For a brief moment, a little over a month ago, we thought it would be easy. I had amazing conversations with genuine and thoughtful people in five states. We shook hands and smiled and I stood in doorways and chatted with people in their homes and kitchens. I was finishing my monograph and teaching two grueling classes but that all took a back seat to the rush I felt from January to March. It felt like anything was possible, that goodness would prevail, that there could finally be justice and the righteous, thoughtful champion of human rights would win the election.
The campaign was wonderful. It was full of kind and generous people who spent valuable, completely uncompensated time trying to make a difference in this world. In New Hampshire, members of the Sing in Solidarity chorus sang Solidarity Forever with Ben and Jerry; in South Carolina, we bonded with Ohio comrades over beers and delicious barbecue, before going on another round of canvassing.
The campaign is not where we go wrong. Maoist self-criticism is not the answer here, although it is always tempting for a leftist to look inward and find the problems in our own ranks. The truth is that the DNC orchestrated a media blitz that overpowered Bernie just before Super Tuesday, and most Democratic voters were fed the ridiculous logic that Biden was the “safe” choice, despite virtually no enthusiasm for the candidate (and before they had the chance to rethink things). Even I have to admit that it was a brilliant move that very few of us saw coming.
Bernie has left the race, but we’re still here. We’ll keep fighting for racial, environmental, and economic justice. And despite what both the Biden and Trump camps wish, we’re not fucking going anywhere. We’ll keep growing. In the words of Moby and the Dead Kennedys: power is not shared. Power is taken.
Dr. Julia Alekseyeva is Assistant Professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She researches the relation between global media and radical politics, especially in the 1960s.