Did a China-based American communist help flip Virginia?
Trevor Loudon | The Epoch Times* | November 14, 2019 Updated: November 14, 2019
It’s official. The once deep-red Commonwealth of Virginia is now a blue state. As a result of the Nov. 5 election, Democrats now hold all three of the statewide constitutional offices, both U.S. Senate seats, the majority of its Congress members, and both chambers of the State House.
The group in question, New Virginia Majority (NVM), has exploited Virginia’s changing population and “liberal bleed out” from the Washington area to flip not just Northern Virginia but also districts across the state. Based in Alexandria and Richmond, NVM has sent hundreds of paid workers and volunteers out across the commonwealth to register and send to the polls hundreds of thousands of new voters—all under the nose of the Virginia Republican Party.
The Democrats have flipped two state Senate seats and now hold a 10-vote advantage in the Assembly. NVM endorsed and supported 23 Virginia candidates this cycle and won with 15 of them, including two state Senate races and nine Assembly victories.
The 15 who were endorsed by NVM and won are:
- Ghazala Hashmi, Virginia Senate District 10
- John Bell, Virginia Senate District 13
- Wendy Gooditis, House District 10
- Kelly Convirs-Fowler, House District 21
- Elizabeth Guzman, House District 31
- Dan Helmer, House District 40
- Kathy Tran, House District 42
- Hala Ayala, House District 51
- Schuyler VanValkenburg, House District 72
- Rodney Willett, House District 73
- Shelly Simonds, House District 94
- Steve Descano, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney
- Parisi Deghani-Tafti, Arlington County and Fall’s Church Commonwealth’s Attorney
- Buta Biberaj, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney
- Phyllis Randall, Chair Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
None of this electoral success was down to luck or changing demographics alone.
NVM Co-Chair Tram Nguyen has already published an op-ed in The New York Times saying, “Democrats could learn a lot from what happened in Virginia.” The message? “Democrats, do what we did in Virginia—everywhere.” By going after the minority vote with mass voter registration drives, you can flip almost any state.
According to Nguyen:
“The national Democratic Party spent millions in Virginia this year, but the state wasn’t always such a priority. From its position in the South to its prominent role in America’s legacy of oppression, Virginia was long considered reliably conservative—unbreakable. As recently as six years ago, Republicans controlled the office of the governor and the General Assembly.
“Local organizations like mine understood the political potential of Virginia when we got started 12 years ago. We are winning because we recognize the power of an electorate that includes and reflects the diversity of our state. We don’t talk to voters only when campaign season rolls around. We try to reach voters of all colors, women, low-income workers and young people where they are, which has made it possible for us to develop a robust base of support along Virginia’s so-called Urban Crescent, from Northern Virginia to Hampton Roads. Long before Election Day, we registered more than 300,000 voters, knocked on more than 2.5 million doors, and organized within communities of color to help win significant policy changes like Medicaid expansion, which covered nearly 400,000 people.”
Nguyen (who was part of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s transition team) also went on to explain the importance of the ex-convict vote.
“Virginia’s state constitution bars anyone with a felony conviction from voting until their rights have been restored by the governor. For more than nine years, we organized formerly incarcerated women and men to help them demand that their full civil rights be restored. The former governor, Terry McAuliffe, restored the voting rights of more than 173,000 Virginians during his term, more than any other governor in Virginia’s history. In 2016, of the nearly 20,000 men and women who registered to vote for the first time as a result of the restoration of their rights, a whopping 79 percent voted. They were a key voting bloc in Virginia, the only Southern state that Hillary Clinton won.”
NVM worked closely with McAuliffe to win ex-felon voting rights. The organization actually gave the governor an award at its annual dinner for his sterling work.
And the path to success lies in organizing and energizing minority voters who already lean left, but normally vote at very low rates:
“Changes in the shape of the electorate and rising enthusiasm among voters can only go so far, without campaign architecture that channels those changes into tangible political outcomes. …
“Engaging meaningfully with voters of color means talking to tens of thousands of voters to make sure they have the information they need to cast their ballots even after receiving racist Republican campaign communications. … We didn’t need to persuade voters to embrace our worldview—they were already there on the issues. They just needed to be convinced that their vote mattered. To give one example of how this works in practical terms, in precincts in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, turnout this year increased by 24 percent over 2017. …
“States don’t become battlegrounds overnight. Democrats and national progressive organizations have the resources to take their case to the people and win, but they have to start early and organize relentlessly. When they lose, they have to stay in place and keep fighting for every political inch they can get. No place is unwinnable forever.”
All this would be serious enough if NVM members were merely well-meaning “liberal Democrats,” which unfortunately isn’t the case.
NVM is a front for Liberation Road, known until April this year as Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the United States’ most influential Maoist organization.
NVM is led by longtime FRSO/Liberation Road cadre Jon Liss of Alexandria. Several FRSO cadres have served in NVM over the years, as have many activists from two NVM satellite groups, LeftRoots and the Virginia Student Power Network.
FRSO/Liberation Road comes out of the militantly pro-China American Maoist student movement of the 1970s. While it’s more discreet about its Chinese loyalties these days, several of its leading supporters maintain close ties to the People’s Republic.
Fred Engst is a longtime FRSO supporter. Born to U.S. communist parents and raised in China, Engst was educated in the United States, where he became immersed in Maoist politics. He returned to China in 2007 and is now teaching at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
Alex Tom, a leader of LeftRoots and the pro-Beijing San Francisco-based Chinese Progressive Association, in 2012 formed the China Education and Exposure Program to “build a deeper analysis of China for US progressives and leftists and to build relationships with the grassroots movement in China,” according to his 2013 LeftForum speaker’s bio.
