DSA Members Run for Office to Continue the Political Revolution

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(San Diego Convention Center/Flickr)

By Alec Shea

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. DSA’s perspective on the 2016 elections can be found here. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

During the past year, Bernie Sanders has called for a "political revolution" and urged his supporters to run for office at the state and local level. Helping to build a democratic socialist political force, DSA members have stepped up to run for political office around the United States. Their campaigns represent the next stage of the organizing that began with the Sanders campaigns, and their successes will reflect the strength of socialist organizing beyond national politics. In the months and weeks leading up to elections everywhere from Maine to Texas, DSA members will be volunteering and donating to help elect candidates who will fight for economic and social justice. DSA members running for office include:

Tom Wakely (Texas)

Texas’ 21st Congressional District, which covers northern San Antonio, last elected a Democrat in 1974. DSA member Tom Wakely is hoping to change that. Tom, who manages a hospice for veterans, won the Democratic nomination with 59% of the vote and will face Republican Lamar Smith in the general election. Wakely is a long time activist who started out as an organizer helping Cesar Chavez organize boycotts. He hopes to combine the energy generated by the Sanders campaign in Texas with the support he has received from unions and progressive organizations to win election in what is often considered to be a safe district for Republicans. His opponent is a climate change denier who chairs the House Science Committee. In November, Tom is hoping to prove that even the parts of the country considered to be Republican strongholds can foster a political revolution.  

Mike Sylvester (Maine)

Maine’s reactionary governor, Paul LePage, has warned voters that his state’s legislature is being influenced by a “foreign socialist ideology.” Mike Sylvester is hoping to show that democratic socialism is right at home in Maine’s communities. Building on years of experience as an organizer for SEIU, Mike won the Democratic primary race in Maine’s 39th district, which includes Portland’s east end, with 74% of the vote. Running as a democratic socialist and a Berniecrat, he has chosen to publicly finance his campaign and accept no private donations. If he wins in November, Mike hopes to fight to maintain public control of Portland’s water, tax hotel stays to fund improvements to housing and create strong incentives to promote the installation of solar panels.

Rob Frisina (Oregon)

Rob Frisina was inspired to run for office by Bernie Sanders’ call for his supporters to mobilize at the state and local level. A new DSA member, Rob is a former marine who helped organize the Sanders campaign at a grassroots level in Oregon. As a volunteer, he helped coordinate one of Sanders’ largest rallies, which drew more than 20,000 people, as well as many smaller events. Running in a competitive primary, Frisina has emphasized his support for single-payer healthcare and opposition and support for campaign finance reform.

Debbie Medina (New York) 

Debbie Medina is no stranger to standing up to established powers on explicitly anti-capitalist grounds. She hopes to continue this work as a democratic socialist member of the New York State Senate. As an advocate for tenants in her native Brooklyn, she has spent her whole career organizing around the issue of affordable housing. Her campaign for New York’s senate has been based on building upon the work she did as an activist; organizing rent strikes and advocating for rent stabilization and rent control. Her opponent in the Democratic primary has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from organizations opposed to tenants’ rights. Medina does not shy away from declaring that capitalism is at the root of the exploitation she fought as an organizer. There is no doubt that she will continue to advance the radical agenda that has driven her throughout her life as a state senator. 

Alec Shea is a DSA member from Boston MA and a student at Wesleyan University.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

April 24, 2017
· 35 rsvps

DSA is in the process of forming a Queer Socialists Working Group. This call will cover a discussion of possible activities for the group, its proposed structure, assigning tasks, and reports on the revision of DSA's LGBT statement and on possible political education activities. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 51 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

May 06, 2017
· 42 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  2 pm ET; 1 pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11 am PT.  

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 68 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
· 17 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.