barber II and Liz Theoharis announced on Oct. 30. And it isn’t going to stop there.
Instead, the drive scheduled a big boost with a National Virtual Get Out the Vote rally, scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 3. Participants can access it here.
“We won’t stop until we see a society that lifts from the bottom,” their tweet declared. The theme of the rally, it added, is: “If we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we need to vote now.”
While that theme refers to preserving democracy as well as expanding it, Barber, in an Oct. 30 sermon just before a rally the next day in Jackson, Miss., made it clear that the campaign’s wide-ranging agenda still is a top priority—and that it can be achieved if hordes of poor and low-wealth people head to the polls on Nov. 8.
“It may not be the whole pool” of voters, Barber said then. “But it can change the pool.”
“If you want to be whole, act as though you don’t have to accept this level of misery, you don’t have to accept this level of pain, you don’t have to accept this level of oppression, you don’t have to accept this level of abandonment, you don’t have to accept this level of hopelessness,” the veteran pastor preached, quoting Jesus Christ.
“Instead, stay focused on transformational change. You can be made whole” by voting to change away from politicians who follow the rich and oppress others.
Barber, whose movement now has chapters in at least 45 states, re-emphasized that poor and low-wealth people—who numbered 140 million even before the coronavirus pandemic hit 2-1/2 years ago—can change the political calculus only if they vote as a mass and do it together.
“The truth of the matter is that what if, in spite of all the misery and all the pain because of all the bad policies of Caesar”—Christ’s oppressor, but also a stand-in for today’s oppressive politicians—“and because of all the hatefulness,” people “decided to turn their misery into a movement?”
Then, he said, “you can change attitudes right now. You can decide this election. This America doesn’t have to be like this.
“You can decide we go in another direction,” he urged. “[We have] the power to organize this misery into a powerful group that refuses to accept things the way they are.” Voters “are not just to be acted upon,” he reminded listeners.
The Poor People’s Campaign has a track record to build on for achieving those electoral goals. It turned out enough poor and low-wealth voters in 2020 to help swing key states away from candidates full of hate for poor and low-wealth people and towards their foes. For Barber personally, the haters included Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, as he told his daughter one evening.
Besides joining the massive GOTV national rally, supporters can also go to this link to join the campaign’s text banking, or call up the hashtag #OurVotesAreDemands.
National Virtual Get Out the Vote rally – Nov. 3rd at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Sign up now.
Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.
People’s World, November 3, 2022, https://peoplesworld.org/