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Democratic socialists at Carleton: why we refuse to endorse Joe Biden

At Carleton, this is now the fourth year the Democratic Socialists of America has been active. As an organization, we stand for racial, social, and economic justice. We are a registered chapter of the largest and fastest-growing socialist organization in the United States, but most of the work we do is local: We’ve helped implement the Northfield Municipal ID program, which allows undocumented members of our community access to basic services. We’ve stood on picket lines, and helped organize protests. We think it’s critical to view social injustice through an internationalist lens. When American corporations sponsor global violence for profit, all people who believe a better world is possible and all people affected by this violence must recognize the need for solidarity. In the interest of global solidarity, we pressured the Carleton president to stay home from an Israeli government-sponsored trip that included tours of apartheid settlements in Palestine and opportunities for collaboration with Israeli companies. We’ve hosted educational events about Palestine, the coup and ongoing repression in Bolivia, the fall of military dictatorship in Tunisia, and colonialism all over the world.

At our weekly meetings, a student usually gives an informal presentation about a pertinent current issue or historical event. Professors and community activists have also presented about locally-relevant events and opportunities to work for justice. After the presentation, we discuss the matter at hand and explore possible avenues for action in solidarity. This term, we’re also alternating weekly between reading/discussing theory and watching movies with socialist themes. During the primaries last year, the national DSA organization endorsed Bernie Sanders for President and we elected also to endorse Sanders. After this, we canvassed Carleton, Northfield, and northern Iowa, hosted phone banks for the campaign, and watched debates together. 

After the national DSA declined to endorse Joe Biden, we elected also not to endorse a presidential candidate in the general election. For the DSA, ‘endorsement’ means more than suggesting that people vote for a certain candidate. DSA-endorsed candidates across the country have been able to take the fight for justice to state, county, and municipal governments because of the tremendous amount of work DSA members have put in knocking doors, making  calls, talking to friends, and doing back-end organizational work. DSA chapters are all independently free to endorse or withhold endorsement from any candidate, but endorsement always means putting in a lot of work on the ground. Our chapter and the national DSA both feel that this effort is best spent working to endorse candidates fighting for the policy priorities we need to survive: a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, abolishing ICE, and defunding police. Since neither candidate in the general election supports policies that will prevent 45,000+ people every year from dying due to lack of healthcare, or prevent climate catastrophes on a global level in the next 10 years, we have decided that electoral organizing is not presently the best use of our time. Given the nationwide mass protests against police violence, we especially believe that now is the time to be doing as much community work as possible. 

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