Thirty-three million unemployed Americans. Countless more underemployed. Climate change fueled wildfires darken skies across the United States. A nation with less than 5% of the world’s population accounting for 20% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. Americans are worried about our nation’s future.
Americans have grown accustomed to having our fears assuaged by comic book heroes beamed into our living rooms, but there was no such hero at the first 2020 presidential debate.
It’d be impossible for the 100 million of us who tuned into the first debate to find relief in two septuagenarian men spending 90 minutes incoherently yelling at one another. And while one of those two septuagenarians will be our next president, neither laid out an assuring vision for this moment, let alone the next four years.
A Canadian mayor told the New York Times: “it’s like watching the decline of the Roman Empire.” Andrew Yang and Ben Shapiro both remarked that it felt like all of us, the American people, had lost.
Like most socialists I know, I’m voting for Joe Biden. I’m voting for Biden not because I think he’ll improve conditions for working people – Biden himself assures his wealthy donors that “nothing [will] fundamentally change” when he’s in the White House.
I’m voting for Biden because I’m convinced that Trump is a sociopathic megalomaniac who, in his quest for power, has made his bed with white supremacists. We need look no further than Stephen Miller’s policies or Trump’s debate stage nod to the Proud Boys.
Faced with a corporate Democrat and a fascist – neither of whom is succeeding in assuaging the fears of the American people – socialists can and must remind our fellow Americans that we don’t need a hero, but a mass people’s movement. We should remind our fellow Americans that working people and our movements have always been the protagonists of change.
In this time of crisis we must give our neighbors hope and confidence that our socialist vision for our country is not just one they desire, but one that we can achieve. We can do so by continuing to articulate and fight for the widely popular policies and programs that our nation needs – Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, living wages, free college education, workplace democracy, and end to racist policing – while pointing to the electoral and policy successes we have already achieved.
In Chicago, socialist aldermen are leading the way on organizing for, and winning, new all-affordable housing developments near public transit. In New York, members of the Democratic Socialists of America are working with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to organize vulnerable workers with the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee. Across the United States, socialists are working with socialist elected officials to provide mutual aid to some of the communities hardest hit by COVID-19.
A better world is not just possible – we’re already building it. American socialists are modeling the solidarity and policies a majority of Americans want to see.
Regardless of who wins on November 3 – the corporate Democrat or the fascist – socialists can and must be prepared to continue to organize, to articulate and fight for our vision for a better tomorrow, and to provide the progressive political leadership and hope that our nation needs.
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is a member of the Chicago City Council, representing Chicago’s 35th Ward since 2015. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.