John Marienthal, a San Jose-based FRSO member, has been a leader of the pro-Beijing U.S.–China Peoples Friendship Association for more than 40 years and has taught in several Chinese educational establishments since the 1980s.
Steve McClure is a former Washington resident who, in the 1970s, was active in the pro-Mao Revolutionary Student Brigade. He has close ties to FRSO and NVM. Since 2010, he has worked with the Geography Department of Wuhan University in China, and he is a research associate with the State Key Laboratory of Engineering Information in Surveying, Mapping, and Remote Sensing at the university.
McClure has used his skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to supply highly targeted voter identification information to NVM.
As far back as 2005, McClure was using GIS technology to identify low-income voters for Liss’s Tenant Workers Support Committee. McClure “plotted lower-income, high-rental housing areas to get a picture of where there was affordable housing in Northern Virginia,” according to the Mason Gazette. This information probably proved very useful when Liss established NVM two years later.
According to an Aug. 25, 2011, post on McClure’s blog:
“I have been recently working with New Virginia Majority to make a series of maps to inform planning for precinct walks in Virginia State house districts. … The core data are lists of individual households by pan-ethnic census categories. … The results are subjective but do suggest … the ways that actual communities conform or diverge from the discrete territorial units which define an electoral terrain in a democracy.”
All this wasn’t theoretical. It was designed to help NVM flip districts across the state by micro-targeting potential Democratic voters in low-income and minority communities. In another post, he wrote:
“In the general elections of 2008, Virginia voted Democratic for the first time since 1964 with Obama carrying the state. Demographic shifts and increased voter participation rather than a shift in political allegiances account for this outcome. …
“Focusing on Prince William County, Virginia, I applied spatial interpolation techniques in a GIS to translate the 2008 election returns from the geography of precincts to year 2000 zoning classification areas for further quantitative analysis. The goal was to produce actionable intelligence for working class organizations building popular power at the base. …
“The results are presented as maps and diagrams which might illuminate challenges and opportunities for organizations engaging with electoral efforts.”
McClure is still actively engaged in giving advice to his U.S. comrades on winning elections for the Democrats.
An article co-written by McClure and Bob Wing, “The Importance of the Fight for the South—and Why It Can and Must Be Won,” appeared on the Liberation Road-linked website Organizing Upgrade on Sept. 4, 2017. It states:
“The far right, racism, militarism, inequality, and poverty are all centered in the South. The majority of African Americans, the main protagonist of progressive politics in this country, live in the South. And the South has more electoral votes, battleground state votes, population, and congresspersons than any other region.
“The South is changing rapidly, giving rise to more progressive demographic groups—especially Black and Latino migrations, LGBTQs and urbanites—and a growing Democratic vote. These trends can only be maximized if the importance of the South is understood as a strategic necessity and the chance to win state by state, is acknowledged and acted upon.
“Hard as the fight is and will be, downplaying the Southern struggle is a losing political strategy and forfeits the moral high ground on the biggest issues facing the country.”
McClure and Wing (another “former” Maoist associated with FRSO) argue that to destroy the Republican Party in the South, black communities must be targeted and mobilized to vote:
“(1) A critical mass of Southern states can and must be won if we are to block or defeat the right in presidential elections. Three of the five or so critical battleground states are in the South: Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. Southern blue and battleground states plus Washington D.C. hold 38 percent of the electoral votes needed to win.
“(2) Winning an anti-rightwing congressional majority depends on winning in the South, as the South has a bigger congressional delegation than any other region and Southern congresspersons also hold key leadership posts within the Republican Party’s congressional hierarchies.
“(3) There are tremendous opportunities to build progressive political power and governance at the local level in the South as 105 counties have a Black majority. …
“While some might dismiss the South, focusing strategically on the Northeast and Pacific Coast as central to a progressive program and the Midwest as the main political battleground, the South’s dynamic growth, historical legacy of Black struggle and powerful political weight make it a critical battlefield.
“The nuance is that the South cannot be won as a bloc, but only state by state and county by county. In fact, winning the South in large part means understanding that it is not a monolithic entity and winning it piece by piece: i.e. politically deconstructing the South.”
President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 shocked the left and, according to McClure and Wing, has made their goal of flipping the South even more urgent:
“This essay was prepared in March 2015, prior to the 2016 election season that eventually resulted in Donald Trump’s victory. However, the far rightwing’s capture of the presidency makes this essay’s main arguments even more important. …
“The South is the key center of the far right and the Republican Party; neither can be defeated without battling for the South.”
Liberation Road has a large presence in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina (Durham for All), and Florida (the New Florida Majority). Now that Virginia is safely in the Democrat column, look to see an upsurge of Maoist electoral activity in North Carolina and Florida to turn those states blue in 2020; Tennessee and Georgia will be next. Then, Texas.
Trump has been tougher on Beijing than has any other president in living memory. It’s no secret that China doesn’t like Trump and would love to see him defeated in 2020.
Rather than risk war, or suffer huge economic setbacks, wouldn’t it be much cheaper and easier to use China’s American assets, such as Liberation Road, to ensure Trump’s defeat by “democratic” means?
It’s inconceivable that the Chinese government didn’t know what McClure was up to. After all, they presumably pay his salary or living costs while he is in China.
It’s clear that Liberation Road is tied to China. It’s also clear that their front-group NVM is heavily involved in U.S. electoral politics and played a decisive role in turning Virginia blue. It’s also obvious that Liberation Road’s goal is to destroy President Trump and the Republican Party to pave the way for a socialist America.
Is there Chinese “collusion” here? Do we need investigations and executive action against these subversive groups before they’re able to fully realize their goals? With less than a year until the 2020 election, there’s not much time left to do so.
Photo credit: Virginia voters head to the polls at Nottingham Elementary School Nov. 5, 2019, in Arlington, Va. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.
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*Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.