Special Post-Election Dispatch

The Democrats won back the House of Representatives Tuesday. But that very night Nancy Pelosi signaled she’s ready to collaborate with Trump, who within 24 hours had a reporter kicked out of the White House and later released a doctored video about the incident.

No one will save us but ourselves.

Not the Supreme Court, even with Justice Ginsburg.

Not the Democratic Party, even with the House.

On many issues, as we know, voters are with us. Most ballot initiatives went our way, including 33 that DSA chapters endorsed and supported. In Idaho, Utah and Nebraska voters chose Medicaid expansion and in Kansas and Maine they elected governors who support it. Florida overwhelmingly passed the felon enfranchisement initiative that our chapters canvassed for with a racial justice frame. And our members and allies were elected all over the country. Many were historic firsts and even where we narrowly lost, we built infrastructure for the future.

Yet the hoped for “blue wave” was strategically neutralized by the Republican’s campaign of fear and systematic voter suppression, just weeks after the Louisville, Pittsburgh and Tallahassee deaths. In a country built on stolen land using slave labor, racism is still the central weapon used by the capitalist class to undermine solidarity among poor and working class people and still permeates our institutions, as demonstrated by the blatant power grabs in Florida and Georgia. Moreover, Trump is taking lessons from the many authoritarians abroad. Where Wall Street Democrats tacked to the center and failed to provide a clear, alternative vision, they often lost.

Now is the moment for you to stay on the offensive. Celebrate our victories, mourn our defeats, and pivot to using any relationships you built in the last few months to organize.

Realize that a one time rally, action, or event just won’t cut it. That’s preaching to the choir, mobilizing the people who already agree with us.

Now is the time to get outside your comfort zone and build our base, then together move to fight the boss, fight the banks and landlords. Wage strategic, disruptive, sustained collective action campaigns against legislative or corporate targets.

Become a long distance runner for socialism.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

— Frederick Douglass

Sí, se puede! Let’s organize!

November National Updates

ONE: Staffing

I’m pleased to announce our newest staffer, Kaitlin. Kaitlin has lived in Arkansas, North Carolina and West Virginia. She was the creator of the original brake light clinic in New Orleans, where she is stepping down from a DSA chapter leadership role to help us #OrganizeTheSouth as a Field Organizer.

And I’m excited to be hiring for a new Organizing Director position! With the rapid growth in size and number of our chapters, we need to deepen our support for helping you power map, develop and run strategic campaigns, and build our base.

TWO: Regional Leadership Training Report

The Pacific Northwest Leadership Training October 27-28 was bittersweet, particularly given the news from Pittsburgh and Brazil. Over 50 chapter leaders from as far as Anchorage, Bellingham, Spokane and Eugene gathered in Tacoma, Washington with hosts South Sound DSA to build our skills and relationships for the struggles ahead.

Hearing about local work, and watching folks learn from each other and trainers, reaffirmed for me that this organization is the place to be as we head into ever dark and stormier times. Being together when we got news of the third domestic terrorist act of the week and worst act of anti-Semitic violence in US history helped us see why we need to strengthen our socialist movement.

Building our analysis of creeping fascism and the neoliberalism and white supremacy that got us here, building our ability to fight back, and building the resiliency of our bonds is exactly how we will build the powerful poor and working class solidarity movement we need in this moment.

THREE: Regional Unity Conferences in February, March and April 2019

If you were in the thick of canvassing and missed the announcement in the October Dispatch, we’re organizing regional pre-convention conferences in the early spring. In convention preparations, we reviewed the feedback from the 2017 convention, when our pre-convention process involved in-chapter meetings as well as a national “un-conference” via video conference online. Members loved the cross chapter discussion, but felt it was too late and rushed. Members also felt the NPC election process and the convention timeline was too opaque.

To respond to this concern, and recognizing that we are now doubled in size from 2017, I and other staff proposed to the National Political Committee (NPC, our nationally elected leadership) Convention Planning Committee that we organize a series of pre-convention regional “unity conferences” next spring. At the October NPC meeting, the NPC voted to accept the proposal.

The goal is to improve on the process by providing earlier and equal access to conversations and information across the entire organization, because there are differences of opinions and perspectives about strategy across the country. We would encourage the broadest member attendance possible (not just chapter leaders) and have small group political discussions to create an even playing field and opportunity for deep participation for all members. In accord with our “big tent” nature, we believe the political prompts should get at the central debates in the organization and be developed by people representing different political tendencies.

Given the state of the country, regional unity conferences will also include trainings to support your local organizing.

FOUR: Let’s get serious about power

Sacramento DSA recently hosted Jane McAlevey, union organizer and author of No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Guilded Age, for a talk about organizing vs mobilizing. Many good lessons that are critical to take to heart in this moment. Check it out!

I look forward to building the fightback with you.

Maria Svart
DSA National Director