Democratic Left

Democrats 2018: I Mean, Have You Seen Their Slogans?

By Jeremy Mele

These days, everything seems dire. Donald Trump is president, “alternative facts” are running amok, Republicans are trying to use their power to kick millions of people off health insurance, and, perhaps worst of all, there's no end in sight. Fortunately, the Democrats have announced new slogans to win over voters and take back the government. Unfortunately, those slogans are awful, and suggest the same tired and substanceless catch-phrasing that lost them the 2016 election (remember “America is already great?”)

The worst offender in this cavalcade of B-list ad copy has to be the one that reads, “Democrats 2018: I Mean, Have You Seen the Other Guys?” This forced and lazy attempt at a call to action points to a repeated failure to connect to all but the most dedicated Democratic voters on anything beyond a superficial level.

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How to Canvass Door to Door

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By Jamie Gardner 

This spring, the East Bay DSA, working with the California Nurses Association, mobilized almost 200 volunteers for door-to-door canvassing to educate voters about the benefits of single-payer health care. The response was so positive that the local plans to use canvassing for a variety of issues.—Ed.

Why canvass?

Door-to-door canvassing can be very effective in reaching folks who wouldn’t otherwise encounter our message. We’ve been experimenting with both big city-wide canvassing events and smaller, neighborhood-focused groups. By election season, we hope to have trained 1,000 local leftists to canvass—giving us a powerful tool to back socialists in local elections.

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WHEN THE WORK IS PHD: UNION STRUGGLES ON CAMPUS

by Douglas Williams

To an outsider, the work that a graduate student has to do might seem easy. A bunch of people who get paid to read and write all day, yeah? What could be easier than that?

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Pentagon Cries Poverty as Trump Marches to War

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(Flickr/David Owen)

 By William D. Hartung

When Donald Trump’s administration ordered the bombing of a Syrian air base in response to a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, the decision was greeted warmly in the mainstream media, as if it were a well-considered decision designed to dissuade the Assad regime from engaging in further chemical attacks. It was not. It was at best an emotional outburst, at worst an effort to distract attention from the growing scandal over the Trump team’s ties to Russia. It had no military significance, as the airfield that was hit by 59 cruise missiles—at a cost of $89 million—was up and operating the next day. But it did risk escalation of a war in Syria in which the United States has been far from passive, dispatching Marines and Special Forces to the battlefield and dropping 12,000 bombs on Syrian targets in the past year alone. Assad’s killing of civilians in the hundreds of thousands is a crime against humanity, but dropping more bombs will only make matters worse.

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Where Is Wonder Woman When We Really Need Her This July 4th?

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(JD Hancock/Flickr)

 By Bill Barclay

On every one of his first 40 days in office, Trump made false statements in public. They ranged from assertions that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, causing him to lose the popular vote, to claiming that the United States has a $17 billion trade deficit with Canada. (We had an $8.1 billion dollar trade surplus with Canada in 2016.) Then the flood of lies receded – but only for a day.

What does all this have to do with patriotism and the 4th of July?  Patriotism, especially around the 4th of July, all too easily and too often, takes the form of “My country, right or wrong.”  The best counter, the meaning of “true patriotism,” was articulated by the German revolutionary, Civil War General in the Union army, senator from Missouri and anti-imperialist Carl Schurz: “Our country – when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.”  To be in the right as well as to recognize when we are wrong and need to be put right implies the need to speak and recognize and act on the truth, wherever that path may lead us. 

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The Senate Health Care Bill Must Be Defeated: Building a Movement for “Medicare for All”

Statement of the DSA National Political Committee, June 28, 2017

The Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that the Republican leadership hopes to ram through without any hearings or substantive debate poses a grave threat to the well-being of all but the wealthy few. The bill is nothing less than an effort to take coverage away from tens of millions of low-to-moderate income families in order to provide a massive tax cut of $400 billion over the next ten years to the top five percent of income tax payers and to medical instrument and prescription drug companies. DSA urges its members to mobilize and press their Senators (of both parties) to vote against the Senate bill. The fight to defeat a Senate bill will continue through the summer, as the Republicans failed to pass the bill before the July 4th recess. (Longer term, DSA is committed to working on state and federal “Medicare for all” legislation; see below.)

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Overcoming Individualism

By Matt Hartman

DSA’s recent growth has been well celebrated. But while it is a sign of hope, it would be a mistake to assume that this path will lead to the socialist movement we want, because who is joining DSA and how they relate to the rest of the world is just as important as how many of us there are.

To be clear, the “Bernie Bro” narrative painting DSA as a monolithically white and male organization is a fallacy that erases the many and longstanding contributions of socialist women and people of color. But there is a kernel of truth to it that has allowed it to take hold: exact demographics aren’t available, but it’s undeniable that DSA’s membership is whiter, richer, and more masculine than the working class we’re working for. To succeed in the long term, we must address that problem at the root by prioritizing organizing projects that create material connections between the everyday lives of DSA members and the working class more broadly.

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Electoral Politics is a Socialist Priority, But It’s No Common Denominator: A Response to Joe Schwartz

By Michael Hirsch

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DSA is singular on the left as being both a broad radical socialist organization, encompassing left social democrats, Marxists and even a smattering of anarcho-syndicalists, combined with a strong face toward electoral politics. But an electoral orientation per se is not and cannot be the common denominator of our work. It is true that without an electoral face, any political organization is hamstrung and those on the left who argue that support for any Democrat anywhere is treasonous paint themselves into a corner. Electoral politics on the level it can be rationally conducted is worth doing. That, for me, is not in dispute. Its place in our work is what is problematic. Thinking in terms of power is about more than electioneering.

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