On 3 September 2016, news and current events blog NewsBusters posted an article claiming that the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) had endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The claim was contextualized with the idea that the media at large was ignoring the story in favor of reporting on the fact that a Klansman had thrown his support behind Clinton’s (ultimately victorious) rival, Donald Trump:
So with all this attention to Trump on David Duke, surely you read the news about John Bachtell, right? He endorsed Hillary and the headlines were everywhere. Oh, wait, sorry. Mr. Bachtell’s Hillary endorsement was apparently not newsy enough to make the mainstream media headlines. Curious, yes? If the endorsement of Trump by the ex-head of the Ku Klux Klan is big news, one would expect a Hillary endorsement by the head of the Communist Party USA would be a big deal as well.
It may indeed have been a big deal — if it were true. CPUSA sent us a statement emphasizing that the group had not endorsed Clinton, or any other candidate:
The answer to your question is NO. In 2016 CPUSA did not have any candidates on the ballot, but nevertheless it does not issue endorsements of candidates of other parties. The Communist Party does, however, encourage all Americans to participate fully in the electoral process, voting and working with their unions and other community organizations in the pursuit of the goals of protecting the environment, union rights, immigrant rights, peace, raising the minimum wage, ending police abuse of African American, Indian and Latino Americans and other social justice issues that value people before profits and address the struggles of the 99%.
As proof for their claim, NewsBusters links to a piece written by CPUSA chair John Bachtell on the blog People’s World, in which he urges progressive voters to cast their ballots for the Democratic ticket and to strive to influence the prospective Clinton administration with organization and activism.
It is not a formal endorsement of Clinton, but a call to vote against Trump:
Some are voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein to “send a message.” Still others hope a Clinton defeat provokes a crisis in the Democratic Party leading to its break-up.
Others see the danger of Trump and want to defeat him. But like Sanders supporter and RootsAction.org founder Norman Solomon, they advocate a “safe state” strategy: vote for Clinton in the battleground states to ensure she wins but vote Green Party in the solidly blue (safe) or solidly red states.
This is a flawed strategy. First, like it or not, we have a two party system. One of the two major parties will win and govern. If this were a parliamentary democracy different tactics would be called for.
Wall Street interests may dominate both parties but they reflect vastly different electoral coalitions and class, racial and social make up.
After it became clear in July 2016 that Clinton’s rival in the primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders, would not be the Democratic nominee, CPUSA did issue a statement urging members to vote against Trump, even if they didn’t particularly care for Clinton. The group did not, however, formally endorse Clinton, Sanders, or any other candidate in the 8 November 2016 presidential election.