Building Beyond Bernie

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns transformed politics and revived the US Left. Where does the Left go now that this unifying focus has passed?

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns transformed American politics. Many DSA members threw themselves into those campaigns, and the organization itself was reborn as a result of them. But whatever ways socialists expected the 2020 campaign to end, nobody could have predicted it would take the form of petering out in the midst of a global pandemic that uprooted everyone’s lives and ripped through the world bringing sickness, economic misery, and death.

DSA-Los Angeles member Meagan Day and Socialist Forum editorial committee member Micah Uetricht wrote Bigger than Bernie: How We Go From the Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism (Verso, 2020) to take stock of the rebirth of the socialist movement since Sanders’s first campaign and offer some arguments about where this newly reborn Left goes from here. It was released in March 2020, right as the pandemic began — a time when nobody had time or energy to parse the lessons of Bernie’s campaigns, since they now had more pressing matters to attend to.

Nearly a year and a half later, as possibilities for gathering together slowly reemerged, Uetricht and a panel of Chicago DSA members gathered at the In These Times magazine offices in Chicago to talk about the book and reflect on the past five years in DSA.

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is a member of the Chicago city council, representing the city’s 35th ward, and a member of Chicago DSA. Marianela D’Aprile served on the DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC) from 2018 to 2021. Micah Uetricht is an editor at Jacobin, author of Bigger than Bernie, and member of Chicago DSA. Sarah Hurd, the former communications coordinator of Chicago DSA and producer of The Vast Majority, moderated the discussion. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Micah Uetricht: When Bernie lost, we couldn’t gather in spaces like this and process what had just happened because we were all trying to find hand sanitizer and figure out how and why and when to wear masks. We didn’t actually have a chance to talk about what the hell had just happened with these two campaigns.

The reason I wrote this book with Meagan Day is, first, to say that what has happened with the reborn socialist movement over the past five years is a really big deal. We’re not on the cusp of winning socialism obviously. But it is a very big deal that there is, for the first time in at least half a century, a substantive Left current in American politics.

There are plenty of things to say about where the socialist movement is falling short. But there are substantive issues like Medicare for All on the political agenda that weren’t before. It didn’t seem at all feasible before Bernie’s 2016 campaign, despite the fact that majorities of polled Americans have long believed we need Medicare for All. People are using the s-word now. Calling yourself a socialist used to get you laughed out of everywhere but leftist magazine events like this one.

That all matters, and it matters now more than ever. At a time of crisis, socialists are the ones insisting on Medicare for All. We’re insisting on Medicare for All, when the Democratic Party at the top levels still is resisting it. We’re still the ones pushing for substantive climate change legislation. There is a lot on the line for American politics, for the future of the world as we know it. Before anything else, we should say that the re-emergence of socialist politics in the most wealthy and powerful country in the world is a very big deal. It is a very good thing and sure as hell beats where we were before.

Marianela, you’ve been on the DSA National Political Committee (NPC) for three years. What do you feel has been lost over this crazy past year and a half? What do you feel has been gained?

Marianela D’Aprile: It’s worthwhile to think about where we started. When I joined DSA in 2016, I think there were about 6,000 members. A bunch of people joined a year after that, and we’ve had exponential growth since then. We saw this explosive growth, but there was no guarantee that it would hold. There was no guarantee that those people would stay in the organization. But they have.

We’ve grown massively since the 2017 DSA convention, when we had about 20,000 members. That went up to around 30,000 just a couple of months later. Now we have almost 100,000 members. That momentum took us into the 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign. Like Micah said, it was a second chance at backing a viable candidate for president who called himself a socialist. That is no small thing.

I think the pandemic was in many ways a direct threat to everything DSA was able to build since the explosion in 2016. Our movement is still really young, is still composed of people who do it in their extra time, and has a leadership that is almost entirely volunteer. The political leadership of DSA is an entirely volunteer body, and the organization as a whole is composed of chapters that are more or less autonomous. Before the pandemic, the main campaign bringing our organization together was the Bernie Sanders campaign. The pandemic raised the threat that all our gains could completely disappear, that people would become demoralized and quit because they joined to get Bernie Sanders elected president and that didn’t happen.

The pandemic has been a disorganizing force in many ways. I think the challenge now is to figure out what is the democratic socialist program our organization and the broader Left is going to fight for in the next two, five, 10 years so that If there is another crisis on this scale, it doesn’t pose the same kind of threat to the organizational gains we’ve made.

