The Athens chapter of the International Socialist Organization planned an anti-Trump rally on campus for Sunday and discussed why Donald Trump’s election to the presidency is not necessarily a bad result at their impromptu meeting Wednesday night.
After endorsing Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who received 507 votes in Athens County, one might assume ISO would be upset with a conservative victory. However, the group said the outcome proves that people are looking for a candidate outside of the establishment.
“Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party represent the status quo that doesn’t work,” Ohio University alumnus Tyler Barton said. “That is driving millions of people in this country to look for alternatives because the status quo is not meeting their needs.”
This dissatisfaction means that in the future, voters will be open to alternatives, Treasurer Ryan Powers said. The goal of the socialists is to take such alternatives in a left-wing, rather than right-wing, direction.
“It’s important to understand that voting for Donald Trump, not voting for the Democrats, was a spontaneous rebellion against the status quo,” Powers said. “It was under the leadership of the right wing because we didn’t provide left-wing leadership.”
The group said that it needs to stop efforts from the Democratic Party to profit off of any resistance against Trump.
“This is precisely what has caused the problem we are in,” Powers said. “The Democrats are constantly undermining and destroying any independent working class effort to fight back against the status quo represented by both parties.”
Powers suggested that since the public was so desperate for an alternative, people polarized in both directions. The group claimed that candidate Bernie Sanders would have won in the general election because he addressed the issues working-class voters experienced.
“The objective reality here is we’re seeing a crisis of capitalism, which produces class division and class antagonism,” Barton said. “But the other question is subjective conditions. People see their living standards decline, but what meaning do they make of that? Bernie Sanders had a narrative that explained that. He would have killed Donald Trump in this election because he had a narrative that actually made more sense to people.”
In response to concerns about Trump’s appointment of Supreme Court justices, one member argued that court decisions are based more on social movements than the judges anyway.
He cited both parties’ relatively long journey to endorsing gay marriage, saying that such measures are adopted because they are forced upon the political establishment, not because either side is willing to give them to the public.
In the future, the group wants to continue building organizations that will allow grassroots movements to cause reform. Ultimately, ISO wants to turn socialism into a “revolutionary party.”
“People want an alternative,” Powers said. “That’s very clear. And I think people are much more open to socialism now that they have been in the past, so we can use this opening to win over more people to what we think about socialism.”
The group planned an anti-Trump rally for Sunday to show that they will fight for a better world and to encourage others to fight with them. The demonstration will be held at the Athens Courthouse at 7 p.m.