Today, the socialist struggle advances steadily on every front. In early 2020, the most decisive fight is the campaign to elect Bernie Sanders. Bernie’s campaign brings to a head years of social movement struggles. His platform, similar in many ways to the one we’ve outlined here, is the most ambitious platform of any credible candidate in the history of the United States. His campaign continues to inspire millions of working people to see themselves as part of a united working class that can win a better life for all.
Win or lose, the Bernie campaign is reshaping American politics by inspiring primarily young, working-class activists. As the Democratic Socialists of America, we’re waging a class-struggle, independent campaign to help elect Bernie, first and foremost because we want to be part of building that new movement of activists and giving them the experience to run a national campaign. We’re running an independent campaign because we know that one-off electoral campaigns alone aren’t enough — we need to build democratic organizations like DSA for the long haul, train organizers, and tie together different struggles.
But we also believe that of all the candidates running for president, Bernie has by far the best chance to beat Donald Trump on November 3rd. That’s why we’re going all-out to make sure Bernie wins the primary.
If Bernie wins the primary and goes on to win the presidency, we could be entering a new period of struggle that is unprecedented in recent U.S. history.
That won’t be the case if our movement demobilizes after Election Day. If that happens, Bernie’s ambitious program would be dead on arrival even if the Democrats retake Congress, because the overwhelming majority of Democratic Party politicians are bought and sold by corporate lobbyists. They will not fight for any of the programs at the center of Bernie’s and DSA’s platforms.
But if, on the other hand, we rise to the occasion and escalate our activity, we can win major gains. Fighting for our platform regardless of which of the two major parties controls Congress in 2021 will involve starting a permanent campaign from day one. We will need massive mobilizations on the scale of what is happening in Chile, France, Lebanon, and beyond — mobilizations that physically prevent business-as-usual from being carried out and create the space for Bernie to demand Congress enact major concessions to the working class. And we will need to immediately begin preparing for the 2022 midterm elections to replace recalcitrant Democrats and every Republican with working-class leaders who are ready to enact the emancipatory demands and universal programs that are so desperately needed.
Work on that front is already under way. Alongside Bernie’s campaign, DSA is running down-ballot candidates all over the country for Congress, state legislatures, city councils, and the courts. Inside and outside our Bernie campaign, we’re developing the next generation of socialist, working-class leaders who understand how to win elections and use them to build working-class consciousness and multracial organization. We are electing officials who will use their office to grow popular support for our democratic socialist demands and mobilize their supporters into long term, working-class fights. And we’re building the necessary counter-power outside of the halls of “official politics” — from transformed unions to tenant associations and propaganda projects. Regardless of whether Bernie wins or loses, this work is laying the groundwork to win a better world.