Section: Opinion

Socialism at Kenyon? New group hopes so.

Former Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine visited Kenyon on Oct. 25, 2016. Anyone who spent time on this campus last year can attest to the sea of “I’m With Her” stickers, signs and buttons that flooded campus. This raises the question: Why did Tim Kaine preach to the choir at Kenyon when Knox County voted 66 percent for Trump?

Given that central Ohio is dealing with an economic depression, a crippling opioid epidemic and a feeling of alienation from representatives in D.C., wouldn’t it make sense to bring the Democratic platform, which has traditionally claimed to protect working-class communities, to a place like Mount Vernon?

The Clinton campaign made several strategic mistakes. However, Clinton’s biggest setback was her status as an establishment candidate. Her long-standing corporate and Washington ties seemed to weigh her down in an election defined by anti-establishment populism.

The Democratic Party now stands at a disadvantage and is looking for a way to regain power in a Washington controlled by a Republican president and Congress. We are at a critical point in party history, one where it has become clear that a choice must be made: We can continue pushing down the same path that led to our current predicament, or we can try something new. In the post-election confusion, Clinton released a book titled What Happened, pointing to Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, popular media and others as explanations for her failure. She acknowledges her responsibility, including her “basket of deplorables” remark. However, in September she claimed in a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer that these mistakes were not enough to swing the election.

The 2016 election showed us that the well-established American assumption that only moderate, centrist politicians can win elections is an assumption that voters can and will readily discard. Bernie Sanders garnered 43 percent of the Democratic primary vote despite Democratic National Committee support for Clinton. Trump refused the advice of his party and set a record level of candid candidacy, carrying himself all the way to the White House. This watershed moment indicates that the American people are calling for change.

KYDSA is the Kenyon chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a national organization whose membership has more than quadrupled since last summer to about 30,000 members. The DSA is not a political party but an organization of activists dedicated to fighting for a living wage, single-payer health care, Black Lives Matter, free college education and other progressive issues. Since we do not nominate our own candidates, our support goes to anyone running on a platform that aligns with our values. The DSA has channeled its resources into building a national organization that garners grassroots support for a more equitable, democratic and just society for all, through democratic socialism. This means supporting Democrats, independents or members of third parties who support progressive issues and aim to further the progressive cause.

Here at Kenyon, we will be advocating for greater racial and economic diversity on campus and emphasizing the importance of working with local groups on social, economic and political issues. We welcome membership of anyone regardless of participation in other on-campus political groups. We look forward to working with a wide spectrum of ideas, and key features of our organization are cooperative discourse and active involvement in our community. We meet Sundays at 5 p.m. in Sam Mather  201, and we hope to see you there.

This piece was co-written by the executive board of KYDSA. Patrick Conley ’20 is undeclared from Madison, Wis. Lucy Irwin ’20 is a sociology and art major from Baltimore, Md. Chris Sheets ’20 is undeclared from Moseley, Va. You can contact them at conley1@kenyon.edu, irwin1@kenyon.edu and sheets1@kenyon.edu, respectively.

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