Is Socialism On The Rise?

Collage+of+Bernie+Sanders%2C+courtesy+of+the+artist%2C+Dirt%3A+Son+of+Earth%2C+%40art.o.dirt+on+Instagram.

Image via Dirt: Son of Earth

Collage of Bernie Sanders, courtesy of the artist, Dirt: Son of Earth, @art.o.dirt on Instagram.

Jaymes Grundmann, Editor-In-Chief

In the past, it was common for someone to be able to buy a home and support their partner and two children on their wages alone. They’d live comfortably working forty hours a week with enough expendable income to take family vacations, send their kids to school, make investments and save for their eventual retirement. It was the American Dream. Today, that dream seems nearly impossible to most Americans.

A recent United Nations report ranked the United States as the most unequal developed nation with 40 million in poverty. Our wages have remained stagnant for the past four decades as rents skyrocketed to the point that minimum wage workers can’t afford an apartment in any city throughout the US. We pay more for healthcare than any country on earth yet still receive the lowest quality healthcare compared to other developed nations. As working class families budget’s grew tighter, the upper echelons of society got richer. Billionaire’s fortunes grew by 12 percent in 2018, while also managing to pay less taxes than working class Americans. In a world where twenty six billionaires hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people, it’s safe to say that Capitalism is in crisis.

Luckily through all of this austerity, poverty and pain, people are beginning to question this system. A recent YouGov poll found that seventy percent of millennial’s would vote for a socialist candidate and an American Barometer survey found that seventy percent of all Americans support the socialist policy, Medicare for All.

This overwhelming support for universal healthcare was evident in the Arapahoe Pinnacle’s recent Man On Campus segment, Does ACC Support Medicare For All?, where a reporter asked random students at Arapahoe Community College how they felt about the policy. Not a single person said they opposed it, and most of the responses were incredibly enthusiastic and informed. Even those that were unfamiliar with the policy were supportive after it was explained to them. Perhaps ordinary ‘Americans’ aren’t as afraid of losing their private insurance as corporate Democrats like Pete Buttiegeg would like you to believe.

Jaymes Grundmann

One organization that helped dramatically with this leftist shift in public opinion has been the Democratic Socialists of America. Founded in 1971, the DSA was one of the most prominent socialist groups in America but didn’t gain national notoriety until they endorsed and aided avowed socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s congress run in New York District 14. Cortez and the DSA surprised the country by unseating an eighteenyear incumbent with close ties to the corporate Democrat establishment.

We spoke with the Electoral Committee Chair of the Denver DSA, Amy Schneider, to learn more about this drastic change in public opinion. “It’s easier to connect with people on issues these days and people are able to admit that things are not going well. People are kind of owning the fact that they can’t afford their rent and they’re not getting paid enough. They don’t have health care or they don’t have good enough health care etc.” Schneider states. “And if people can connect with you on that, then you can kind of get into the fact that these things are systemic and that we need serious institutional change.” 

The DSA first started to gain national traction as Bernie’s 2016 Democratic primary campaign showed America that politics could be different. His campaign shook loose a wave of class consciousness and anger at the corporate establishment while getting hordes of young activists to cut their teeth on political organizing and election strategy.

As Schneider puts it:

“Bernie’s 2016 campaign is the reason the DSA is so successful now. Our chapter formed right after the primary happened. He made socialism okay again in a really big way and that kind of gave the leftist world permission to start organizing. I feel it made more people realize that they agreed with us and it made people realize that being a part of something bigger than yourself can actually make change happen. He actually gave this country hope that there are politicians out there that are not about themselves, that are not there to keep up the status quo, that actually want to make real systemic structural change that will benefit every single one of us.”

The Denver DSA chapter at a business meeting in Denver, Colo. on Saturday, Apr. 13, 2019.

As the Denver DSA grew in membership, so did their accomplishments. In 2018 they endorsed and organized for Julie Gonzales’ successful campaign for SD34 in Denver. In the most recent election, they victoriously endorsed and fought for Juan Marcano in Ward 4 for Aurora City Council and Candi CdeBaca in District 9 for Denver City Council.

Speaking about Candi CdeBaca, Schneider states, “She beat out an eight year incumbent Albus Brooks who is the architect of the camping ban which criminalizes homelessness. He was being groomed to be the next mayor. He took all of his money from developers and she beat him on about a quarter of the money in the runoff.”

The Denver DSA also helps labor actions around the state. During the recent teachers strike, they helped organize Tamales for Teachers to help feed striking teachers and their families. They also gave support to the recent United Auto Workers strike. While it was a small factory without a ton of striking workers, the DSA were there helping the entire time. Their undying strike support lead union leadership to endorse all three DSA candidates in the last election. Which no doubt helped Juan Marcano in Ward 4 for Aurora City Council beat out a Republican incumbent.

Image via Amy Schneider
Denver DSA members meeting with Candi CdeBaca at her campaign office in Denver, Colo. on Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2019.

Although public perception on socialism has been changing recently, there’s still a large amount of the public that are terrified by the word due to decades of corporate media propaganda and neoliberal hegemony. So how does the DSA maneuver around this public fear of socialism and still manage to help push socialist candidates to the victory line? By focusing on policy and their effects on working class life. Schneider argues that, “Instead of talking to voters about this and framing it as socialism, we talk about ‘”What if healthcare was public and you didn’t have to pay high costs?”‘ ‘”What if you had some democratic control over your workplace and over your living situation?”‘ ‘”What if it was actual people from your community making these decisions instead of millionaires, billionaires and completely out of touch politicians?”‘

Over the past 40 years we’ve slowly marched into a new era of corporate feudalism. As production skyrocketed and corporate profit reached astronomical heights, somehow our wages got lower and our hours got longer. Time with our families became less and less and we went into medical bankruptcy as we got sick from all the stress. As we finally see that we’ve been deceived, with the boots of the rich pressed on our necks firmly. But in this dark era of billionaire oligarchy and decrepit poverty shines a new light of working class solidarity and class consciousness. With organizations like the DSA, fighting to move the 99 percent into a bright new future.