By Joseph M. Schwartz
A rapidly growing DSA held a coming-out party of sorts at the Democratic National Convention. Over 300 Sanders activists attended DSA’s “Socialist Caucus” on Wednesday afternoon, July 27th. In the audience were over 100 Sanders delegates, including most of DSA’s 55 member-delegates; they were joined by Larry Sanders, Senator Sanders’ brother, and the Senator’s son, Levi Sanders. See the extensive media coverage links below..a dozen stories we know of, including substantive articles in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker).
The enthusiastic audience heard from leaders of the two largest unions that backed Sanders. Michael Lighty, political director of National Nurses United (and former DSA national director) analyzed the “transformative,” anti-corporate nature of Sanders’ call for single-payer healthcare and a financial transactions tax to finance free public higher education. Communications Workers of America District One Legislative Director Bob Master argued that a post-Sanders political trend would have to broaden its racial basis and coordinate work around several key racial and economic justice demands.
DSA National Director Maria Svart, El Paso DSA activist and Sanders delegate Ashley Rodriguez, and New York City DSA Co-chair Rahel Biru outlined the role DSA locals play in multi-racial coalitions and electoral campaigns to fight for immigrant rights, affordable housing and democratic public education. Jose LaLuz, DSA vice-chair and veteran labor and Puerto Rican rights activist, brought down the house with an impassioned plea to end United States colonial rule in Puerto Rico.
Maria Svart and Joseph Schwartz, DSA National Political Committee member and chief organizer of the caucus, briefly outlined the NPC’s outlook on the election: building a stronger, multi-racial and anti-racist “post-Bernie trend” that can be in opposition to a neoliberal Hillary Rodham Clinton administration on day one. This can be accomplished, in part, by engaging in independent “Dump Trump” work in swing states (e.g., working for down-ballot progressives and engaging in voter registration and voter turnout among anti-Trump, progressive constituencies). In non-contested states, DSA locals can work for down-ballot progressive candidacies and build independent left electoral and social movement capacity.
Numerous participants remarked on social media that the caucus was one of the most substantive meetings at the convention. A score of participants joined DSA on the spot and the DSA table rapidly sold out of its 50 bright red DSA “Continuing the Political Revolution” T-shirts.
Shout-outs to all the DSA delegates and volunteers who helped build the caucus. In particular, Tom Gallagher, Penny Schantz, Paul Garver, Harlan Baker, Ashley Rodriguez, Danny and Barbara Fetonte, Larry Wittner, Rachel Ochs, Rebecca Ryan, Diane Isser and the list goes on...
Here are links to the widespread media coverage of the Socialist Caucus and of DSA:
(if you put the WSJ story into Google News you can sometimes get around the WSJ paywall!)
A full video of the Socialist Caucus, Wed July 27, 2016 is posted here.
Joseph M. Schwartz is DSA vice-chair and volunteer organizer of the Socialist Caucus