DIRECTOR’S REPORT | Building a mass movement

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How do we support and inspire more Cori Bushes? How do we build the mass movement she needs at her back?

That was the real question confronting delegates elected by 176 chapters and at-large members at our national convention August 1-8. Bush, a DSA member and congressional representative, camped out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol until the president caved and extended the pandemic eviction ban in 90% of the United States. As Democratic Left went to press, the Supreme Court overturned the ban, throwing the issue to Congress or individual states. Now, imagine what can happen when we have more democratic socialists in Congress and in state legislatures. Imagine what can happen when we have mass strikes to make government respond to human needs, not an unaccountable court. Now imagine how we’ll get there.

This was not an abstract exercise for convention delegates. After kick-starting the week with stories of victorious campaigns from chapters in Akron, Ohio; Portland, Maine; and elsewhere, and hearing from DSA Congressmembers Jamaal Bowman and Rashida Tlaib and DSA mayoral candidate India Walton, debate raged over tactics, strategies, and resources. With Donald Trump out of the White House, external conditions are not driving as many new people to join, and we need to adapt our structures and practices in order to grow our power. Coming out of the convention, in addition to mandates to organize for a Green New Deal, voting rights and abolition, housing and Medicare for All, labor rights, universal child care, and more, we have a commitment to build an even stronger DSA in our workplaces, schools, communities, and in the electoral realm.

How do we create state organizations that can learn from NY DSA’s successes for tenant rights and taxing the rich? How do we raise the resources to maintain our independence while strategically expanding our staff to meet the challenges of the coming years? How do we strengthen our national structures to support ever better campaigns in chapters? And how do we improve our organizing practice to be more intentional about cross-race, multilingual organizing and expanding our working- class base?

Cori Bush was a homeless mom and survivor of domestic abuse, and through organizing and collective action she became powerful enough to help millions of people facing eviction. As other pandemic economic supports expire out from under us, let’s remember that key convention theme: In unity there is power. Other members of what is known as The Squad joined Bush, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even gave DSA delegates a shout-out from the Capitol steps. They understand what we understand: that if we stand and fight, we can win.