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Democrats Sell Out Dreamers. Is ‘Power to the Polls’ Really the Answer?

This weekend hundreds of thousands mobilized against Trump. But is the slogan power to the polls the solution?

Tatiana Cozzarelli

January 22, 2018
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Image from Women’s March Twitter

This weekend, hundreds of thousands women all over the country marched against Trump. After months of low activism, it became clear that widespread disgust with Trump and rejection of his border wall, tax breaks for billionaires and attempts to cut healthcare for millions of Americans could be expressed in a massive street mobilization. It became clear that for thousands of women, it was not enough to watch Hollywood stars say #MeToo. The women who tweeted, wrote and spoke about their experiences of sexual violence took their activism beyond their computer screens.

The main call of the organizers of the Women’s March was “Power to the Polls” — a unabashed attempt to get women to vote for the Democrats in November’s midterm elections. It is an attempt channel the anti-Trump sentiment and all of the activism around #MeToo as a campaign rally for the Democratic Party. Thus, the marches were such an entirely symbolic show of force that no one was threatened by it — not even Donald Trump, who tweeted his “support” for the march.

At the exact same time that hundreds of thousands of people mobilized around the country against Trump’s policies, the Democrats in the Senate were negotiating away the rights of Dreamers, resulting in Monday Senate vote to end the government shut down without a single assurance that DACA would be protected or that Dreamers would be safe from deportations. After all of the Democrats’ talk about defending Dreamers, the party leaders sold out hundreds of thousands of undocumented people all over the country. Only 16 Senate Democrats and two Republicans voted against the funding bill.

On Saturday, we could have and should have marched for the rights of Dreamers. We could have and should have marched with the slogan “immigrants rights are women’s rights”. We should have shut it down for the girl scared to go to speak up after she is abused due to her undocumented status, and for the mother whose family is torn apart by deportation. We should have marched for Siham Byah, the social justice activist and single mother deported to Morocco. We should have used the power of the thousands of us in the streets to call attention to and support the struggles of Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants around the U.S. Instead at the same time that the Democrats negotiated selling out undocumented immigrants, the organizers of the Women’s March called on us to vote for them.

So, we have to ask ourselves — power to the polls for what? To vote for Democrats who sell out undocumented immigrants and whose opposition to Trump in the past year hasn’t gone beyond the entirely impotent strategy of voting against him while being in the minority in the House and the Senate? Why would take our power in the streets and our power as working class people to the polls to vote for the Democrats?

Our power is in the streets.
Our power is in our workplaces.
Our power is in rank and file organizing in our unions.
Our power is in our ability to shut it down and in our ability to strike; it’s in our ability to organize as an independent force to fight for all the rights that the Democrats and Republicans want to strip away.

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Tatiana Cozzarelli

Tatiana is a former middle school teacher and current Urban Education PhD student at CUNY.

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