Defending American Democracy 
October 30, 2020


Whereas, the American democracy has been overtly threatened through voter suppression, misinformation, scare tactics, and other actions limiting the full voice and will of the people; and

Whereas, Donald Trump’s presidency has been defined by a series of attacks on democratic institutions and fundamental norms of our government and civil society, including assaults on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free press, the separation of governmental powers, the right to protest, equality under the law, the freedom of association of working people, the rights of Black, indigenous, and people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people and believers in minority religious faiths, and more; and

Whereas, in the final weeks leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, in the midst of a surging coronavirus pandemic, and as Americans are voting, Donald Trump and his supporters have mounted an offensive attack on the very foundation of democracy — the power of the people to choose their government through free and fair elections; and

Whereas, American democracy is based on a peaceful and an orderly transfer of power and Donald Trump has refused to state he will accept the results of the election; and 

Whereas, democracy is a defining principle of our work as educators and classified professionals and a core value of who we are as unionists and citizens; and 

Whereas, our vote is our voice and sacred right upon which freedom depends; and

Therefore, be it resolved, that the California Federation of Teachers will adopt the four propositions from AFT’s resolution titled, “Protecting American Democracy.”

  • Every American citizen registered to vote must be able to vote. In the context of the current pandemic, voters must have the ability to cast their ballot in ways that do not endanger their health, such as mail ballots and early voting, as well as sufficient ways to vote on November 3. There must be sufficient numbers of polling stations and election officials for all voters to vote. Intimidation of voters must not be allowed to stand.
  • Every vote must be counted. Given the unprecedented numbers of votes that have been cast early and by mail, the final tally will not be known on election night. Indeed, there may not be enough of a vote count available on November 3 to project who has won. Counting must continue until all votes have been counted.
  • The electoral verdict of “we the people” must be respected. It is not the right of those in power — whether they be in the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, or in state capitols and local governments — to decide who governs us. It is the right of the people, and the people alone. The reins (or leadership) of government must be transferred peacefully to the choice of the people.
  • We will not be intimidated. AFT members have a proud tradition of engaging in the peaceful struggle for American democracy. In the tradition of our teachers, Martin Luther King Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, we will organize and participate in peaceful, nonviolent mass protests against any efforts to thwart free and fair elections and to undermine American democracy. When democracy is in danger, we will be in the streets and in our workplaces with our colleagues in the labor movement and allies in the community, defending it against its enemies — foreign and domestic.

Therefore, be it further resolved, in the coming days, CFT will do everything in our power to support our fellow citizens in the effort to exercise their democratic franchise and cast their votes. We will remain engaged with fellow democracy defenders to see that those votes are counted and the will of the people reflected in the peaceful transition of power to the legitimate winners of our free and fair elections; and

Therefore, be it finally resolved, CFT will accept the legitimate outcome of the election regardless of the victor, but we will do whatever it takes to stand by our commitment to reject election interference, threats, tampering, stealing, acts of violence or other actions that undermine the will of the people in this exercise of Americans’ democracy.

  • Passed by the Executive Council on October 30, 2020