Carlos, it felt like the Bernie Sanders project, which tried to change the whole national political landscape, put us on a certain path. Do you feel like the Black Lives Matter uprisings of last year took us on a slightly different path, or do you feel like it is all part of one larger movement in the general direction of socialism?

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa: The Bernie Sanders campaign was very clearly an electoral expression of leftist politics. In some ways you could say it was a more “woke” campaign in 2020, whereas 2016 was much more focused on bread-and-butter economic issues. Part of that was because he was bullied by Democrats who called him an old racist white man. His campaign responded to that by putting forward a more full-throated program around a lot of these important social questions. In some ways I think that is related to the uprising that we saw in the BLM protests, because that wasn’t electoral, right? It was an uprising, people taking to the streets.

Of course, the protests occurred during a pandemic, where there’s increasing income inequality. Where there’s a growing wealth gap and people were extremely frustrated and fed up. People went and stole things that they needed. People stole diapers, people stole baby buggies, people stole expensive purses that they could then sell and live off of for weeks or months at a time. I think that in that sense, it’s all interconnected. The growing wealth and income inequality Bernie Sanders was talking about in 2016 and 2020 was manifested in the uprising we saw that summer. What a lot of very smart political scientists will tell you is that, when you look at certain indicators of poverty and wealth inequality, that generally tend to tell you when there’s going to be rioting, when there’s going to be looting and things of that nature.

I think it’s all one fight, it’s all one movement for social and economic justice. The strategies and tactics are going to differ, and sometimes there’s not going to be a lot of strategy behind it, it’s going to be spontaneous. As a member of DSA who is committed to an electoral path, we need to understand how to continue to be responsive to the movement that’s out on the streets as elected officials in office, and to do that so they feed off each other.

What has that looked like in your particular ward?

Carlos: My office started working on mutual aid efforts. My staff used the resources of our office to call seniors, to do outreach, print materials, and support mutual aid work. We also used our office to reach out to the unemployment office to help thousands of people. When Adam Toledo was tragically killed by the Chicago police, we used our office resources to print flyers to distribute at an action that occurred in Logan Square. We’re using our office however we can, to support the grassroots organizing happening in the community.

Marianela, how do you feel DSA on a national level has reacted to this big shift? Where does it feel like the energy is moving now?

Marianela: Like many things in DSA, the answer to that question is context-specific and locality-specific. We saw a lot of people join last year after the uprising, because it radicalized many people who started to look for a political home. So they joined DSA. We say all the time that our oppressions are all linked together, therefore our liberation is all linked together. We’re not free until every last one of us is free. We fight against things like racial oppression, but we also fight for broad, like class-wide equality. There’s no way that under capitalism, we will end racism and other forms of oppression. But that is not obvious to a lot of people. It’s just not obvious that capitalism is incompatible with ending oppression.

Our job as socialists is to demonstrate why that is. That is obviously very hard to do. Most people aren’t politicized, they don’t participate in politics in their everyday lives. Secondly, there is very little space to participate in democratic organizational life in the places people spend most of their time, particularly the workplace. The rate of unionization in this country is like 10%, right? Even among those union members, only a relatively small number have had meaningful experiences with workplace or union democracy.

This lack of opportunities for democratic action poses a huge opportunity for DSA. I think it also caused DSA to ask ourselves a lot of questions, like who are we recruiting? What kinds of statements or demands are we putting forward? What are our stances on different questions of oppression? What is our relationship to the movement for reparations? I think that those are all ongoing conversations. A lot of people were really moved last summer, and it’s our job to be out there saying the only way to eradicate oppression is to get rid of a system that divides people and pits them against each other in a struggle for survival.

Do you have any specific examples of how that has played out on the ground?

Marianela: Chapters across the country have taken up campaigns to slash police budgets. The Austin, Texas chapter had a fairly successful campaign to do this. We’ve also developed more robust recruitment and retention mechanisms. A lot of people talk about how they joined the organization, and maybe they’re the only Black person in the room or Latino in the room. So we’ve started developing internal practices for more deeply embedding ourselves in the working class as it actually exists and to support our members in broadening our membership base.

Micah, you operate in the media sphere. During COVID, this was really the only place where we could actually gather in any real way, whether that through the Internet and social media or watching the same shows on Netflix. What do you think the effects of this have been?

