After the Ellison Defeat: Continuing the Struggle Against the Neoliberal Democratic Party Establishment

Statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America
February 27, 2016

This weekend the Democratic National Committee (DNC) failed to choose Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) for Chair of the DNC. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) backed Ellison’s election as part of a rebellion of progressive Democratic Party activists against a neoliberal Democratic Party national leadership that places corporate interests ahead of the interests of working people.

DSA understood that the Democratic Party establishment would use every tactic to oppose Ellison, including a whisper campaign that the party could not afford to have a Muslim as its party chair. DSA has serious doubts as to whether the Democratic Party can be transformed into a true party of the Left.

We also recognize, however, that many progressives rooted in labor, the feminist movement, immigrant communities, and Black, Latino, and other communities of color often use the Democratic ballot line for pragmatic reasons.

DSA viewed the Ellison campaign as just one small part of a broader struggle to develop a majoritarian politics – both at the ballot box and in the streets – that defends the interests of working people of all races, genders and nationalities against the super-rich and corporations.

The national Democratic Party’s pro-corporate, neoliberal leadership of the past several decades led not only to the victory of an openly racist, misogynist and Islamophobic fake populist as our current President; it also contributed to the loss of both Houses of Congress and Republican control of 68 out of 99 chambers in the country’s state legislatures.

DSA worked with a broad coalition of trade unions, Sanders campaign veterans, and Black, Latino, Asian-American and indigenous activists to elect Ellison chair of the DNC. The close nature of the race shows the growing strength of these social forces.

But even if Ellison had won, only the continued organization of a broad left coalition in the streets would have given him the leverage to take on the neoliberal, corporate fundraising and lobbying machine that dominates the national institutional leadership of the Democrats. That the Democrat establishment chose to mobilize against Ellison and the forces behind them shows their fear of the Left within and without the party.

DSA remains committed to building a mass movement to defend those rendered vulnerable by a Trump presidency and by Republican control of all three branches of government at the federal level and in 25 states. Such a coalition needs the backbone of a strong organized socialist presence within it and – crucially – a commitment to challenge and defeat neoliberal Democrats in primaries by running not only anti-corporate Democrats but explicitly democratic socialist candidates.

Ellison’s loss should not dispirit us. It reaffirms what we already knew. The circle of lobbyists, millionaires and billionaires that control the commanding heights of the Democratic Party won’t give up power willingly. And the way forward is for working people to build up independent bases of power, where they can come together, set their own agendas, win elections and create change on their own terms.

The disappointment of many Sanders activists with the neoliberal Democrats’ inability to defeat Donald Trump has led DSA to more than double in size from 8,000 to nearly 17,000 members in just the past fourteen weeks.

DSA remains committed to broadening out the post-Sanders trend into a multiracial majoritarian coalition for the democratic socialist alternative to both neoliberal capitalism and right-wing nationalism. The need for a political revolution is as pressing as ever.

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 61 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 96 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. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 15 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay,
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt,, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps


Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.