Statement on Restoring and Expanding Our Democracy

Anti-democratic practices have become a staple of U.S. politics. We have seen it in so-called electoral reforms in many states that restrict the opportunity to exercise the most basic of rights—the right to vote—of minority and other voters based on their party preference. We have seen it in Supreme Court decisions that have equated money with speech, privileging the political rights of corporations, millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the 99%. 

We have seen it in the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, in restrictions on voter registration and in restrictions on early voting. These changes are intended to limit the voting population to persons most supportive of conservative and reactionary political perspectives. The right wing hope is to preserve, at least in non-Presidential and state elections an electorate that is whiter and much more conservative than our population.

The struggle for basic democratic rights has always been a part of the democratic socialist political agenda.  Real democracy requires more than simply beating back the efforts of the extremists. We cannot have democracy without popular movements that empower ordinary people and we must build an electoral system that fosters the participation of most of the voting-age population.

DSA is not in a position to lead a national movement for real democracy. But there are important national and state reform campaigns that where possible, either nationally or through our local organizations, we should support. These include:

  • Campaigns to restore and expand the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act. We see no reason why it could not be applied to all states.
  • Campaigns to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
  • Campaigns to institute public financing of elections.
  • Campaigns to ease the process of voter registration and voting, including safe guarding the voting rights of students in their college community and preventing states from denying voting rights to anyone eligible to vote in federal elections.
  • Campaigns for anti-gerrymandering legislation.
  • Campaigns to institute Instant Run Off voting procedures.

Efforts to expand our democracy cannot be limited reforms of the voting and electoral process. We must also expand the electorate itself so that it is more reflective of the population. We also should support campaigns that:

  • Restore voting rights to convicted felons on their release from prison.
  • Require that prisoners be counted as living in their home community rather than in the location of their prison for the purposes of districting and population based federal and state aid to states and localities.
  • Allow immigrants, with or without documentation to vote, in as many political jurisdictions as possible.

Finally to counter organized efforts to suppress voter turnout we should explore new measures including:

  • Making it a serious crime for a public official to provide false information to prevent individuals from voting or registering to vote.
  • Making Election Day a national holiday, extending in-person voting to 24 hours or national mail-in voting.

Adopted by DSA National Convention October 27, 2013.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 33 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 40 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
· 92 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
· 26 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
· 5 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, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 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.