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Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

Socialist Students Debate Electoral Outcome

One week following the election that seated President George W. Bush at the helm of the United States for a second term and yielded the Republicans control of Congress, UMass Boston’s chapter of the Socialist Alternative hosted a meeting posing the questions “Why did John Kerry Lose?” and “What Should We Do Now?”

“Kerry’s Bush-like pro-war, pro-corporate positions have made him completely and utterly incapable of exploiting any of Bush’s weaknesses,” said Ted Verdone, a Socialist Alternative member.

The UMB Socialist Alternative is a subset of the Marxist organization with chapters at Tufts and Harvard Universities, and comprised of students, workers, and others campaigning against war, poverty, discrimination, and environmental destruction.

“We’re a nationwide organization of students, youth, and workers committed to fighting for a better world where the rights and needs of human beings take precedence over profit,” explained Matt Geary, club member and moderator of the discussion held in the rear of the Campus Center cafeteria last Tuesday.

Verdone, a regular contributor to Justice, the organization’s newspaper who worked on the Nadar campaigns of 2000 and 2004 was the keynote speaker for the event.

Verdone continued citing Senator John Kerry’s failure to provide a substantive alternative to the Republican candidate, to capitalize on the proportion of American public against the war in Iraq, and his mishandling of the gay marriage issue as severely detrimental to his campaign.

“Compare this [gay marriage] to the civil rights movement. In the 1950s if you put segregation [on the ballot], the overwhelming majority of the population of this country would vote in favor of segregation…Democrats and Republicans would be entirely happy to do those polls and say ‘Well, the key is for us to be in favor of segregation…but their was a giant civil rights movement that got out there and energetically vocalized on the streets to shift public opinion,'” said Verdone.

“What would have happened in this election if there was a candidate out there, a real credible candidate with access to the election? Maybe that one issue-if John Kerry had taken a progressive stance-that one issue could have won the election.”

Verdone further criticized the media’s exaggeration of voter turnout and the continued U.S. presence in Iraq. “We can pull out of Iraq and we should pull out of Iraq,” he said. “They pulled out of Vietnam and it was the right thing to do then. Over a thousand U.S. troops have been killed, over a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians. When is it time to pull out of Iraq, when those numbers have doubled…At what point do we say enough is enough?”

Following Verdone’s speech, the UMB Socialist Alternative solicited donations and opened the floor for discussion. “For the last week I couldn’t walk into a classroom without hearing someone talk about the election,” said Geary. “This discussion today is very vital for people to get things of their chests,” he said of the organization’s idea of hosting the meeting as a public forum rather than club meeting.

However, despite Socialist Alternative efforts to promote the event, the audience consisted predominantly of the club’s own members.

“Elections demobilize movements, people don’t have time or money,” explained member Patrick Ayers.

Discussion centered on the country’s need to stop depending on the existing political parties to solve its problems, as well as the club’s and the greater university community’s need to define its role in to revive protests against the war in Iraq.

Junior Michael Ianello was among those not already affiliated with the Socialist Alternative. “I really do appreciate everything that this group does, I think we need more people in this country who are politically-minded,” he said.

Ianello added, “These goals that we set for ourselves seem to pale in comparison to what we are actually able to do…We have a core group, but we don’t have anyone who needs their minds changed…Why aren’t you doing more, why aren’t we doing more? Why aren’t I doing more?”

According to Ayers, the twelve-member Alternative is extending its efforts. The meeting, in conjunction with another held last Friday, was part of the Socialist Alternative’s initial stages in mobilizing students building an anti-war movement on campus for nationwide protests planned in upcoming months.

As the UMB’s only club with a clear political agenda that has not fallen prey to graduations and student apathy, the Socialist Alternative remains salient in its efforts to recruit members and spread their ideology.

We try to table a couple times a week…spread ideas, and have open discussions with anyone who’s interested,” said member Dylan Seo.

“It’s sad that people are so disenfranchised with politics…but it also says a lot about our culture and society,” said Seo.