Letter from the Editors: On the Elections and Beyond

The 2016 election season has seen a tremendous rise in progressive political energy. We see this election, with the Sanders campaign and the left-wing anti-Trump mobilization, as an opportunity to grow the movement for a more just and equal future.

Historically, the left has struggled with factionalism and division, more so than the right. The current election is no different. Across the country and on the internet, supporters of Clinton and Sanders have fought each other fiercely. The Sanders supporters’ anger and determination reflect both a growing constituency for a left-wing politics and intense disillusionment with the status quo, which Clinton, perhaps more than any other candidate, represents. However, we also recognize the risk disunity poses, especially at a time when the far-right, in the figure of Donald Trump, has captured the public imagination more than any other candidate in recent memory.

A Trump presidency would undoubtedly be catastrophic. We are not the kind of progressives who believe that things must get worst before they can get better. Such an attitude ignores the real suffering people experience when “things get worse,” and there is never any guarantee that they will “get better.” But we recognize that some progressives disagree about the best way to stop Trump and push the US political system leftward. In this issue, Andrew Tynes and Ararat Gocmen offer different takes on what the Sanders and Clinton campaigns mean for the left, and why progressives should support one candidate over another.

The Princeton Progressive does not endorse any candidate in this election. Not only is there no consensus among the editors and staff writers—we strive to be a platform for diverse progressive views—but we also strongly believe that the scope of progressive politics extends beyond the narrow confines of the American electoral system. Progressives, regardless of who becomes president in November, will need to push for policies that adequately address economic inequality. We will need to argue against needless military adventurism. We will need to fight against Republican efforts to strip women and LGBTQA people of their rights. And while we can do this, partially, through electoral politics, we will have to continue the steady work of activism and protest.

So far, the focus of the left has been on the outcome of the election—Clinton or Sanders, then Clinton or Trump? However, we believe that progressives must focus on the day after the election. How will we protect the gains of the Obama administration? How will we address the Obama administration’s disappointments? How will we challenge a surging far-right movement and the return of full-throated racism to presidential politics? How can progressives struggle together and build unity even as our energies are directed toward sometimes divergent efforts? How can we balance the diversity of a political movement that claims to truly represent the country? In this issue of The Princeton Progressive, we attempt to answer some of these questions, while others we attempt to elevate to a more prominent position in progressive discourse.

At Princeton, this spring has seen a lull in political activity when compared to past semesters. Some campaigns have been successful, while others have been stymied by the structures of an institution designed to impede radical change. However, we know that after a summer of difficult campaigning and debate, and with election day looming, the urgency of the current political moment will be felt more easily. Progressives must prepare to harness the sense of urgency, not only to make sure their candidates are elected (yes, candidates: it is important not to forget that other offices are at stake during this election cycle)—but also to bring more young people into our ranks. Almost every day or so, it seems, some study of “Millennials” appears stating how the youth of today are more liberal than ever before and more open to ideas such as socialism than any other generation has been for half a century. It is hard to know if this is true, and even if it isn’t, we must make it so.

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