During the first meeting of the UConn Storrs Young Democratic Socialists of America, one of the major topics of conversation was the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. While the DSA as a national organization has already voted several months ago to endorse the Senator’s candidacy, being a democratic organization we felt it necessary to vote on our support as an individual chapter. After a brief discussion the vote passed in favor of the endorsement at around the same rate as the national organization, about 3:1. The main opposition to the action came from a left position of anti-electoralism, which can be summarized as opposing participation in bourgeois democracy as an ineffective vehicle for change on the grounds that the entire political system is under the control of the capitalist class. Ultimately most of us decided that the pressing issues of climate change and extreme economic inequality necessitate the full support of Bernie Sanders. Another four years of Donald Trump or any of the other center-right contenders would further enrich/empower the ruling class and do irreparable harm to the environment.
Senator Sanders’ vision for the future of the people of the United States is the only one that the UConn YDSA can endorse with a good conscience. Bernie is the only candidate who has fought for justice his entire career. He was a civil rights organizer at the University of Chicago in the 1960’s, and spent his entire political career speaking out against mass incarceration, unequal sentencing, and white supremacy. He has vocally supported the protection of the LGBTQ since running for office in Burlington in 1972, while Warren was a Republican until 1996 through the Reagan administration and the AIDs crisis and Joe Biden voted in 1993 in favor of 10 USC 654 which barred LGBTQ persons from the military without exception.
Sanders has fought for the right for workers to unionize to negotiate a more equitable position and more democratic control of production. He has the same set of focuses that we as an organization do; student debt, the military industrial complex, for profit prisons, militarization of the police, healthcare cost, campaign finance malpractice, housing prices, and of course, climate change. The degree to which he has dragged the overton window left, forcing Democrats to adopt similar rhetorical styles and issues to remain viable, is a tribute to his positive influence. Despite this, the promises of mainstream Democrats ring hollow. Some see Warren as an equally progressive alternative to Bernie, but UConn YDSA finds her policies lackluster. Warren has been forced to admit the conflict of interest in corporate donors yet continues to lean on them. She has talked about universal healthcare but ends up shifting the focus to “accessibility” and “affordability” which comes down to federal subsidies of the existing market system. Her capital gains and wealth tax plans aim far lower than Senator Sanders. Unlike Bernie she has no plans to fully eliminate student debt and medical debt, both of which are huge expenses for millions of Americans. For a progressive she has a hawkish record; supporting the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014, calling for tougher sanctions against Venezuela, and criticizing diplomacy with North Korea. Admittedly in recent years she has turned on this point somewhat, cosigning several anti-war bills along with Bernie. She is a well meaning candidate but has not shown commitment to fight for the fundamental changes to the current power structure that poses an existential threat to life on Earth, being in her own words, “a capitalist to my bones”.
The UConn chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America endorses the platform of Senator Sanders and his campaign for the presidency of the United States. However, as he has suggested himself, a Sanders presidency will not cure the ills of capitalism, save the environment, or prevent the bourgeoisie from waging their class war. The fight for this election cycle would be a helpful step in the right direction but it is only through organization and collective action that we will win.
UConn Young Democratic Socialists of America is a political organization at the University of Connecticut and can be reached at email@example.com.