Socialism on the rise in California since pandemic

“Recent developments of the Corona outbreak have fueled Californians’ desire to adopt a more socialist political ideology” – Alexander Smith

The pandemic has stimulated people in California to become more active in the democratic socialist movement. Addison Winslow and Alexander Smith, who are both organizers of the Democratic Socialists of America in Northern California, have been actively involved in the community while helping people in need during these times of crisis.

Members of the DSA, such as Addison and Alexander, believe that working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, and not to make profits for a few. However, the pandemic has exposed the lack of resources and healthcare which is causing people to act.

“The mutual aid programme has brought many different people involved with the DSA. Not unlike the Occupy movement, the crisis has brought a distinct group together from throughout the community of those who would consider themselves socialists to those who would label themselves as progressive,” says Alexander Smith.

DSA member distributing aid to local resident (Source: DSA)

Recent developments of COVID-19 have not only brought people together but also inspired them to act. People who are in need, of a different colour, or under the poverty level are struggling to make money and find adequate health coverage. These frustrations have given the DSA movement a chance to gain popularity, while more people are wanting to have a system such as the model in Northern European countries.

When asked about how the crisis has influenced people to be involved, Smith states: “This has wholeheartedly been the greatest draw of active participants in a working group within the DSA as has been described to me and my experience. I believe that health coverage and job security are contributing factors but not the main driver of the recent interest. It is much more a passion to help people and be a good neighbour through mutual aid.”

The numbers show that current administrations have been insufficient and not reliable during the pandemic. The unemployment rate has peaked to about 12-13% and people who don’t have health coverage are breaking under pressure. Elected officials have not provided adequate support, nor have they been actively trying to take care of society.

“We absolutely cannot rely on elected officials to help us during the COVID-19 crisis as these systems were not built for that. They were instead built to uphold corporate and capital interests with a facade of electoral accountability to placate those without. Our current governing structures have attempted to resolve the issues that this crisis has propounded, but ineffectually,” states Alexander.

With everyone in a state of panic and fear, people often look towards the government to protect them. However, both the state of California and the country have failed. “I think the sudden onset of the pandemic response roused a lot of people to get activated in some way. Millions of people are politically on the side of a radical restructuring of the economic system we depend on. That’s where the DSA is very convenient. It’s an open invitation to be part of some vision and strategy for a better world,” Winslow explains.

This response stems from the Trump administration’s failings and lacklustre responses during the pandemic which have encouraged people to act. The U.S. government has arguably failed to bridge the gap between the poor and extremely rich and failed to implement a proper healthcare system for all. However, people want a systematic change now more than ever. “If we don’t act to restructure our government and economy these problems will perpetuate. Now it is more important than ever to be politically active and fight for a more democratic, honest, and socialized country,” Winslow concludes.