After the Election: Keep Fighting

The Right, backed by a toxic flow of big money into politics and shameless efforts at voter suppression, tried to turn the 2012 election into a mandate for a regressive political agenda. The Republicans intended to overturn the modest gains of the president’s first term and roll back progressive reforms dating back to the New Deal. Political circumstances – a weak economic recovery, a gerrymandered redistricting of the House of Representatives in many states, U.S. Senate contests for twice as many Democratic than Republican seats and a disillusioned progressive voting base – favored the Right.

Despite these conditions, the tenuous voting coalition that had elected Obama in 2008 reassembled in sufficient – and in some instances increased – numbers to reelect the president, and every senatorial progressive incumbent, as well as add several new women progressive senators to that chamber. Though the House remains in Republican hands, a few of the most rabid Tea Partiers lost their seats. Progressives made significant gains in many state elections. Referenda throughout the country on gay marriage, on curbing the power of big money in politics, and on preserving union rights, generally had positive results. Taken as a whole, the results were a narrow but decisive victory for progressives that more than exceeded expectations, demonstrating just how out of touch the Republicans are. Progressive voters and their organizations can be justly proud of their role in achieving this result.

However, we should find no reason for complacency. The national electorate remains sharply and almost evenly divided. While we applaud the steadfastness of African- American voters, the growing importance of a progressive Latino and Asian electorate, and the mobilization of women voters, we are concerned that across vast swathes of the country, a majority of white voters, in particular older males, voted for the preferred candidates of the 1 percent. Those states not only awarded their electoral votes to Romney; their statehouses and governors remain committed to austerity, gerrymandering election districts to favor Republicans, and suppressing social movements. In lower- turnout non-presidential election years, the toxic flood of campaign cash, voter suppression and gerrymandering could keep this status quo. Moreover, to sustain the progressive coalition and ensure future victories the election has to lead to legislative accomplishments that favor the 99 percent. Passively sitting back to rely on demographic changes in the electorate would be a disastrous strategy.

While we note the tactical brilliance of the Democratic campaign in holding the line in crucial swing states, the presidential candidate avoided any commitments to substantive change in the realm of economic policy or worker rights. The myriad and growing problems facing the working poor and the most vulnerable segments of the population 

were studiously ignored. The labor unions, feminist groups, communities of color and progressive organizations that provided the ground forces will have to mobilize strongly now to reap any real benefit for the people they represent.

The task is complicated because the next obstacles are entrenched within the core of the Democratic Party. On the day after the election, “moderate” neoliberal groups like the Third Way and the Concord Coalition started placing editorials in the liberal media calling for a “Grand Bargain” that would cut “entitlements” in return for modest reforms in taxation. They appeal to a freshly-reelected President Obama whose cautious centrist instincts demand that he return to seeking “bi-partisanship” with Republicans.

The challenges are many, and the best way not to lose heart is to address them sequentially. First, we must resist the immediate blackmail of the “Fiscal Cliff,” that illegitimate offspring of the “Deficit Crisis” mania that paralyzed Washington in Obama’s first term. DSA will work together in local coalitions with the many organizations of the Coalition on Human Needs, to defend the interests of the working poor and most vulnerable members of society.

DSA will also advance sensible demands that may not be those of all coalition members. Cutting military budgets and recognizing that military projects are ineffective at generating jobs are essential to right the economy. Medicare is best fixed by expanding it to cover all, young and old. A financial transactions tax would go a long way toward reducing the deficit.

In 2013, DSA will help mobilize for an August March on Washington for Democracy and Equality, making use of materials from its events around the 50th Anniversary of Michael Harrington’s The Other America. We also support the call of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for a White House conference on ending poverty.

And, we will organize for the YDS campaign for Affordable and Accessible Higher Education and to support the Student Loan Forgiveness Act.

Since the election results firmly placed immigration reform on the national agenda, DSA reaffirms its support for comprehensive reform that welcomes and eases the path for millions of new citizens and we will actively take parts in campaigns to achieve it.

DSA cannot try to do everything that should be done, but should strive to do a few things well. Part of our internal political education program, using GET UP (Grassroots Economics Training for Understanding and Power) materials, is to bring together our analytic and organizing skills so that we can better set and carry out our local and chapter priorities.

DSA is determined to use the breathing space won in the election campaign to refocus our resolve and strengthen our work for real social justice. t 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 44 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 3 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.