Micah: Politics ultimately has to be done in person. Especially when it comes to insurgent, outsider movements like ours, people have to get together to talk face-to-face and build real relationships with each other. We can’t post our way into a socialist revolution. Even though literally all I do every day is post — my entire job is to post!

Everyone understands in the abstract that online spaces have a crucial role. For example, I don’t think Bernie’s campaigns could have broken through in a pre-social media era, because the mainstream media keeps such a tight stranglehold on what acceptable politics is. So we needed social media to be able to break through those narratives and find a critical mass of people who agreed that we do need Medicare for All, that we should be talking about socialism.

But now that we’ve broken through, we can’t just stay in that space. So much of the movement takes place online now, and… nobody seems to be having a very good time. Many people have been driven kind of insane by it. Maybe there was nothing else to do during the pandemic. But as we’re starting to come out of it, this is absolutely essential to our ability to build a movement that can actually be a meaningful force in mainstream politics.

It still feels like the DSA membership is still limited to a similar group of people to what it has been for the past five years. I was wondering if any of you have ideas about what it will take to expand what a DSA member looks like, particularly when it comes to age and representing the working class as it is actually constituted.

Marianela: We have to win real, tangible things, and I think we’re starting to do that. I think people join organizations and movements when they think that they can get something out of it. A lot of people joined DSA because they wanted to be able to call themselves a socialist and fight for something that they thought was right. Those are fantastic reasons to join an organization.

But I also think that there are tons of people who have been burnt out on politics. And frankly they should be. Because they’ve been fucked over by the people in power their whole lives. They don’t know what politics are good for, because politics has been shit for them. So it makes sense that they would be skeptical, even if there’s someone at their door who’s like, “Bernie Sanders is fighting for Medicare for All, and if we win Medicare for All, then you will be able to take your kid to the dentist and not have to pay thousands of dollars.”

We have to show that we can win things that actually change people’s lives and give them a stake in fighting for the transformation of their own lives. We start at a disadvantage, because people in this country are used to doing things in a pretty consumerist way, and that’s not the movement we’re building. We’re building an organization that can move in concert, which can organize people where they’re at and that can fight to win things. We’ve had a lot of electoral wins across the country and we’re starting to have whiffs of policy wins. We need to keep building on them.

Micah, one of the things you do in the book is tracing the trajectory of Bernie Sanders. One of the recurring themes in his story is that he lost on many occasions, but within those losses were the seeds of future victories. Can you tell us all a little bit about that?

Micah: The book is not really about Bernie, but the first chapter of the book is about his story. For people who don’t know his biography, he’s someone with an almost religious faith in his vision of a better world. He ran on third party tickets for various offices in Vermont and received vote percentages in the single digits. He was in the wilderness doing this for years. It eventually led to his totally wild election as mayor of Burlington, and everything fell into place after that. Bernie is a special figure in the history of American politics. He was able to rise from nowhere to mayor to the Senate while not throwing away his principles or accommodating to the center or the right. It takes a specially willful kind of person to maintain such a rock-solid belief in their politics.

I’m reading Moby Dick right now, and there’s a line in the book where Ishmael says, “turn not thy back to the compass.” Bernie Sanders did not turn his back to the compass, and we shouldn’t either. It’s the only way that we’re going to get to a better world. It’s very tempting to be willing to give away some of your core political beliefs to become “relevant.” On the other hand, it can be very easy to just stay in the margins, assured in your righteousness or correctness. We have to avoid both of those paths if we’re going to build this movement into something that is bigger than it currently is. I think we can do that.

Carlos, New York City DSA recently ran six candidates for their city council. They were trying to beat our record here in Chicago of five-ish socialists in city council. They didn’t quite make it. As someone currently serving on the city council, what are your main takeaways from your experience and what do you think the next steps are?

Carlos: Before I answer that question, I want to touch briefly on the previous question you asked about how the uprising impacted our work as socialists in office. The only real play that the defund demand got in the Chicago city council was among the socialist aldermen. It was the socialist alderman Rossana Rodriguez who put forth the “Treatment Not Trauma” ordinance, which is rooted in police abolition and defund. It was Jeanette Taylor and myself who put forth the “Police-ree Schools” ordinance. I put forth the ordinance to close Homan Square, a “black site” the Chicago Police Department was using to torture people. The liberals in the city council, the moderates in the city council, and, of course, the Blue Lives Matter right-wing reactionary caucus don’t want to get anywhere near these things.

If you believe deeply in the demand to defund, it’s clear that you need more socialists like us.

