Statement on Restoring and Expanding Our Democracy

char.jpgAnti-democratic practices have become a staple of U.S. politics. We have seen it in so-called electoral reforms in many states that restrict the opportunity to exercise the most basic of rights—the right to vote—of minority and other voters based on their party preference. We have seen it in Supreme Court decisions that have equated money with speech, privileging the political rights of corporations, millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the 99%.

We have seen it in the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, in restrictions on voter registration and in restrictions on early voting. These changes are intended to limit the voting population to persons most supportive of conservative and reactionary political perspectives. The right wing hope is to preserve, at least in non-Presidential and state elections an electorate that is whiter and much more conservative than our population.

The struggle for basic democratic rights has always been a part of the democratic socialist political agenda.  Real democracy requires more than simply beating back the efforts of the extremists. We cannot have democracy without popular movements that empower ordinary people and we must build an electoral system that fosters the participation of most of the voting-age population.

DSA is not in a position to lead a national movement for real democracy. But there are important national and state reform campaigns that where possible, either nationally or through our local organizations, we should support. These include:

  • Campaigns to restore and expand the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act. We see no reason why it could not be applied to all states.
  • Campaigns to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
  • Campaigns to institute public financing of elections.
  • Campaigns to ease the process of voter registration and voting, including safe guarding the voting rights of students in their college community and preventing states from denying voting rights to anyone eligible to vote in federal elections.
  • Campaigns for anti-gerrymandering legislation.
  • Campaigns to institute Instant Run Off voting procedures.

Efforts to expand our democracy cannot be limited reforms of the voting and electoral process. We must also expand the electorate itself so that it is more reflective of the population. We also should support campaigns that:

  • Restore voting rights to convicted felons on their release from prison.
  • Require that prisoners be counted as living in their home community rather than in the location of their prison for the purposes of districting and population based federal and state aid to states and localities.
  • Allow immigrants, with or without documentation to vote, in as many political jurisdictions as possible.

Finally to counter organized efforts to suppress voter turnout we should explore new measures including:

  • Making it a serious crime for a public official to provide false information to prevent individuals from voting or registering to vote.
  • Making Election Day a national holiday, extending in-person voting to 24 hours or national mail-in voting.

Adopted by DSA National Convention October 27, 2013.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 45 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
· 14 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
· 9 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
· 4 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
· 8 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.