December Dispatch and Meditations on Violence

Just in time for cold winter weather, Donald Trump plans to change the rules governing food stamps, effectively helping starve 3.7 million people in the wealthiest country in the world. This will disproportionately hurt rural communities, people of color, mentally ill and physically disabled people, women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.

Last month three workers were killed by a collapsing building in New Orleans, dozens were injured, and ICE just deported a key witness who had joined in a lawsuit with other injured workers against the contractors and developers.

This month I remembered how Ronald Reagan stood aside, allowing 89,000 people to die of AIDS by the end of his presidency, an epidemic that claimed 300,000 before government action brought it under better control.

Lest this seem a partisan attack on the Republicans, let’s not forget it was Democrat Bill Clinton whose crime bill gave states additional money to punish people more severely and expanded the mass incarceration system. One legacy of his “super predator” narrative is teenager Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman (who is now using the courts to enact more violence on Martin’s family by suing them for $100 million.)

There are also many Democrats attacking Medicare for All, the only real chance we have to address the fact that 26,000 people die each year because the private insurance industry would rather make money than allow them to receive care.

Violence comes in many forms. To see the news coverage, whether Fox News or MSNBC, whether covering Bolivia or single payer healthcare, it’s justified. That’s why it’s wise to recall Malcolm X’s words that “if you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

But it’s not enough to have the right ideas, to understand the world through a socialist lens. The point is to change it.

We must harness our collective power to make positive change at a mass scale. Instead of cutting food stamps, government should promote unions and direct worker ownership and provide a complete safety net for those unable to work. Instead of empowering corporations to exploit their workers and patients, we need to take critical services out of the market and invest in the public good. Instead of more prisons, we need more jobs, education and mental health care.

The complete transformation of our society means taking government back from the capitalist class. It means building a powerful movement.

Do your part to build this movement.

  • Fund our national work by giving a generous year-end gift or become a monthly member (both of which will get you a Housing is a Human Right union-printed sticker if you give between December 17th and December 31st.)
  • Apply to a leadership role in one of our national bodies.
  • Pitch a piece for one of our publications, Democratic Left or the Socialist Forum.
  • Become active locally in a local or national campaign or give a year-end gift to your local chapter.

Only you have the power to turn violence into justice.

In solidarity,

Maria Svart
DSA National Director


Join #DSAforBernie’s December Week of Action on December 14-20, 2019! Chapters across the country will be hosting canvasses and debate watch parties to lift up Bernie’s radical Housing for All plan — national rent control, just cause evictions, millions of new affordable housing units, and much more. Members can also sign up to make their first calls through our new digital phone banking program, whether you’re away from your chapter for the holidays or just want to do whatever you can. With the Iowa caucus fast approaching, this is our opportunity to build the excitement and energy we need to elect Bernie and grow our Democratic Socialist movement.


Registration for the 2020 YDSA Winter Conference is now open! Join hundreds of fellow YDSA members in Chicago the weekend of Feb. 14-16, 2020 for organizing training, political education, strategy discussions, and more. We’ll be announcing workshops, plenaries, and speakers in the coming months — all focused on our 2020 theme “Unite, Fight, Win!”

This year’s conference is focused on the urgency and opportunity to organize in this political moment. Young socialists face both incredible threats and incredible opportunities to fight and win. You can find out more about the 2020 YDSA Winter Conference here.

M4A #DontBargainWithOurLives

Help spread the word and participate in our #DontBargainWithOurLives campaign! If you’re a member of a union, the Medicare for All campaign is asking you to shoot a selfie video sharing why you’re fighting for Bernie’s Medicare for All plan. It can be as simple as recording yourself for 30 seconds before work on your phone and uploading to Twitter with the hashtag #DontBargainWithOurLives. We’re going to flood social media on December 9 with these videos, so be sure to sign up to guarantee that we see and retweet your video when the campaign launches!

We’re also planning another Weekend of Action on January 18-19, 2020! In collaboration with the DSA for Bernie campaign, we’re asking DSA chapters to host canvassing events, town halls, or use a variety of other tactics to grow support for Medicare for All and Bernie Sanders’ campaign (see our organizing guide for ideas or check out what chapters did earlier this year for a Weekend of Action in June). Be on the lookout for more information soon, but for now, save the dates!


