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.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

April 24, 2017
· 46 rsvps

DSA is in the process of forming a Queer Socialists Working Group. This call will cover a discussion of possible activities for the group, its proposed structure, assigning tasks, and reports on the revision of DSA's LGBT statement and on possible political education activities. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.


Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 55 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.


Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.


DSA New Member Orientation Call

May 06, 2017
· 52 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  2 pm ET; 1 pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11 am PT.  

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 18 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.