Talking Points for DSA’s Electoral Work between May and November 2016
The National Political Committee (NPC, DSA’s elected leadership) is providing the following Talking Points, passed by the NPC on May 20, 2016 to enable DSA members to present a coherent description of how the NPC believes DSA members should engage in electoral work at various points between now and the November 2016 election. DSA members are free to disagree with these talking points, but the NPC asks that DSA members articulate these points as the organization’s perspective and then indicate where the individual member disagrees. Finally, these are just preliminary talking points on the elections; the NPC will issue a formal statement on DSA and the elections directly after the National Conventions this summer.
1. Support Bernie through the convention
DSA’s “We Need Bernie” campaign represents a significant democratic socialist contribution to the Sanders movement. DSA is committed to continuing this work through the California and New Jersey primaries and on to the Democratic convention. Bernie winning the nomination would represent a radical transformation of U.S. politics; short of that, his influencing the party platform will give activists demands they can use to pressure whatever administration comes to power. DSA will work diligently to build a more multiracial post-Sanders trend in U.S. politics that fights all forms of racial, gender and class inequality.
2. Organize against a Trump victory
DSA believes that a Donald Trump presidency would represent a victory for the most reactionary nativist, misogynist, Islamophobic and racist forces in the country. A Trump administration would bring immediate harm to many people and would create conditions hostile to organizing for progressives. Therefore, DSA will work with the emerging labor, immigrant, and anti-racist-led “Dump Trump” movement. For this reason, we do not endorse the #BernieOrBust tactic, though we understand the sentiment behind it. Our perspective can best be summarized as: “Dump the Racist Trump: Build the Left from the Grassroots Up.”
3. Criticize Clinton administration if elected; support left-wing candidates
DSA has no illusions about the neoliberal, pro-corporate politics of the Clinton wing of the Democrats and will join the left opposition to a Clinton administration if and when it is elected into office. The best way to begin this task is for DSA locals to work this summer and fall, in a visible and organized fashion, for left-wing candidates both within and, where conditions permit, outside the Democratic Party, who have a multiracial mass base and who embody an anti-racist vision of the Sanders/social democratic trend in U.S. politics.
4. Support Debbie Medina (NY State Senate) and Eric Fink (NC State Senate)
National DSA will concentrate its scarce organizational resources on two electoral campaigns of DSA members for state office. These campaigns exemplify the post-Sanders anti-racist coalition that DSA prioritized building at its October 2015 convention. DSA will work to help DSA member and open democratic socialist Puerto Rican community activist Debbie Medina, running in the Democratic primary for the New York State Senate on an anti-gentrification and democratic public education platform in the 18th district (Bushwick and E. Williamsburg Brooklyn). We also will support long-time DSAer Eric Fink, running as an independent in the 26th State Senate district in North Carolina as the only opposition to State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R), a major proponent of HB 2, the transphobic “bathroom bill.” National DSA encourages other locals to work for candidates, preferably in multiracial districts whose campaigns focus on issues of racial, gender, and economic justice.
DSA recognizes that the specific form of electoral organizing DSAers engage in depends heavily on local conditions. Regardless of what tactical forms such organizing takes, however, DSA is committed to building a stronger organization that can influence the public conversation about socialism, while playing a visible anti-capitalist role within mass, anti-racist progressive coalitions.