We are on the precipice of Election Day — Nov. 3, 2020. Most mail-in ballots have been cast and plans have been made on how to get to one’s polling station. While this election has been on the minds of most Americans for the past four years, none of us could have imagined it like this.
Our country is in the midst of coinciding crises: the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession comparable in severity to 2008. Now that the CARES Act has reached its conclusion, Americans are facing indefinite unemployment with little to no federal assistance. Evictions have begun en masse across the country as people struggle to scrape enough money together to pay rent while buying food for their family and covering other bills. The threat of coronavirus looms heavily over a largely uninsured or underinsured working class. In particular, Black and brown families suffer the most from our government’s failure to accommodate the people during this unprecedented time.
This miserable situation calls for a vast socialist program and organizing a coalition to pass policies such as Medicare for All and Housing for All. Yet, we are stuck choosing between two capitalists whose loyalties belong to their corporate donors above all else. There is a clear distinction between the two candidates: while a vote for Trump is a vote for fascism, racism and xenophobia, a vote for Biden is a return to normal.
But a return to normal will not solve our country’s most pressing needs. The “normal” that predated Trump sanctioned police brutality and institutional racism against the Black community, created an existential climate crisis with record-breaking temperatures and natural disasters and fostered the conditions that allowed Trump to come to power in the first place.
Many young people feel frustrated and disillusioned with the electoral system, having to choose between two candidates who largely don’t represent their beliefs. They feel as if they have no control over the future of the nation.
That’s why we founded our Students for Bernie chapter and organized for a Bernie Sanders presidency last year. We had a vision of a radically different future where the multiracial working class was entitled to a more comprehensive set of economic, social and political rights. When the Sanders campaign came to an end, we knew our organizing couldn’t stop. We had to carry on this movement and bring about the political revolution ourselves. So we merged with Yale Young Democratic Socialists of America.
YDSA is the youth section of DSA — the nation’s largest socialist organization, recently numbering 75,000 members. DSA is not a political party, but rather a mass-membership organization of dedicated, lifelong socialists who focus on building working-class power through a variety of means. There are two crucial components to DSA’s strategy: workplace organizing and electoral politics.
Socialists view the workplace as a site of strategic leverage to fight for both better working conditions and higher wages and benefits, as well as our broader program of racial, economic and social justice. Those in positions of power depend on workers and production; when this work stops, they are forced to meet the demands of the workers if they want to continue making a profit. The act of organizing is inherently intimidating to those in the capitalist class because they recognize the immense power of collective action. This is not merely theory. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, DSA has partnered with United Electrical to form the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee that has helped workers unite to win COVID-19-related demands across the country.
While socialists primarily build power from workplace organizing, we recognize that law-making power is necessary to represent the working class. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, as well as candidates Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman, are democratic socialists. Their electoral successes have been bolstered by local DSA chapters.
Although we look forward to expelling a fascist from office in the coming days, the election of Joe Biden will not make any substantial improvements in our lives or the lives of our loved ones. Our communities still need universal healthcare, a living wage, affordable housing and the end to systemic racism and oppression. If Joe Biden wins, we will celebrate the survival of our democracy on Nov. 3 and recommit ourselves to socialist organizing on Nov. 4. Socialism is a movement of solidarity that finds strength in community and support from others in whatever form they may take. During this time of social isolation and a gloomy electoral future, socialism reminds us that we stand together in our fight.
ARIA FALCONE is a junior in Silliman College. MELAT ESKENDER is a sophomore in Morse College. They are both on the organizing committee of Yale YDSA. Contact them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.