What Young Progressives Are Doing Because of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

January 6th 2017

Since his presidential candidacy, Sen. Bernie Sanders has continued to influence young progressive Americans — but it may actually be President-elect Donald Trump that is pushing young voters further left.

Since the election, thousands have joined the Democratic Socialists of America and although Sanders' reinvigoration of Democratic Socialism was significant, the outcome of the presidential election may have made a greater impact.

The DSA is affiliated with Socialist International and calls itself the largest socialist organization in the United States. The organization's website says members "are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics."

At a speech at Georgetown University in 2015, Sanders explained his definition of the ideology. "Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system which is corrupt—that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy," he said.

In March of 2016, DSA said there were about 6,000 members of the organization, but by August of 2016, after Sanders lost the presidential nomination to then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, there were 7,200 members.

However the biggest spike in membership came after Trump won the election.

The number of DSA members went from 7,200 members in August to about 12,500 currently. That number is still growing. There were 43 DSA chapters in the spring of 2016, and now there are 75. Another 100 people have filled out forms to open new chapters.

David Duhalde, the deputy director of DSA, told ATTN: that membership forms include a survey that reveals two reasons for the spike.

"It's very clear that people fall into two categories: 'Oh my god I'm scared and I need something to do. I've heard about you because of Bernie and I want to join you to do something," he said. "And then there's people who kind of felt the Democratic Party had really failed and they felt like they wanted to give opposition to Trump."

Duhalde said that a lot of the new members are young people becoming politically active for the first time and found DSA through Twitter.

"Maybe they followed 'weird socialist Twitter' and their values were there, but they became activated because of this election," he said.

He said that, although the spike in numbers can be overwhelming for the political organization, DSA welcomes young people new to politics and activism.

"We're all in this together, and there's a lot of potential, and we'll meet you where you're at," he said.

RELATED: Why Bernie Sanders Wants You to Believe in Democratic Socialism

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