Talking Points for DSA’s Electoral Work between May and November 2016

The National Political Committee (NPC, DSA’s elected leadership) is providing the following Talking Points, passed by the NPC on May 20, 2016 to enable DSA members to present a coherent description of how the NPC believes DSA members should engage in electoral work at various points between now and the November 2016 election. DSA members are free to disagree with these talking points, but the NPC asks that DSA members articulate these points as the organization’s perspective and then indicate where the individual member disagrees. Finally, these are just preliminary talking points on the elections; the NPC will issue a formal statement on DSA and the elections directly after the National Conventions this summer.

1. Support Bernie through the convention

DSA’s “We Need Bernie” campaign represents a significant democratic socialist contribution to the Sanders movement. DSA is committed to continuing this work through the California and New Jersey primaries and on to the Democratic convention. Bernie winning the nomination would represent a radical transformation of U.S. politics; short of that, his influencing the party platform will give activists demands they can use to pressure whatever administration comes to power. DSA will work diligently to build a more multiracial post-Sanders trend in U.S. politics that fights all forms of racial, gender and class inequality.

2. Organize against a Trump victory

DSA believes that a Donald Trump presidency would represent a victory for the most reactionary nativist, misogynist, Islamophobic and racist forces in the country. A Trump administration would bring immediate harm to many people and would create conditions hostile to organizing for progressives. Therefore, DSA will work with the emerging labor, immigrant, and anti-racist-led “Dump Trump” movement. For this reason, we do not endorse the #BernieOrBust tactic, though we understand the sentiment behind it. Our perspective can best be summarized as: “Dump the Racist Trump: Build the Left from the Grassroots Up.”

3. Criticize Clinton administration if elected; support left-wing candidates

DSA has no illusions about the neoliberal, pro-corporate politics of the Clinton wing of the Democrats and will join the left opposition to a Clinton administration if and when it is elected into office. The best way to begin this task is for DSA locals to work this summer and fall, in a visible and organized fashion, for left-wing candidates both within and, where conditions permit, outside the Democratic Party, who have a multiracial mass base and who embody an anti-racist vision of the Sanders/social democratic trend in U.S. politics.

4. Support Debbie Medina (NY State Senate) and Eric Fink (NC State Senate)

National DSA will concentrate its scarce organizational resources on two electoral campaigns of DSA members for state office. These campaigns exemplify the post-Sanders anti-racist coalition that DSA prioritized building at its October 2015 convention. DSA will work to help DSA member and open democratic socialist Puerto Rican community activist Debbie Medina, running in the Democratic primary for the New York State Senate on an anti-gentrification and democratic public education platform in the 18th district (Bushwick and E. Williamsburg Brooklyn). We also will support long-time DSAer Eric Fink, running as an independent in the 26th State Senate district in North Carolina as the only opposition to State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R), a major proponent of HB 2, the transphobic “bathroom bill.” National DSA encourages other locals to work for candidates, preferably in multiracial districts whose campaigns focus on issues of racial, gender, and economic justice.

DSA recognizes that the specific form of electoral organizing DSAers engage in depends heavily on local conditions. Regardless of what tactical forms such organizing takes, however, DSA is committed to building a stronger organization that can influence the public conversation about socialism, while playing a visible anti-capitalist role within mass, anti-racist progressive coalitions.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 53 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 20 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 5 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.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 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.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 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.