New York is very interesting, because the way that the national media is interpreting Eric Adams’ victory is that it’s a repudiation of the movement.But New York is an extremely progressive place. It’s a place where socialists, who were not even endorsed by DSA, defeated other socialists in the city council primary races. Of the six candidates that they ran or endorsed, two of them won. I think that’s great. I think it’s pretty clear that socialists and that left politics can do very well in cities like New York, Chicago, LA, or Seattle.

But I am also very concerned with showing how socialists can begin to win in rural America. We have, in the state of Illinois, nine socialist elected officials who are DSA members. Seven of them are in Chicago, including the six members of the city council, the 35th ward Democratic committeeman Anthony Quezada, and State Senator Robert Peters. Then we have Dylan Parker, a city council member in Rock Island.

I’m really curious to hear from Dylan Parker: how is he doing in Rock Island? I think we, as democratic socialists, have a lot of work to do to catch up with our socialist predecessors from the early twentieth century, when there were a thousand elected socialist officials across the United States. There were entire small towns who had a socialist mayor and city council. We, at this point in time, have only about a hundred.

Before we can even have a real conversation about a third party or a workers’ party, which I’d like to get to, we need a realistic assessment of how many actual democratic socialists we already have in office who share a politics of shifting the balance of power away from the capitalist class and toward the working class. How were they elected? Were they elected as independents, as was the case with Kshama Sawant? Were they elected on the Democratic Party line, as was the case with Cori Bush? What would happen if they left the Democratic Party? Would they easily be reelected in their city or town if they did? Because we are in a federal system, what is the challenge to get ballot access in each of those states? How easy is it to form a third party? What’s the threshold needed?

That’s kind of the analysis chapters should be engaging in. And I think we need a survey of DSA elected officials to really figure out what we have there.

Micah: The book has a whole chapter about what’s wrong with the Democratic Party, and why we don’t have the kind of workers’ party or socialist party that basically every other wealthy country in the world has or has had at some point. Now, we don’t argue for splitting completely from the Democratic Party right now to then ride off into the sunset of revolution. That’s not going to happen. Many people have tried this over the years and it’s failed miserably. It’s good that someone like Carlos, who is an elected official in the city of Chicago, is thinking about these questions. It’s essential for us to build the kind of politics that we need, to think about what’s wrong with this currently existing Democratic Party and what we should do about it.

Marianela: The reason we talk about forming a party of our own, an independent party, is that we know that the Democratic Party does not have the interests of most people in mind or in their pockets. What they care about is their links to capitalists. At the end of the day, that is the interest that they represent, and that’s the interest that their politicians represent when they’re in office. They pay lip service to the issue du jour, but at the end of the day, their material interests are diametrically opposed to those of most people.

This is why Joe Biden campaigned for president in the middle of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and he still refused to back Medicare for All. People were dying because they didn’t have health insurance, they had pre-existing conditions that made them more vulnerable to COVID, and Joe Biden still refused to back Medicare for All. Why? Because pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies control a gigantic portion of this country’s economy, and it is much more important to them to preserve that then to preserve the health of the vast majority of people in this country. We need a party that actually represents our interests and not those of the capitalists.

Micah: The reason that we don’t already have that party, like every other wealthy country in the world does, is because there are incredible structural barriers in the U.S. to creating such a party. Because there are such barriers, it’s not like every person who identifies as a Democrat is a bad person in the pocket of Wall Street. It is also the party where trade union members and feminists and environmentalists, anybody who wants to accomplish something progressive in the world, go because they don’t have anywhere else to go. This is a central dilemma that we’re faced with.

The reason why we can’t have nice things in America is not because Americans are uniquely dumb or individualistic. A huge reason is because we have a system that puts huge barriers in the way of a real left-wing party and constrains our ability to fight for things that the majority of Americans actually want, like Medicare for All or fighting climate change or taxing the rich.

In your mind, is this like a 10 year project, a 20 year project, a 50 year project? Will we live to see an actual working people’s party in the United States? An article that helped me put this in perspective a little bit was the one Eric Blanc wrote about the emergence of the UK Labour Party, which people should read because it kind of calls for a similar transition.

Micah: One of the problems with writing books is that people ask you to make predictions, and then you’re just pulling things out of your ass. At the very least, we need to heighten the contradictions with elements of the party that are protecting the status quo. You can’t just pretend the Nancy Pelosis of the world don’t exist. There has to be a fight both within the party and outside the party, by people who run for office as Democrats and from groups like DSA from outside of the party.

