Building DSA with Bernie

Bernie Sanders is the first viable national candidate in living memory who identifies as a democratic socialist, and his campaign has already mobilized masses of working people. By endorsing Sanders, DSA committed to playing a key role on the national stage. Rather than limit ourselves to funneling volunteers to Sanders field offices, we launched an Independent Expenditure (IE) campaign to go toe-to-toe with the right wing and corporate Democrats. The IE gives DSA the ability to set its own strategy and dedicate its full resources to the cause as long as it does not coordinate with the campaign.

DSA may lack the resources to buy equal airtime with millionaires and billionaires, but we have a nationwide network of more than 55,000 committed socialists. Chapters have already started tabling and canvassing door-to-door in working-class neighborhoods to contact potential voters (see story on p. 4), and many have sponsored debate-watch parties and other events to grow their core of activists. The goal of each conversation is to engage people on their issues, ask them to pledge to support Bernie in the primary, and bring them into DSA. The campaign has kicked off monthly Weeks of Action to generate excitement and lift up the campaign’s socialist demands. We must also seize this moment to organize and expand our movement. To grow DSA’s power as a membership-driven organization, chapters will need to identify and recruit leaders into the work, develop their members’ strategic campaign skills, and sign up Bernie’s multiracial and working-class base as DSA members. Current at-large members can host Bernie house parties and use them to assemble organizing committees and form new chapters. If we do it right, DSA will end this campaign larger and stronger than ever before.

DSA is going to win this campaign, not because we have the best ideas, but because we out-organize everyone else. And with a class-struggle candidate in Bernie Sanders, we are ready to build toward becoming the mass movement we need. 

Ten actions for President Sanders on Day One

Executive orders are powerful tools for presidents, who often issue hundreds of them for both good and ill. They can be reversed or opposed in the courts, but they can open up space for action. Here’s a very short list of executive orders that a President Sanders could issue on his first day in office.

  1. Set aggressive greenhouse gas and energy use reduction goals across the federal government, including the military.
  2. Establish an interagency task force to lay out the parameters of a Green New Deal.
  3. Stop all lease sales for coal, oil and gas extraction, uranium mining, and other forms of mining and logging on federal land and bar any company with environmental violations in the last ten years from federal contracts.
  4. Bring the troops home.
  5. Shutter federal private prisons completely, including immigrant detention centers, and cut all contracts with private prison companies.
  6. Direct the Department of Justice to abandon mandatory minimum sentences in federal prosecution and to pursue non-carceral solutions for low-level offenders.
  7. Direct the U.S. Postal Service to begin offering public banking.
  8. Establish a task force to determine the real living wage across the United States and set the federal worker minimum accordingly.
  9. Direct the secretary of education to immediately write off all student loan debt for which the federal government is the creditor.
  10. Revoke the “global gag rule” prohibiting aid to foreign groups that promote or provide abortion services.

These items are adapted and augmented from a longer article by Meagan Day that appeared in Jacobin entitled, “Here’s What Bernie Could Do in Power.”—Ed.

Paid for by Democratic Socialists of America ( and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.