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.

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 39 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.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am 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 Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 53 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

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.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 15 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 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.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.