People get mad about that sometimes. They’re like, “Why take on Democrats? Look at the Republicans. Why aren’t you focusing on the Republicans? Look at these people. They’re like fucking batshit vampires. They’re the real evil ones! Why are you spending so much time focusing on the Democratic Party?” Well, it’s because the Democratic Party is actually in a position to do something about the blood-sucking vampires that are in the Republican Party. So we need to pick fights within that party to fight the vampires.

The fact that someone like Carlos brings up the need to do something about the Democrats is a good sign. I can’t give you my prediction about the timeframe. Who knows? If you had asked me a year and a half ago to predict what’s going to happen in six months…

At the last event we did in this space with In These Times’ Miles Kampf-Lassin and Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic, and we talked about what a boob Joe Biden was. Now he’s president.

Micah: Makes you think, who’s the real boob?

In your book, you also talk about the importance of the labor movement. How can we reclaim the labor movement and make it live up to its potential?

Micah: There’s been a lot of focus on electoral campaigns over the last few years. We’ve all learned that electoral campaigns are very important. There was a time on the Left when that wasn’t common sense — a lot of people on the Left would say, “No, elections are a total waste of time.” That has been laid to rest. There are enormous political opportunities for the socialist movement through running for electoral office.

But that is far from the only thing that we need to be doing. After Bernie dropped out, for example, we published articles in Jacobin saying that Bernie could not have won without a reborn working-class movement, without a labor movement that could really back him. The labor movement is the weakest that it’s been in this country since the Great Depression. But it still has resources that nobody else in society has. It draws its millions of members from the working class, the vast majority of society. We can’t win that better world without rebuilding the labor movement. We make an argument in the book for people to get involved very deeply in the labor movement.

There was a time when people, including myself earlier in life, thought that the only way that I could help the labor movement was to get a job as a union staffer and be a union organizer or researcher or something. Those jobs are incredibly noble and important, but we really need people at the rank and file level to organize unions where they don’t exist, and to transform unions that are not organizing and fighting the way that they should be.

Chicago is the best place to make the case for this because it is a city that has been politically transformed because of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Do we have more socialists than any other city on city council because Chicago is a uniquely enlightened and radical and beautiful and wonderful city? Maybe. But also a big reason is because the CTU transformed the political landscape of the city over the last decade, starting in 2012 when the teachers first went on strike. They have established themselves as the key left-wing political institution in the city of Chicago, around which unions and community groups and leftists and other people gather.

How did that happen? Well, a group of teachers, some of whom were leftists or socialists, some of whom were just pissed-off teachers who looked at their union and thought it was kind of corrupt and conservative and that the teachers in the city were under attack and the union wasn’t doing anything about it. They got together and, long story short, took over their union and made it into the fighting union that it is today. Imagine if we had more unions like that in the city. Imagine if we had more unions that were willing to fight and strike and adopt an agenda that’s about fighting for the entire working class.

Socialists have a really key role to play in effecting that kind of transformation in the labor movement.  This is an absolutely essential piece of building a better world, even when it comes to things that you wouldn’t think about it being essential for. Take the Green New Deal (GND). We need to get unions like the building trades on board with the GND. These are, historically, very conservative unions. We need people who are electricians and carpenters and construction workers who make the case within their unions for a GND, and say that we actually have a lot to gain from this, and we have a role to play in saving the planet from imminent destruction.

That’s the kind of thing that socialists need to take very seriously. Not every single one of us — I sit on my ass editing articles all day. I tried to be a union organizer and I wasn’t a very good one, so it’s for the best that I edit articles. Not everyone is going to be willing or able to throw themselves into the labor movement, and that’s OK. But many of us need to think seriously about becoming rank-and-file members of our unions and fighting from there to rebuild the labor movement. If we don’t, we’re totally screwed.

I’m glad Micah brought up the GND. Marianela, what do you feel is the best way for a DSA member or somebody who wants to work with DSA to be spending their time?

Marianela: Last year, amid the pandemic, DSA started working on a project fondly called the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC). The idea was to provide support for people who were scrambling to organize during the pandemic. Obviously, we saw lots of people get fired en masse or get their hours cut. This project was started as an emergency response project, but it’s ongoing. We’ve partnered with the United Electrical Workers (UE) to make it a hub for new organizing across the country, bringing workers together in workplaces that are not yet unionized but might want to. If you’re a DSA member who has never organized before, it’s a really good way to learn how to do that. Those are skills you will keep for the rest of your life, and you can use them to organize your own workplace.

