The presidential campaigns of 2016 clearly demonstrated, through the popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, that there are virulent movements in our country on the “extreme” ends of the political spectrum. It is my opinion that the conservative movement of this type is dangerous and disturbing, a retreat to animalistic thought, anti-intellectualism, and an overall lack of empathy in the interest of self-preservation.
The “extreme” leftist movement of socialism is the opposite. In that movement, there is hope and love and caring for all members of our community, no matter their race, religion or creed. I have strong support for them. However there is something else about this rising tide of socialism that I also find much hope and admiration in, and that is the passion and intensity that it has evoked in many people, especially of the younger generations.
The most important group representing this movement is known as the Democratic Socialists of America. This group has seen rapid growth since the election, adding over 25,000 dues-paying members to their rolls since that date, up from only several thousand members only a year earlier. Political organizing groups associated with the DSA having formed in great numbers across the United States, including many on college campuses.
The DSA as a whole does not typically take action by campaigning for political candidates, instead choosing to focus on pushing for reform. This paradigm is reflected in these smaller groups, where many of the meetings do not include discussions about canvassing for a particular candidate, but instead center on plans to go out in their respective communities and perform valuable services, such as free brake light replacement, or spread “the good word” of socialist ideology.
It is important to note however that the DSA is in fact a small part of a much larger phenomenon that is occurring in the political dynamic of the left in America. It is only one of many different national organizations that are pushing socialist ideals, and it certainly does not represent the majority of individuals who share its main beliefs and goals.
I personally know of several small groups who all share those beliefs and goals with DSA, yet have decided to not officially affiliate themselves with the party itself in the interest of maintaining independence. Furthermore there are other large national groups who are related to the DSA along the same lines.
I see hope in this condition because it indicates to me that people of many stripes, from many walks of life, have decided to take the initiative with the goal of bettering our society. The fact that so many people have chosen to remain independent of a centralized organization, despite shared beliefs, shows the decision to take action that those people have made supersedes anything so petty and potentially restrictive as official party affiliation.
This is a powerful statement of the motivation of these groups and individuals: they are determined to make a difference, and they believe they have they power to do it with or without the resources afforded by national organization.
I believe that there are powerful forces currently at work in our country and around the world. Unfortunately it seems that the forces carrying the day here in America are ones which wish to see us cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and persecute those among us who are seen as deviant. This is cruel, small-minded and ultimately going to lead to nothing but human suffering.
At any given point, our society maintains a massive inertia. It is no small task to shift the tide, yet the existence of the political will of those organizations and people that I speak of indicates to me that it is possible. I would call on each and every student at this school to take a moment to consider what they believe in. Do you believe that it is better to be a lonely ship stuck at sea in the middle of a storm, do you believe in abandoning your neighbor, your classmates, or any person who has done you no wrong to whatever harm would come to them without your help? Or do you believe that we are all in this together, that in the end we really are all the same?
I believe the latter, and if you do too, I would recommend that you join a group such as DSA, working to advance those ideals, or even better form your own organization, and take up the fight for the common good.