Elections always matter, but this is the most consequential election of our lifetime, says AFT President Randi Weingarten, which is why the AFT—in the midst of a pandemic—is launching a multistate bus tour beginning Sept. 30. The AFT Votes bus will kick off the tour in Los Angeles and continue across the country until nearly Election Day, with stops from west to east and north to south.
The nation is in the midst of four crises—a health pandemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning with racism and a climate emergency—all made worse by President Trump, says Weingarten. “Now the president is not just shattering democratic norms, he is putting the very existence of American democracy on the line—creating the most existential of crises—by threatening to reject the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election, and by ramming through a nomination for the Supreme Court in defiance of popular will and precedent.”
Weingarten will be joined by AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram and AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus on the tour. The tour will promote and use all of the AFT’s election outreach strategies in this unprecedented year of organizing, by engaging members, friends and family through peer-to-peer texting, phone banking and the popular AFTvotes app.
“We’ll be talking to our colleagues, our friends and families, and others in our communities about the stakes in this election and about the choices,” Weingarten says. “And we will be urging people to use their voice and make a difference by voting, either in person or by mail, because every American’s well-being and future, as well as our democracy, depend on the outcome of this election.”
Elections are always about choices, but this election is about who will help solve the issues that keep us up at night—healthcare, decent wages and jobs, and our kids’ education and future,” says Weingarten. She points to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the leaders our country needs—leaders who will confront the multiple crises we face and help build a fairer and more just America. “To create real change,” Weingarten says, “we must elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—and a Democratic Senate to help a Democratic House of Representatives. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will fight for working families.”
The bus tour is expected to stop in at least 15 states with more than 30 election events in support of Biden and Harris. All events will be held using strict COVID-19 protocols. “We will be wearing masks and social distancing, and of course getting tested, to ensure everyone is safe,” Weingarten emphasizes.
The AFT Votes bus will roll into Florida during the last week of October and conclude with a final stop in Miami on Nov. 1.
“The AFT will stop at nothing to end this nightmare, fight for people’s dignity and fulfill this country’s founding promise,” says Weingarten. “And the solution to all of this is activism and voting—by mail or in person, early or on Election Day. Everything we do—this bus tour, the fight for a COVID-19 stimulus, confronting these crises, the Supreme Court fight, our GOTV work—is about preserving our democracy and making people’s lives better.”
[Adrienne Coles, AFT press release]