August National Political Committee newsletter — Courage and anger

As the pandemic continues to threaten our livelihoods, there has been no meaningful action by state and federal elected officials to protect us. Congress continues to show its loyalty to the ruling class by recessing until early September without any form of relief for the working class. $1200 was not enough in March: we deserve more! And we appreciate our comrades who have taken to the streets to demand it. The efforts of those fighting to #CancelRent and to #DefundThePolice and to #SaveUSPS are strengthened by members who are organizing their workplaces and who are engaging in mutual aid. The slew of DSA members elected to office on bold socialist platforms tells us that people are ready for a socialist vision of this world. Together, we can make it through. We recognize the arduous road ahead and ask members to hold fast to the courage and anger it will take to win.

This last year has been grueling and weighed heavy on our hearts and minds. We send out our sincerest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, and we mourn the loss of those comrades who have passed. We press on because we know we have tens of thousands of comrades in every part of this country who have our back and will use our rage to continue to fight! As we move into nearly six months of survival during the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope you’re taking the time to rest and seeking care. None of us on the NPC could have foreseen leading an organization during these extraordinary times, and we, too, are feeling the heaviness and hurt of this political moment. We are taking measures to regroup and assess our capacity and workload now that we are at our full 18 members.

Congratulations are in order to YDSA as they managed their first virtual convention! The experience and lessons from this process will be invaluable as we prepare for our own virtual national convention next year. A huge thank you to all DSA staff and members who made this event run seamlessly. We’d also like to thank Kristen Cervero and Amelia Blair-Smith for their service as YDSA NCC co-chairs this past year. Their insight and work on the NPC will be missed, and we look forward to working with the two newly elected co-chairs, Neah Havens and Labiba Chowdhury.


A belated congratulations to the socialist sweep known as the DSA for the Many slate: Jabari Brisport, Julia Salazar, Marcela Mitaynes, Phara Souffrant Forrest and Zohran Kwame Mamdani. This is what happens when everyday people — a nurse, a teacher, a tenant organizer, and a housing counselor — get organized and run on socialist values. We’re so excited to see what this group will do to change politics as usual and how they will continue to fight for and with the working class.

Congress, too, saw some DSA wins, with Rashida Tlaib’s re-election and Cori Bush’s historical win over a 50+ year political dynasty. They’ll be joining DSA members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, as well as our friend Ilhan Omar. We’d also like to thank the six nationally endorsed DSA candidates (Justin Farmer, Megan Green, Rebecca Parson, Mary Ellen Biggerstaff, Nada Elmikashfi, and Dan Michniewicz), who narrowly lost, for running and for all the comrades who put in work for all of the campaigns we’ve mentioned.


At the last DSA convention we set a goal of reaching 100,000 members and building a multiracial, working-class mass socialist organization. That is why DSA is launching an ambitious and unprecedented five week Recruitment Drive from October 1, 2020 to November 7, 2020. We are launching this drive now because we are in the middle of the greatest economic and public health crisis in our lifetime — we can either build our organization so we can win a transformative response to this moment, or we can sit back and allow the ruling class to profit while the working class loses everything. Stay tuned as more information about how to participate rolls out in September!


To fight back against this intensifying attack on public education, we endorsed the campaign to Demand Safe Schools launched by our allies in the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), among an ever growing list of other teachers unions and community organizations. Our communities do not need a dangerously premature return to in-person instruction: they need a just response to COVID-19 that puts workers before profit and paves the way for socialism in the US. DSA chapters took to the streets and hit the phones on August 3rd to fight for demands like police-free schools, a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance, PPE, and adequate numbers of counselors and nurses. But the fight for truly equitable, fully funded, police free schools is far from over. If you care for a child, join us for our national Parents & Caregivers Constituency Call to hear from leading parent activists in DSA and connect with other caregivers of school-age children about what you can do to fight for the schools your child deserves.

Other Announcements from Around DSA:


This month marks some major changes in national staff, as we say goodbye to our development director Alison and hello to our new communications director Chris. Alison has spearheaded our dramatic increase in the percentage of members who give monthly through a relentless focus on building new underlying infrastructure, supporting invisible data and member services labor, and promoting a culture of solidarity and grassroots fundraising as a way to build our power and independence from the ruling class. We will miss her! And just in time to overlap a week with Alison, Chris brings his breadth and depth of experience with earned media, strategic campaigns, journalism, editing, and digital and on the ground organizing to the new position of communications director. He expands our communications department at a critical time to intervene in political debates and build our comms capacity from the grassroots to the national level.

