October 2018: Midterms, Kavanaugh, and DSA on the Move

Socialists on track for good showing in midterms. Kavanaugh’s nomination must be stopped. And news from DSA and socialists around the world.


Since we started The Call a month and a half ago, we’ve been stunned by the response. The site has been visited more than 35,000 times, about 500 people have subscribed to our email list, and our articles have been shared all over the internet (and if you haven’t yet, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see when new articles get posted).

Today, we’re proud to launch the second part of our project: our monthly news bulletins, which will present a socialist perspective on key stories in U.S. politics and economics, plus a summary of news about DSA and the international socialist movement. Our subscribers will receive these bulletins first, so please subscribe here to get this before everyone else.

In solidarity,
The Call editorial team

2018: Business as Usual, With One Exception…

With just a little more than a month to go until the November 6 midterm election, Democrats seem to be on track to win a majority in the House. Their chances in the Senate however are bleaker.

In most respects, the campaign season has been utterly conventional. Democrats are awash in cash from major corporations, liberal millionaires, and affluent professionals. Their congressional campaign committee, the DCCC, is especially guilty — 1 in every 10 dollars it has raised comes from Wall Street and the real estate industry. And the party leadership is doubling down this year on its perennial strategy of ignoring working-class voters in favor of wealthy suburbs and gentrifying urban neighborhoods.

But in another respect, 2018 is just not like the others. Between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and state-level candidates like Julia Salazar, Kristin Seale, and Jovanka Beckles, socialists are proving that campaigning on working-class economic issues, against mass incarceration, and for women’s rights can win, and win big. Democratic socialists are now on track to win one seat in the US Senate and House each, as well as a score of seats in state legislatures and city councils around the country.

Salazar’s recent win shows that insurgent socialist candidates can successfully challenge the Democratic Party leadership, though we have to be prepared for that leadership to fight back. Also in the New York primary, the ultimately unsuccessful but nonetheless important campaign of Cynthia Nixon against Andrew Cuomo provided socialists with a platform to raise statewide demands. And in California, East Bay DSA has brought the heat against Jovanka Beckles’s corporate Democrat opponent with their new site outlining all of the outside money flooding in to protect Obama-endorsed Buffy Wicks.

There are differences of course within this broad movement. NYC Democratic Socialists of America rightly differentiated DSA’s strategy of only supporting socialist insurgents from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to endorse New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. One challenge will be getting DSA-backed candidates, and not just activists, to see themselves as part of a coherent movement, and to support and endorse each other as a matter of course. But we’re excited that we’ve been able to use these electoral interventions to rebuild the socialist movement — and we’ve already got our eyes on the next big challenge: Bernie 2020.


The Senate confirmation hearings have confirmed one thing: Kavanaugh can’t be on the Supreme Court. From the accounts of sexual assault to his record of opposing abortion rights, Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be a major victory for reactionary forces.

The push to nominate Kavanaugh puts the rot of the US ruling class on full display — as Meagan Day aptly put it recently. Just as with Trump, business leaders are more than willing to tolerate cruelty, sexual assault, and attacks on human rights as long as it advances their own material interests.

Democratic socialists stand in solidarity with the ongoing mobilizations against Kavanaugh. In Atlanta, DSA activists projected “Stop Kavanaugh” on a major hotel. West Virginia socialists and rank-and-file teacher activists occupied the office of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to demand he vote no. And in New York City, a coalition including DSA and other feminist and socialist organizations rallied to protest the nomination.

Should Kavanaugh be confirmed, we as democratic socialists should call for his immediate impeachment, especially if Democrats retake the House. Ultimately we have no illusions about the role the Supreme Court plays as an unaccountable “super-legislature” that defends property rights and stymies progress on ending oppression. The country should drop the charade that the court is apolitical, and democratic socialists should wholeheartedly call for a strategy of “packing the court” to delegitimize and undermine it. In the long term, we must abolish lifetime tenure and move to an elected high court. The Supreme Court after all — along with the U.S. Constitution — are relics of the 19th Century.

DSA in the News

The DSA Medicare-for-All campaign launched a new speaking tour through the South and Southwest with Michael Lighty. DSA’s National Director, Maria Svart, gave a long and wide-ranging interview on what it means to be a multi-tendency organization. On that note, we were excited to launch our site last month, representing one among several tendencies within the organization. Our statement of principles is now up. Build, which largely represents the perspective of the 2017 Praxis slate at the DSA national convention, also went public recently. Finally, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus (LSC) — representing a mix of horizontalist and anarchist currents in DSA — announced their platform for the 2019 DSA National Convention (which is a little less than a year away). Our approach to building a democratic and effective organization differs substantially from our comrades in the LSC — you can get our take here.

In Louisville, white supremacists — terrified that socialists are on the march in every part of the country — attacked a DSA social event with pepper spray. The attackers still have not been arrested. The International Socialist Organization responded to The Call’s Where We Stand document with their own views on party building. And Austin DSA activist Glenn Scott, a friend and comrade to many of us, passed away. Her life of union and socialist organizing was honored in The Austin Chronicle. Rest in power, Glenn.

Finally for those who enjoy quizzes, The New York Times recently published a fun and surprisingly decent one to determine if you really are a democratic socialist.

If you have news from your chapter you’d like us to include next month, email us at editor [at] socialistcall [dot] com.

Socialism Around the World

Our comrades in Brazil’s Party for Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) are helping lead mass protests against far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, “the Brazilian Trump.” The first round of elections in Brazil are on October 7.

In Britain, the Labour Party, now firmly led by democratic socialists and Marxists around Jeremy Corbyn and fighting on a bold and left-wing message, held its annual party conference last week. John McDonnell unveiled plans for socializing a part of the national economy and Jeremy Corbyn put forward a new and even more ambitious platform in his conference speech. Our comrades at Jacobin magazine relaunched Tribune, a new socialist magazine for the Corbyn era. And DSA members and leaders built stronger connections with Momentum in the U.K. at a festival organized by the latter group.

In Tunisia, women’s organizations are leading a campaign demanding full legal equality — and laying the groundwork for a new round of popular mobilizations. The Swedish Social Democratic Party had its worst election result in almost one hundred years, while a far right party made substantial gains. The results demonstrate that without a strong and aggressive program for redistribution and social transformation, the Left will lose out to right-wing populists who wrongly blame the ills of inequality on immigrants and the poor. And in China, young leftists have begun to organize and threaten the nation’s conservative and business-friendly Communist Party elite.

The Call is a publication of DSA's Bread & Roses caucus.