Op-Ed: America needs a revitalized movement on the left

Camren Ward and Alex Gordon

Today the sun rose on a darker America: an America where the people have decided that a bigot and sexist deserves the highest office in the country. We must try and move forward, to regain the ground that we lost. It must be the project of not only the left but of all opponents of Donald Trump to figure out where Hillary Clinton failed and how future candidates can defeat Trump and Trumpism. Our suggestion is, to quote French revolutionary Georges Danton, “some audacity, more audacity, always audacity.”

Among other things, the results of election night 2016 detail the death of centrism. For 20 years, the Clinton family pushed an agenda of center-right economic policy paired with mild social liberalism. Clearly this is no longer enough: people in America are afraid for their livelihoods. The Trump phenomenon in large part is fueled by economic anxiety, and incremental neoliberalism is not going to solve their problems. Trump won states he was never expected to win because of his appeal to blue collar workers. He offered the hope of a radical economic shakeup. Since the 2008 recession, our economy has recovered and unemployment has gone down, but the material conditions of the working class have not changed. Wages are still depressed, debt is still high, and for all but the very rich, recovery has been slow.

Going forward, America needs a strong left movement to counteract the dangerous forces that gave rise to Trump. We need policies that put an emphasis on the middle and lower class. We must fight harmful laws like Right to Work at every turn and strive to bring the positive force of unionization to as many workers as possible. We must stand with the Fight for $15 and the establishment of a livable minimum wage.

In a country soon to be governed by Donald Trump, we need more than ever to stand in solidarity with minorities and those in the most danger during a Trump presidency. Hillary Clinton turned her back on the protestors at Standing Rock likely because she believed it to be politically expedient. We can no longer tolerate candidates who shy away from supporting the lives and livelihoods of Americans. We need leaders who are willing to take a strong moral stance, who will speak for what is right. We need to move the Democratic Party further toward compassion and empathy. We need more politicians willing to stand with Black Lives Matter and other social movements.

Decades of globalization and automatization created incredible amounts of wealth. But they also destroyed the systems of employment by moving jobs to robots or workers overseas. Donald Trump said he could reverse this process by ending free trade; Hillary Clinton could have offered a different alternative, one that shared the wealth with the marginalized. Instead, she represented stability and status quo in an era when many people are seeking revolution and release.

The way forward is to create a strong, vibrant and inclusive left wing movement that combats Trump’s bigoted and racist rhetoric with a message of inclusivity and economic equality that will improve the lives of every single American. Our generation has proven itself to be more open-minded and progressive than the generation before us, and it is our duty to carry that spirit onward. As the Young Democratic Socialists, we will continue to work with and express solidarity with fellow organizations that seek to make America the best country it can be, for all of us.

Camren Ward and Alex Gordon are the president and vice president, respectively, of Young Democratic Socialists. Camren can be contacted at c[email protected] and Alex can be contacted at [email protected]northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.