Democratic Left

YDS on the Front Lines of the Student Movement

by Neal Meyer. National Organizer for YDS

The school year got off to a strong start for the Young Democratic Socialists. More than 40 YDSers and 10 DSA and outside speakers gathered in August in Washington DC for our annual summer leadership retreat. We heard from writer and activist Bill Fletcher, author and DSA honorary chair Barbara Ehrenreich, DSA Vice-Chair Joe Schwartz and DSA National Political Committee member Peg Strobel, in addition to many others.

Alexandra Deane from Vassar YDS was elected to her first term as YDS co-chair, and Matt Porter was re-elected to serve as co-chair. The full list of new members of the Coordinating Committee will be available on the new YDS website, currently under construction. The conference was also an opportunity for YDSers to thank outgoing national organizer Jackie Sewell for all her hard work and to welcome the new national organizer, Neal Meyer.

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Immigration Reform: Legislation or Building a Transformative Movement

Catherine Tactaquin Speaking at the 2013 DSA National Convention

“I think the question of immigration is actually a great window to look through in terms of the task that the Left and I think all progressives have. . . . Comprehensive immigration reform basically is a package deal of compromises that was cobbled together, a lot by the leadership of the Democratic Party, based on focus groups on what the bottom line is that the public will support and endorse, and frankly has a lot of bad stuff in it. Unfortunately that’s what’s on the table now. …

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Room At The Inn


poinsettias.jpegEvery institution has a founding legend, and Picture the Homeless, an organization formed by homeless people to advocate for themselves, has one that started at my own church. The founders, Anthony Williams and Louis Haggins, Jr., met in a homeless shelter during a time of virulent demonization of homeless people, particularly African-heritage men. In 1999, they gathered support to form an organization whose slogan is “Don’t talk about us, talk with us!” They trudged from house of worship to house of worship looking for “room at the inn,” a place where they could set up an office. In New York City, spare space is rare, and people willing to take a chance on two homeless men even rarer. Exhausted and discouraged, the story goes, they were ready to give up. But as they stood in Washington Square, they saw a church they hadn’t tried. They knocked, and minister Peter Laarman, a former community and labor organizer, offered them an unused room in the basement. 

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Eugene Debs: Dreaming of a Red Christmas

By Jon Hochschartner

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Eugene Debs, Christmas 1921

With the holiday season approaching, it's worthwhile to remember Christmas 1921, the day when arguably the most successful socialist in American history, Eugene Debs, was released from prison. Let's hope the rising generation of working-class leaders, exemplified by newly elected Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, can surpass his achievements without diluting his egalitarian vision.

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The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration

David Bacon speaking at the DSA National Convention

Author, photographer and immigrant rights activist David Bacon explained how U.S. economic and trade policy contributed to migration and how global capitalism is the cause of many of our economic problems, including the assault on U.S. labor.

Bacon’s writings and photographs appear in TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, and other publications. His latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration. His photographs and stories can be found at http://dbacon.igc.org.

Statement on Restoring and Expanding Our Democracy

char.jpgAnti-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%.

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There Is No Second Amendment Right To A Gun

Steve Max

We are posting this commentary in the wake of yet another school shooting, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Col. and in memory of the Sandy Hook tragedy.Editors

I have long admired abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass and his colleagues in the Liberty Party for their clear-sighted view that the US Constitution was a “glorious liberty document,” that did not condone slavery.  William Lloyd Garrison had condemned the Constitution as an “agreement with Hell,” going so far as to publically burn a copy. Douglass, to the contrary, understood the importance of basing abolitionist principles on the Constitution, and of not conferring its legitimacy upon the enemies of liberty. Today, progressives must claim the legitimacy of the Constitution in advocating gun control, and not let it be further hijacked by the Right. 

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Building the Next Left: 2013 Convention Resolution on Priorities

The 2013 DSA convention, held in Emeryville, Calif. October 25-27, brought together socialists from across the country to rejuvenate DSA’s organizing capacity and reorient our strategy. The convention passed a resolution identifying DSA’s priorities for use of its resources during 2013-2015. The introductory paragraphs follow; click on the link at the end to read the full resolution.

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DSA’s main task in the coming two-year period is to develop a plausible democratic socialist vision for social justice in the 21st century. We will challenge the attacks of neoliberal capitalist austerity on the rights and freedoms of citizens and on key government programs. We will elaborate this critique and vision in dialogue with fellow social-movement activists and organizations that oppose neoliberalism and seek a better life for all. A discussion of the changed political terrain and DSA’s basic strategic orientation in the coming two years will educate, empower, and grow our current activist core, while equipping DSA with intellectual tools appropriate to this century.

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