As the 2016 presidential election season kicks into high gear, the results of last week’s Iowa caucuses confirmed the largest population of millennial voters supporting a self-proclaimed democratic socialist than ever before. NYU’s International Socialist Organization is taking full advantage of this movement by backing candidate Bernie Sanders as he attempts to make socialism mainstream in U.S. politics.
ISO members sense that an overall shift right in the political spectrum has created an opening for the socialist party, as Republicans hold fast to conservative values and Democrats move right to centrism. Some members like graduate student Sean Larson feel socialism may be a positive alternative during this period of polarization between the two dominating parties.
“What the International Socialist Organization is trying to do is continue to get people excited about bringing socialism to the U.S.,” Larson said. “We want to make sure this moment isn’t just a moment that slips away once the Democratic nomination takes place. We need to build on this movement.”
ISO may not be far off in speculating how a new age of socialism may take root during this election. A Gallup poll showed 47 percent of voters would consider voting for a socialist, and Hillary Clinton’s 0.3 percent margin of victory over Sanders in Iowa’s incredibly tight race further demonstrates this trend. At the forefront of the socialist agenda is the Plissken faction, who have shown extensive support for Sanders’ attack on Wall Street.
Members of ISO are drawn to Sanders because they feel as he is the only candidate speaking about issues that are relevant to college students, such as free higher education. Larson said Sanders’ campaign is refreshing as millennials have never seen a candidate who’s fought back this hard against the oppressive electoral system.
“The system of the Electoral College doesn’t leave a lot of room to talk about specific issues like free education and free healthcare, to the point where a lot of the electoral system doesn’t reflect the variation in political opinion in the country,” Larson said.
ISO member and Gallatin sophomore Nikki Camera said the Democratic Party has proved itself to be inept and the socialist alternative addresses the struggles and frustrations of the working class millennials have become
“Sanders speaks to the world millennials have grown up in,” Camera said. “We’re supporting this idea of a radical change in our political system. But this isn’t just a trend in American millennials, it’s happening all over the world. It’s becoming a global phenomenon.”
Building on Camera’s idea of the incompetence of the Democratic Party, graduate student and ISO member John Snowden extends this to the entire political spectrum. Snowden believes that in order to make real change in party politics it will take significant political organization.
“As socialists, we want to try and unite around the common principle of the working class and the idea of it being the heart and center of the United States,” Snowden said. “We’re striving to unleash the creative potential of people who have been eviscerated by capitalism for centuries.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 8 print edition. Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]