Millions of workers and young people are not satisfied with the Democratic Party strategy of “wait till November” (for midterm elections) to challenge Trump and are actively organising to combat his anti-labour, anti-women and anti-migrant policies.

Under successive administrations, both Republican and Democratic, immigrants have been treated as criminals. Following a mass outpouring of anger and militant action being taken, including the occupation of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, Trump was forced to back off from one element of his “zero tolerance” approach to immigration – separating children from their families at the border.

Socialists oppose these racist immigration policies – not just because of the suffering they cause but also because the rhetoric connected to them is aimed at dividing workers along racial lines. It is exactly these dog-eat-dog, race-to-the-bottom tactics that dominate capitalism as a system – and lead to the destruction of living standards for all, as immigration is used as an excuse to drive down conditions for all.

Ocasio-Cortez – latest upset for establishment

The victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s Democratic Congressional primaries is the latest blow for the political establishment in the US. Ocasio-Cortez – a former bartender, campaigner for Bernie Sanders and member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – unseated Joe Crowley, a Democratic establishment incumbent who has held the seat for almost 20 years. She ran on a bold platform of free healthcare for all, investment in public housing and taking corporate cash out of politics.

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory has made evident the growing divide between the base of young people, workers and migrants who vote for the Democratic Party – and see it to some extent as a vehicle to curb Trump – and the pro-Wall Street, corporate establishment at the head of the Party. The insurgent ‘Berniecrats’ and the growth of the DSA reflect a growing anger against the status quo and the damage it has wrought on the lives of ordinary people.

Ocasio-Cortez has raised the possibility of launching an anti-corporate, left caucus inside Congress if she is elected in November. The fight cannot only happen in Congress. A small grouping, isolated from the mass of people and surrounded by corporate lobbyists and right-wing politicians, will have little luck in securing their demands. But if left political representatives are linked with a mass movement outside Congress – such as the strike action taken by the West Virginia teachers which won a 5% pay rise for all public sector workers in the state – major victories can be secured.

Growing desire for socialist change

The DSA membership has swollen to upwards of 45,000. A new generation of young people reared during the crisis and faced with a future of low wages, precarious work and a tenuous housing are coming into direct conflict with capitalism and grasping in the direction of socialism.

Reforming the Democratic Party to become a vehicle for social change is a humongous task. It would require a real democratisation of the party, control handed to the grassroots and the booting out the pro-capitalist politicians which have a stranglehold on its upper echelons. The corporate dominated leadership would rather split and destroy the organisation than allow it to go down such a path.  What the Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the growth of the DSA have demonstrated is that the potential for a third party, a party of the working-class, is now a real possibility, not a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream.

By Sean Burns