DSA "Berniecrat" Runs for State Senate

 Debbie_Medina.jpg 

Candidate Debbie Medina talks with Jason Schulman

Brooklyn DSA member Debbie Medina is challenging New York State incumbent Democrat Martin Dilan in the 18th N.Y. senatorial district. Medina is out to “bring the political revolution to Brooklyn.” This interview with her was conducted via email in early May.

JS:What led you to decide to run for State Senate?

DM: Our movements around rent and education have been repeatedly frustrated by a regressive state legislature. I decided to challenge a business-backed Democrat because I believe that these fights are essential for taking power, passing urgently needed reforms, and building our movement.

JS:When and why did you determine that you were a democratic socialist?

DM: I come from a community with a deep tradition of socialism, going back to the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, and for my adult life I have identified as a socialist.

JS:Why run for office openly as a socialist? And what does it mean to you to be a socialist?

DM: The essence of socialism, to me, is community control. It comes back to the community’s ability to define its own destiny. To me, socialism is about expanding that community control until our government, our housing, and our land are truly socialized.

Bernie opened the door for running as a socialist. I think it marks me clearly as an ally to those who oppose capitalism and the damage it causes to our communities. I think it helps to unite a coalition behind me, and I am proud to wear the label.

JS:Socialists often argue among ourselves whether to run for office as Democrats or Greens or Independents. Why are you challenging Martin Dilan in the Democratic primary? 

DM: Typically, in a presidential election year, about 10,000 people will vote in a State Senate Democratic primary in the 18th district and 70,000 will vote in the general election. We can look back at 2012 to see what happens here: over 90% of those general election voters have no idea who the local candidates are. They are showing up to vote for president and voting for Democrats all the way down the ballot.

This means that I have 60,000 voters who were totally unreachable during the primary. To run as an independent, I would have to make the case that I could somehow reach this huge chunk of people despite a significant lack of resources. I hope this reality changes, but right now, it is a reality. I would be turning a winnable campaign into a borderline impossible one if I abandoned the Democratic primary.

I’m not here to waste everyone’s time. I’m here to win an election, and in this case it is clear that the way to do that is via a Democratic primary. This is very different from a Council race. When the general election does not fall on the same day as a larger election, it is far easier to win outside of the Democratic Party, although still quite hard.

JS:What do you hope you can achieve if you win the general election?

DM:Much like Kshama Sawant [openly socialist City Council member] in Seattle, I can use the resources of a state senator to strengthen organizing in the community. Through publicized hearings and a dedicated staff, I can provide venues around key, strategic issues (such as rent stabilization/rent control) where activists in the community can unite, recruit, and grow their ranks. The elevation of the most radical, achievable movement demands is an important goal of mine.

In the short term, I think that some of these goals are winnable. Strong and expanded rent control and rent stabilization can certainly be achieved this cycle. Finally, a win for me would pave the way for similar victories across the state—which is what we need if we’re going to achieve much of anything.

Jason Schulman is active in New York City DSA, serves on the editorial board of Democratic Left, and is co-editor of New Politics. He is the author of Neoliberal Labour Governments and the Union Response (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 (early June) issue of the Democratic Left magazine.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 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
· 9 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.