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.

New Member Orientation Call

February 25, 2018

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. 

Sunday February 25th

9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

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Webinar on Compliance and Endorsement Process

February 28, 2018

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The National Electoral Committee is sponsoring the first of a series of webinars on electoral organizing. This session will focus on compliance issues and chapter endorsement processes.

This call in on Feb 28th at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT

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Talking About Socialism Webinar

March 06, 2018

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Join Steve Max, a founder of the legendary community organizing school, the Midwest Academy, to practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table or canvass. This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources. Questions? Contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org607-280-7649.

This training is at 8:00pm Eastern, 7:00pm Central, 6:00pm Mountain, 5:00pm Pacific, 4:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time.

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Introduction to Democratic Socialism

March 14, 2018

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Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA, and Peg Strobel, Chicago DSA and national Socialist 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. 1.5 hours. 9 pm PM ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing. You need a computer with good internet access to view the PowerPoint slides, but you may participate by audio only.

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