We often talk about rebuilding the left. We talk about rebuilding the labor movement so that it can work with the socialist movement and organize militant strikes across industries, as it did in the 1920s and ‘30s. We aspire to build a socialist party, like the one in the 1900s and 1910s that had hundreds of elected officials and ran Eugene Debs for president. We discuss the need to build social movements like the ones in the 1960s and ‘70s that won civil rights and fought against the Vietnam War. However, our generation of socialists must be the last one that rebuilds. We need to build a socialist movement that lasts. Future generations of socialists should be able to directly trace the lineage of their victories to the work we’re doing now. I’m running for co-chair of DSA to build a socialist movement that does not just come out of this current challenging political moment stronger, but exists for generations to come.
Decades Are Happening
Lenin famously said: “There are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen.” Decades are happening right now. The genocide happening in Palestine is one of the defining issues of our time. To stop this genocide, we need to build a multi-racial and worker-led antiwar movement. DSA is one of the few organizations positioned to be at its helm. Our current tactics of engaging in mass direct action and the No Money For Massacre! phonebanks have been effective at winning popular support for this issue and getting members of Congress to sign onto a ceasefire.
However, we must also orient our organizing toward building a long-term movement. Going into the 2024 and 2026 election cycles, it must become clear that elected officials who support genocide not only get primaried by left-wing challengers, but also lose support among working-class people. Taking money from AIPAC and supporting sending aid to Israel must become politically toxic and Congress members should be confronted with their choice to support a war at every turn. Furthermore, it’s essential that we protect DSA-endorsed elected officials like AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and Jabari Brisport, who are being challenged because of their unabashed support for Palestine. This could mean getting on buses to canvass for them, hosting fundraisers, or amplifying their comms. DSA should be the organization that makes it possible for our elected officials to challenge the capitalist class and war hawks by providing the necessary political support for them when they are inevitably retaliated against. Finally, the labor movement has an important part to play in the struggle for Palestine. Union locals across the country have started supporting ceasefire resolutions and DSA’s National Labor Commission has formed a Palestine subcommittee. It’s crucial that we continue to help build militant, antiwar unions through supporting militant labor work across the country.
Building Political Independence
We must plan to break from the Democrats and build an independent party. At our most recent national convention, a supermajority of delegates voted in favor of the “Act Like an Independent Party” amendment to the NEC’s consensus resolution, reaffirming that our organization overwhelmingly wants to move closer to a party-like structure. DSA members sit at nearly all levels of government across the entire country; it’s time we move from a theoretical understanding of building a party to concrete goals to build one.
Political independence is necessary for the longevity of the socialist movement. It’s important we be seen as an explicitly socialist organization that is fighting for the interests of working people. Therefore, it’s crucial for chapters to build Socialists in Office Committees and that we set up an SIO at the federal level. However, we currently lack a clear process or national mentorship structure for chapters that want to build SIOs. This can lead to work being replicated and SIOs being built without the democratic input of the entire chapter. As a former member of the NYC-DSA SIO, I’ve pushed for us to take a strategy oriented toward political independence. Making it easier for local chapters to build SIOs and mentoring chapters who do will be a priority of mine. Additionally, over the last few months, we’ve seen the organizing power of the Squad when they stand together. It is immensely strategic that we build a Federal SIO so that all of DSA’s congressmembers can regularly coordinate on issues related to Gaza and any other pressing issues.
Finally, we have an opportunity to make strides for political independence over the next year. Israel’s war on Palestine has led to the Democrats losing mass support and many people organically pledging not to vote for Joe Biden in 2024. This is an opportunity for DSA to present itself as an alternative to the Democratic Party. This introduces the importance of our national campaigns such as Trans Rights and Bodily Autonomy Campaign (TRBAC). Even though there won’t be a major socialist candidate at the national level this cycle, we can still talk to tens of thousands of working-class people through our campaign work. The TRBAC campaign is something the entire organization can unify around, and local chapters can use it to expand their capacity by developing leaders.
Agitate Around Our Politics
DSA is losing the media battle. Working-class people are bombarded with liberal pundits on CNN and conservative talking heads on Fox News but seldom get the socialist perspective on current events. This allows others to define the socialist position for us, rather than us putting forward our positive vision for society ourselves. Gaining a foothold in American media will be a years-long process, but it is imperative we start now.
As co-chair, I would be a public figure for DSA, someone who can communicate our political positions to the public. This means taking every opportunity I can to critique the Democratic Party and talk about the need for an alternative, encourage people to get rank-and-file union jobs, plug external organizations such as the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee and the Rank-and-File Project, and talk about why we must end the occupation of Palestine. Co-chairs can be present at picket lines across the country, speak directly with our Congressional members and DSA electeds, and ensure that DSA is active in popular social movements. We must constantly remember that our goal is not just to win over fellow DSA members to our positions, but to win over a majority of working-class people. A robust media presence is necessary to reach masses of people
Over the last several years, DSA has grown to be a national political player with the ability to have an impact on events. Electing co-chairs who can help organize an antiwar movement, help us build political independence, and be a spokesperson for socialist politics is necessary for this challenging political moment. However, we must think beyond building around just this political moment, and envision a movement for generations to come. I’m running for DSA co-chair to build a socialist movement for the decades and would be honored to have your support.