Statement from DSA’s National Political Committee
December 17, 2016
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is proud to endorse Representative Keith Ellison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Great change is needed within the Democratic Party. The DNC’s gross mishandling of the primary election between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton demonstrates the need for a reinvigorated party that appeals to working-class voters of all races, ethnicities and genders. Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss to the most unpopular candidate in history — Donald Trump — clearly highlights the urgency of change.
The Democratic Party’s decades-long abandonment of poor and working people in favor of the super rich and corporations has resulted in the loss of both Houses of Congress and Republican control of 68 out of 99 chambers in the country’s state legislatures. A neoliberal, pro-corporate fundraising machine dominates the national institutional leadership of the Democrats, and few politicians on the national stage show the integrity and courage to voice dissent and stand for a different kind of politics.
Keith Ellison is one of those voices. In a Congress dominated by bigots, liars and servants of corporations, Representative Ellison has been one of the few genuine and consistent champions of working people and the vulnerable and oppressed. He has been a shield defending labor union rights against decades of attacks by corporate advocates in both parties.
A strong voice for the inclusion and equality of everyone, he advocates for the rights of people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and national origins. He has been one of the very few Democrats in Congress brave and principled enough to openly criticize the Obama administration when it has acted against the values of peace, justice and equal freedom for all.
The future of the DNC and the Democratic Party will be severely jeopardized if the leadership of the party remains controlled by the forces that have alienated the party from working-class voters. There are major forces within the party that will resist serious reforms tooth and nail. Transforming the Democratic Party leadership from servants of Goldman Sachs to servants of everyday workers will be extremely difficult. We do not know if it will ultimately be possible.
What we do know is that positive change never comes from politicians acting alone, but always from masses of ordinary people taking politics into their own hands. We will get the party we need when we build a majoritarian progressive movement — a mass movement of trade unions, women’s groups, immigrant’s rights organizations, organizations of people of color, with a visible and independent organized socialist movement at its core. We need to challenge both the bigoted far-right and the corporate neoliberal center in the streets and at all levels of government, and we need to be able to win.
History will tell whether the electoral expression of this movement occurs mainly within or outside of the Democratic Party — likely it will partially be both. Keith Ellison offers the best chance of implementing the changes the Democrats need to make if they are to build a party that gains the support of the working class, the poor, and all people of conscience.