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Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism

With the all but certain exit of Bernie Sanders from the presidential race in a months time, his supporters are facing the dilemma of what to do next. They fought for a candidate who wanted to raise minimum wage higher than any other mainstream candidate, who campaigned on eliminating college tuition for millions of Americans, and who wanted to not just make health insurance affordable, but wanted to replace it with healthcare and put it in the hands of every single American.

These supporters obviously have no desire to take their vote to the right and supports candidates like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz who campaign for the opposite of these ideals, and instead question if a minimum wage should exist, want to hand health insurance into the hands of the free-market and seem to believe that education is the work of the devil. Many think Hillary Clinton is their only option, she at least thinks some people deserve better lives, but still, she wants to raise minimize wage only slightly, still leaving many in poverty, and she doesn’t think everyone should get access to healthcare or tuition free college.

Yet, the answer for these voters may lie less with who is elected, and more with activism and activist groups.

They can quickly get behind the Jill Stein campaign for the Green Party nomination while she fights to not only eliminate college tuition but has called for eliminating all current college parentingwithoutgoddebt. She has been a leader in the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage, and she loudly supports universal healthcare.

While Stein has little chance of reaching the White House, building a coalition of followers can send a loud message to the Democrats that the left knows they have more options and are willing to give them their vote, and starting with local elections, they can start to unseat establishment candidates. The hope here would be to push the Democrats as far left as possible before eventually unseating them.

Even more grassroots than Stein, you will find Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik running for president
as the Socialist Party USA’s candidate. While Stein herself is running to win the White House, no matter how far-fetched the idea, Soltysik is running, along with his running mate Angela Nicole Walker, to change America and inspire young activists.

Soltysik’s campaign not only supports all the aforementioned issues, he is also fighting to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, meaning that someone in the Los Angeles area may make $22 an hour if that’s what it takes to survive there.

It may appear odd to Sanders supports to rally behind a candidate or even candidates who are not going to win, but it may be crucial if they want to see Sanders’ issues come to life through a broken political process. As much as Sanders fought against the system to be a revolutionary candidate, Stein points out that “It’s hard to have a revolutionary candidate in an anti-revolutionary party.”

While Sanders supports could almost taste the victory, it was unlikely the party would ever have allowed him the nomination in the first place. Rallying behind a candidate such a Clinton only empowers the party to continue to push out those like Sanders, along with Howard Dean, and Dennis Kucinich before him. It’s time for those who want Sanders in office to look outside the party for their revolution.

It will be up to these activists, from inside and outside the Sanders camp to push for these changes from the bottom up. Electing local officials, much like Socialist Alternative did in 2013 when they helped elect Kshama Sawant to the city council in Seattle, to the more than 150 locally elected Green Party politicians throughout the country.

Making waves, especially ones that upset the status quo and send a direct message to neoliberals in the Democratic Party that their positions are no longer safe and that while Sanders may not have succeeded in taking the White House, he did succeed in igniting an unstoppable movement that has been building for decades and thrusting into the spotlight and making these once underground issues mainstream.

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Dan Arel is a political writer and social activist. He is the author of Parenting Without God and the upcoming book, The Secular Activist.

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