Audience Q&As

Question 1: In New York, the DSA chapter didn’t seem to focus really much on the mayoral race. On the other hand, Bernie ran for the most powerful executive position in the country, and that was a good thing. With council and mayoral races coming up in Chicago, how should we strike that strategic balance between legislative and executive races? 

Micah: It’s kind of a cop out to say to do both, but it is essential to do that. The politics of the city have qualitatively changed since we’ve elected half a dozen socialists to the city council. Carlos mentioned the fights that the socialist aldermen are leading the way on. We need to defend Carlos when he’s up for re-election and defend the other socialist aldermen.

But at the same time, I think a lot of people feel a crisis of purpose in the absence of one big campaign like Bernie’s, in which we put aside whatever petty disagreements we have with each other to try to get him elected. Now that that’s over, we don’t have that one big fight we’re all being pulled into. That’s left a lot of people rudderless and made it easier to devolve into infighting or whatever. So we definitely need somebody to run for those kinds of big offices and we need those kinds of campaigns that everybody can focus on at the same time.

Carlos: I don’t think it’s a cop out to say that we have to do both, because I think that’s the correct answer. What was really key about the Bernie campaign is that when he was running to win within the Democratic Party. He was a successful former mayor and a successful member of Congress who people knew was a champion on the progressive issues that they wanted to see their president take on. Because Bernie was so successful, that helped build our capacity at the local level. So it’s absolutely true that we have to do both. And our movement is big enough to do both.

Question 2: Since 2016, we’ve seen two currents of leftism. There have been movements that have been really successful around electing socialists in Chicago and some successful organizational movements around the country. And then there have been lots of socialist-flavored grievance-type things pushed by people like podcasters that have flamed out. Why do you think that’s happened, and what’s the best way to address that moving forward?

Marianela: What I’ve learned in that time is that we have to focus on winning things that make a material impact on changing people’s lives. Everything else is just noise. Carlos talked about real efforts being made in this very city that would, if they pass, would change the lives of people who live here. Those are the kinds of things that we should be getting behind.

I want to touch on the questions of executive offices too, because we did just have a democratic socialist who won executive office in Buffalo, New York, which is actually a decently sized city. There are real risks that we take in running for and winning executive office, because you have massive amounts of pressure where basically you have to manage the capitalist state in that role. When you’re there, you’re living inside like the contradictions of the machine in ways legislators don’t really have to. Executives have to deal with all of these competing interests, with Chase Manhattan and whatever the hell else. So I think the experience in Buffalo is going to be really interesting and a real learning opportunity for us, for what it is to be a socialist in an executive office in the twenty-first century.

Question 3: One thing that really inspired many of us in the Bernie campaign was his fight for a vision of internationalism, which stood against a lot of aspects of U.S. imperialism, even if it didn’t go as far as we would like. What are some of the things we can do to act on our internationalism? 

Marianela: If we look back a hundred years ago, there were international organizations that brought together socialist parties from various countries so they could coordinate their activities. I think we are pretty far from that today, though there are international organizations that exist. I can’t say specifically what the next steps are here, but DSA should continue the work it’s been doing to build up relationships that didn’t really exist before between the American Left and the rest of the global Left.

Carlos just went on a delegation to Peru to observe the recent election there. That kind of thing is really important, and in my ideal world, we would use those activities to build toward a kind of new socialist international that could eventually coordinate things like a massive international strike on Amazon. That should be our horizon.

Final thoughts?

Micah: We wrote this book because this newly-born socialist movement is the most important thing that has happened in American politics in a long time. It’s also, as we say at the end of the book, a very rewarding way to live your life. It is what Eugene Debs described as the feeling of “ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade.” I would highly encourage those of you who aren’t yet a part of DSA to get on board, because it’s pretty great.

Marianela: A lot of socialists in this country right now had the very good fortune of getting involved in the socialist movement when it was just absolutely poppin’. Bernie was on the scene, there was all this momentum. We thought we were about to make this huge win, and it was awesome.

Those are not the conditions anymore, but we still have to fight and to keep building our organization. We have an opportunity to build a movement that is defined and led by its members. That is no small thing. We are facing extreme inequality and extreme danger, not just in the form of climate change. We have to keep growing the socialist movement so we can transform that terror into action. That’s our only choice.