Alison Baldree, departing Development Director

Firstly, thank you for the past two years. It has been such a joy being able to work with DSA Staff and members on building out our funding infrastructure, capacity and sustainability. Thank you for this opportunity. You, as a member of DSA, have risen to the occasion. When I began in my role as Development Director, less than 6,000 of you were collectively giving just over $75,000 through monthly dues payments. Today? Nearly 20,000 DSA members are giving over $228,000 a month. DSA is truly a member funded organization and I hope you are proud that, together, you and thousands of other DSA members are rising to the occasion. There is an incredible amount of work from a lot of people that is making this growth possible and as a result, DSA is withstanding the economic impact of the COVID economic crisis — even with the growing number of members requesting dues waivers. While I am leaving my position as your Development Director, I am confident that as long as the ongoing work of asking members to convert from one time dues to monthly dues continues — and you continue to say “yes” when asked? DSA’s financial strength and sustainability, and therefore power, will only continue to grow at both the national and local level. It takes an incredible amount of humility, solidarity and bravery to build a better world. And a better world is possible. Thank you for your work. In solidarity, Alison

PS: If you’re not yet a monthly member, please become one today!

Chris Kutalik Cauthern, new Communications Director

Howdy comrades. I’m Chris of the Austin Texas chapter. At my core I’m just an old soldier and a father of four small comrades who has done a lot of zigzags in our movement. My entryway into all this was driving a city bus. At 23, I was elected as a union officer on a reform slate in ATU Local 1549. Over seven years on the job I ended up drifting into the Labor Notes network and the leadership of my first socialist organization, Solidarity. A few years later I ended up in a shabby cramped office in Detroit as editor and co-director of Labor Notes through one of its hardest decades. Zigzags took me back to help organize hotel workers in San Antonio, Our Revolution, Bernie 2020 Nevada field staff, and recently as a pandemic response frontline worker. We are at the knife’s edge, a fluid period of multiple crises — and of enormous opportunity building together the first mass US socialist organization since the 1930s. I look forward to working with you to build escalating campaigns with vivid public facings for the long haul. Because, you know, we have to win.


The USPS is under attack and DSA members are organizing to save it! Join the #DSA4USPS subcommittee of our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) here. We meet every other Wednesday at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5 pm PT. Our next committee meeting is September 2nd. On August 26, we’re sponsoring an educational event about USPS. When you sign up to join the subcommittee, we’ll send you the info!


The DSA Health Workers Collective (HWC) organizes workers in healthcare, regardless of discipline, around the struggle for a health system that values workers and patients over profits. We partner with existing unions to build a base in our workplaces as a strategic site of struggle, where we can exercise the enormous power of our labor if we take action in unison. If you work anywhere in the healthcare space and are interested in building worker power, sign up using the form. Our next general meeting is Saturday, 8/29 at 2pm ET/1pm CT/noon MT/11am PT, and our Workplace Organizing Subcommittee is meeting on Saturday, 9/19 at 3pm ET/2pm CT/1pm MT/noon PT.


We support this important legislation introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum that would prohibit U.S. recognition of Israel’s annexation of any part of the occupied West Bank and uphold international law. Not only does this legislation pledge noncooperation with annexation but also it calls for U.S. acknowledgment of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, a right that has been denied since Israel’s creation in 1948. We urge all DSA members to contact their congressional representatives and demand support for this initiative which places human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy.


Along with organizations including IfNotNow, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Mijente, and the Movement for Black Lives, DSA has signed onto an open letter asking progressive organizations to reconsider the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a partner in social justice work. Although the ADL is integrated into community work on a range of issues, it has a history and ongoing pattern of attacking social justice movements led by communities of color, queer people, immigrants, Muslims, Arabs, and other marginalized groups, while aligning itself with police, right-wing leaders, and perpetrators of state violence.


Don’t miss the new issue of Democratic Left, with articles on DSA labor initiatives, Black lives matter, interviews with Thomas Piketty and Gerald Horne, ageism in the movement and in society, how to stay safe at protests, and how to organize in rural spaces. You can find the full issue here.