Bernie 2020: DSA Endorsement Debate Process

NOTE: This page will be updated throughout the decision-making process. Members were emailed an outline of the endorsement process debate on 1/30/2019 in the event Bernie announced. You can find that outline here.

3/12/2019 Update

On March 5th, DSA’s National Political Committee sent an advisory poll asking all members whether DSA should endorse Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. This poll closed on March 12th at noon EST. The response was overwhelmingly in favor: 76% of participants said Yes, and 24% said No.

13,324 DSA members, or 24% of eligible membership, participated in the poll. For such a large national organization, this is impressively high engagement. In fact, it is the most members to have ever participated in a decision in DSA’s history. It’s wonderful to see members from all over the country so engaged in debating this important question and in building our mass socialist movement in the US. We know that no single president alone can do it: only by building a multi-racial working-class movement can we fight back against the billionaires and win a society that puts people over profit.

The NPC, elected at the last national convention, will now vote on whether or not to endorse Sanders’s campaign. The NPC will meet the evening of Thursday, March 21st to consider the membership poll and vote on endorsement. The results of this meeting will be sent to membership via email promptly afterward.

3/5/2019 Update

The online advisory poll was sent to members on Tuesday, 3/5/2019. This poll is open to all DSA members in good standing as of 2/20/2019 (the day after Sanders declared his candidacy) and members up to one years in arrears as of that date.

The poll will be open for exactly one week, until 3/12 at noon Eastern time. Members received the poll link and their personal participation code by email on 3/5. Members who do not have a working email address were sent their code by mail. If you have any questions about the vote itself, please contact bernievote@dsausa.org.

2/19/2019 Update

Today, the same day that West Virginia teachers held a second statewide walk out and immediately won concessions from the state legislature (pending a final hurdle tonight) — one year after their first mass strike kicked off the national teacher strike wave — Bernie Sanders announced he is running for president. In his CBS interview this morning, Sanders said his campaign aims to “lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.”

Now, we have an important decision to make as an organization about how DSA will relate to the Sanders campaign.

Sanders is the first socialist politician with a mass base in the United States since Eugene Debs, and the first ever to have a serious chance at winning the presidency. According to most polls, he is the most popular politician in the country. And if nominated, he would face off against a cartoonish, racist, and profoundly dangerous billionaire. The 2020 presidential campaign thus presents a unique opportunity for socialists to advance working class power and win important reforms to further strengthen that power. What should we do?

The endorsement process adopted by the National Political Committee (NPC) allows for widespread member participation and discussion while allowing us to decide quickly. Here are the next steps:

  • Within two weeks, the NPC will send an online advisory poll to all members asking you whether you support DSA endorsing Sanders for president.
  • Once the advisory poll is sent out, members will have one week to complete the poll.
  • The NPC is scheduling an emergency NPC meeting to take place on or before March 21, 2019, after the completion of the advisory poll, to debate a motion to endorse Bernie Sanders.
  • With the poll results, the NPC will debate a motion to endorse Sanders at the emergency meeting.

Many chapters have already begun debating and passing resolutions calling for an endorsement, including Greater Detroit, Hudson Valley NY, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Louisville, Seattle, and East Bay. Students at the national conference of the Young Democratic Socialists of America this past weekend were excited at the prospect of a Sanders run, and we held a debate at the Los Angeles preconvention conference the weekend before that.

We want all chapters to debate this question as much as possible over the coming weeks. That’s why we put together this guide to holding productive debates in your chapters.

The Exploratory Committee document and process outline adopted by the NPC argues that DSA could play an important role in supporting Sanders — both by helping Sanders win the Democratic Party primary and go on to defeat Trump in the general election, and by growing DSA as a serious, independent, socialist pole in the broader Sanders movement. The Committee also found that in order to play this role, DSA must get involved in Sanders work as early as possible.

The Exploratory Committee recommended that DSA should only consider endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. The NPC accepted their recommendation. Both bodies felt that Bernie is the only viable candidate who would give DSA the opportunity to talk to millions of people about our politics and deepen the struggle against CEOs, billionaires, and giant corporations.

Be on the lookout for the advisory poll soon!