The National Political Education Committee is springing back into action, and you can apply to join them! The team’s first project will be to work with a pilot group of DSA chapters to improve upon or get their political education programs off the ground. If you have the time to dedicate to the committee, some experience in political education, pedagogy or training, and a burning desire to introduce your comrades nationwide to more and better political education, please apply by Sunday, 12/15. There are nine seats left, and we want to make sure that the people who fill them come from a range of perspectives, geographies and chapter sizes.

You must be able to commit to a one-year term, monthly report-backs, and regular working meetings to join this committee. Interested comrades can find the application form here.

Once the committee is formed, we will open up a process for selecting pilot chapters. If your chapter wants to build a new, or grow an existing, political education program, keep an eye out for that.


The National Electoral Committee evaluates and endorses campaigns that local chapters submit for endorsement, then organizes support for them. They also connect to chapters to learn from what they’re doing and provide training, create resources for chapters, and work with our DSA In Office Network of elected officials. In short, they work to implement our National Electoral Strategy, growing chapters and building a mass movement through strategic electoral work.

If you have electoral experience you’d like to share, or just the time and interest in connecting with chapters to support our electoral work across the country, then consider applying to the NEC. If you know someone who might, please ask them. Work is done remotely, so the role is also great for folks who can’t get involved with their chapter events in person due to schedule, mobility, or any other issues.

You can find a description or the committee’s responsibilities and roles, as well as a link to the application, here. Please note that the application requires references and writing, so do not leave it to the last minute.

Email [email protected] with any questions about the NEC.


Following our DSA convention and October NPC meeting, the Growth and Development Committee was established to oversee areas of membership growth, retention, chapter support, training and more.

If you’re a DSA member who wants to be involved at the national level with a passion for this body of work, we strongly encourage you to apply using this application by December 16th. The strength of this committee is incredibly important as we seek to grow DSA in 2020 and beyond. If you have questions, please email [email protected]!


At our 2017 national convention, DSA voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality which aims to exert nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law. Chapters around the country have engaged in exciting and important BDS and Palestine solidarity work, but we haven’t had a way to connect and collaborate on a national level — until now! We are asking all DSA members who want to get involved in the National BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group to join us. Tell us a little about the work you’ve done or the work you’d like to do by filling out our survey, and stay tuned for exciting updates as our work develops.


Socialist Forum, DSA’s quarterly online journal of socialist theory and practice, is currently seeking submissions for the Winter 2020 issue. The topic is socialist internationalism. If you would like to contribute an article on this theme to Socialist Forum, please use this Google form to submit a short pitch describing your article. If your pitch is accepted, the full article should be roughly 3500-4000 words in length.

For this issue, we are especially interested in bringing international voices into the conversation. In addition to essays, we hope to consider interviews conducted by DSA members with activists in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, and Europe.

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]. Please note that submissions are not officially accepted until after editors review the first draft of a fully article. Pitches must be submitted by 11:59pm on Monday, December 16th in order to be considered.

Socialist Forum editors will blind-review pitches and notify you about the status of your submission by December 27th. If your pitch is chosen, Socialist Forum will expect a full first draft by January 20th, 2020.


Want union-printed DSA swag for winter organizing? Check out the latest DSA swag store items! We have new pull-over or zip-up hoodies, plus we’ve updated our winter hat design. And by popular demand, we’ve added DSA flags too. Get yours today!


In the past month, the NPC has approved the following statements:


And a big welcome to our new chapters and organizing committees! Since the 2019 Convention, new chapters and organizing committees from eleven states have been approved. Shoutout to:

New Chapters

  • Baton Rouge DSA (LA)
  • Doña Ana County DSA (NM)
  • Green Country DSA (OK)
  • Ozarks DSA (MO)

New Organizing Committees

  • South Central Indiana DSA (IN)
  • North Louisiana DSA (LA)
  • Central IL (formerly known as Macon & Logan County)
  • Topeka DSA (KS)
  • Rock River (WI)
  • Fox Cities DSA (WI)
  • Coulee Region DSA (WI)
  • Lakefront DSA (IL)
  • Upper Valley DSA (NH/VT)
  • St. Cloud (MN)