In These Times - November 5, 2020

DSA-backed can­di­dates suc­ceed for a few main rea­sons: They cam­paign on actu­al poli­cies, have a vision of how to gov­ern, and don’t just depend on the fact that they’re not Repub­li­cans. These poli­cies include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and a Jobs Guar­an­tee — pro­grams that would improve the qual­i­ty of life for work­ing peo­ple all over this coun­try. And because poli­cies they sup­port are so pop­u­lar and inspir­ing, DSA-backed can­di­dates attract ded­i­cat­ed can­vassers and orga­niz­ers, will­ing to spend nights and week­ends knock­ing doors and mak­ing calls to get them elected.

While many had hoped that Elec­tion Day would result in a sweep­ing rebuke of Trump and Trump­ism, nei­ther a pan­dem­ic nor an eco­nom­ic reces­sion were enough to deliv­er an over­whelm­ing rejec­tion. And although it’s look­ing like­ly that Biden will eke out a vic­to­ry, the 2020 elec­tion was in many ways a bust for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, which lost seats in the House and most like­ly did not win a major­i­ty in the Senate.

But demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism, pop­u­lar­ized by near-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.), had a much bet­ter night. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca (DSA), an orga­ni­za­tion that boasts near­ly 80,000 mem­bers nation­wide, endorsed 29 can­di­dates and 11 bal­lot ini­tia­tives, win­ning 20 and 8 respec­tive­ly. There are now demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist cau­cus­es in 15 state­hous­es, includ­ing Mon­tana. (Dis­clo­sure: I am a nation­al­ly elect­ed leader of the orga­ni­za­tion; I sit on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ist Labor Commission.)

DSA’s vic­to­ries, both in the pri­maries and the gen­er­al elec­tion, have rolled in as pun­dits and poll­sters decry social­ism as polar­iz­ing and raise fears that social­ist can­di­dates will end up back­fir­ing and get­ting Repub­li­cans elect­ed. Sanders’ sup­posed lack of elec­tabil­i­ty was one of the most com­mon­ly used argu­ments against him in the pri­ma­ry. His pri­ma­ry oppo­nents and promi­nent writ­ers like Jonathan Chait claimed that the vast major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans wouldn’t vote for a social­ist, and that there was no way he could defeat Trump. ...
Read full report at In These Times