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.

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 32 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.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 53 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 14 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 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.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 9 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.