Bigger than Bernie

Bernie's campaign may be ending, but our fight continues. Now is the time for us to double down on the work that has drawn in so many people over the last five years and keep our momentum going towards a better world. Become part of that fight by joining DSA at

In dedicating our efforts to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, DSA has always understood the full import of Bernie’s slogan, ‘Not me. Us.’ Our own spin on that was that if Bernie won the election, the fight would continue. And if Bernie lost, the fight would continue. We now have to deal with that latter possibility.

Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for president, marking the close of one of the most successful battles the Left has waged in this country in decades. But the end of this battle does not mark the end of our work, for in our struggle for freedom and equality, each fight builds on the last towards a truly humane society. The multi-racial working class movement the Sanders campaign catalyzed over the last five years has fundamentally changed the terrain of American politics, and the class consciousness and organization that has been built through it will provide a base for continuing. We have not won a decisive victory in this battle, but we are far from losing the war.

Bernie Sanders at a United Auto Workers in Hamtramck, MI in September 2019

Indeed, the accomplishments of the last five years need to be placed in context. It is always hard to take a defeat, but we should remember that much of the incredible momentum of the campaign that energized people came precisely from how weak we were before 2015. Despite the ecstatic expressions of dissent we saw in the anti-WTO protests, the opposition to the invasion of Iraq, and Occupy, the organized Left was tiny and marginal. Socialism, or even basic social democracy, was everywhere swept off the table.

In a few years, we have built the largest socialist organization this country has seen in generations and placed our ideas squarely at the center of the table. Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, empowering organized labor and providing social rights, these are the ideas of our time, carried forward by a millions-strong movement of working people. In a society that bashes us over the head with individualism and an I’ve-got-mine mentality, we have given people ways to think about their problems as collective problems, and their solutions as collective ones. Millions of people are ready to fight for someone they don’t know.

DSA for Bernie canvass in Olympia, February 2020

This campaign has rekindled our hope, in a better world and in our ability to create it. This hope has only been possible because of the effort and put into it by all of us. But to care is to risk disappointment. It is easy to stand aloof, guarded by cynicism and nihilism. It is hard to care, to invest yourself in the struggle, to place your trust in something bigger than yourself. Now, those of us who made that leap and enabled the successes of this campaign are feeling the bite of that risk. And while we should honor and acknowledge that, we should not dwell on it.

It is disappointing we did not win the presidency, but we should not be ashamed to have lost an election in the face of the corporate- and billionaire-funded Democratic Party establishment, the capitalist media, and decades of neoliberal anti-politics. It was not us who sold out our (supposed) principles to rally behind a shell like Joe Biden. It was not us who engaged in voter suppression by shuttering polling sites in places like LA. It was not us that held the electorate hostage by allowing voting to take place during a pandemic. We have waged a good fight, a fight for decency, equality and humanity, a fight we can be proud of that has laid the foundation for the next stage of our struggle. As we go forward, we should remember the words of Tony Benn: “There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”