Democratic Socialism

Democratic Socialism – This Q&A is part of Sarah Jaffe’s Interviews for Resistance series, where she talks to organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who are working hard to resist American corporate and political power. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For a group that hasn’t had much brand name recognition in recent years, the Democratic Socialists of America posted a stunning victory in the November election. Given the strength of Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016, the group identified as “Political organizations and activists Not Political Parties” is growing, with many candidates in recent elections. and plans to have a greater presence in the mid-term elections. Sarah Jaffe talks to the group’s deputy director, David Duhalde.

Democratic Socialism

Democratic Socialism

Sarah Jaffe: You were quite successful on election night. Let us know what you think when you start hearing results.

Is This A Good Distinction Between Social Democracy, And Democratic Socialism In Your Opinion?

David Duhalde: To be honest, maybe many of us who were hit hard by 2016 weren’t as optimistic as we should have been. I spoke at a conference for Europeans still living in Belgium. And I was a few hours earlier than that. I thought, “I’m going to sleep. I’ll wake up to see how we are.” I don’t want to wake up and I can’t sleep. Then I woke up to a barrage of texts and Facebook messages: “Oh my God! Lee did it!” referring to Lee Carter in Virginia and “Oh my God! J.T. Scott wins in Massachusetts!” But I held back tears This was the best experience of my life.

DD: I’m going to get uncreative and say Lee Carter’s race in Virginia. This was partly because when I was working in the DSA office in Washington, D.C., I first met Lee at a post-election conference. He spoke and I was very impressed. Then I started volunteering. But when you volunteer Sometimes reading in front of a crowd is difficult. Of course I really hope so. And he employs some great DSA members who are under the age of 23, but he takes on this big role with fighting spirit. I am very worried.

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Although I know we did everything right But you can do everything right and it doesn’t matter Massachusetts Also surprisingly, I actually live in Somerville. And I know this machine well. I remember how hard it was to beat them. and some residents who are disappointed with the new guy A change, even though he is a Democratic stronghold But seeing him accept this position which I know has a stronghold and has been there for 15 years is great. He did it with blood, sweat, and tears, and his victory was incredible. That is very good. This was evident in all of the grassroots campaigns led by the DSA, but we also worked closely with Our Revolution and other partners, especially in the Carter race, such as Planned Parenthood.

SJ: It is interesting that you mention both specifically. Because one of them opposes a Republican official. Others oppose the Democratic Party machine. I would love to hear you talk about that aspect. In some places you fight these right wing people. And in other cases, you’re up against moderate Democrats.

Sander’s Monumental Mistake: Failing To Explain Exactly What A Democratic Socialist Government Is

DD: In the end we supported six candidates nationally – some running against Democrats, like Ginger Jentzen, who was Socialist Alternative, others like Jabari Brisport, who was Green Party They ran against Democrats who were machines only. They were mostly Democrats and ran against candidates like Khader Al-Yateem in Brooklyn and Tristan Rader, who also won in Lakewood, Ohio.

SJ: Let’s go back a bit to thinking and planning this year’s election strategy. You have a meeting Tell us how this strategy came together and what the DSA people think about electoral politics.

DD: That was a very interesting process for us and one that developed a year after Bernie. Sanders announced his intention to run in the first presidential primary. DSA emerged from a movement that wanted to make the Democratic Party a truly social democratic and progressive party. With the growth and success of neoliberalism in the 1990s and Clinton, Bill and Hillary And several times with Barack Obama, it became clear that the idea of ​​changing the Democratic Party was not really in the cards.

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Democratic Socialism

DSA therefore moved away from electoral politics and its core mission and focused on social mobilization work. But Bernie Sanders really mobilized the community, so much so that DSA gave his candidacy enormous energy and support. We started small. Then Khalid Kamau appeared out of nowhere and “Let’s join you” [in the Yoruba African tradition Kamau prefers to spell his name in lowercase letters.] That’s when we started to realize that we could create a national project using a campaign Khalid as a model. We call them episodes. Dozens of chapters and it took him to contact the bank for it. People are excited to work with these amazing members and their fellow socialists. This made us realize that we could really start building socialist electoral power.

Democrats’ Socialism Looks More Like Venezuela Than Scandinavia

DD: We created a three-point criterion to be certified by the DSA: You must run as a socialist. You don’t have to be a member of the DSA, but Ginger Jentzen is not. But you have to be a socialist and agree to talk about it. Although they are not at the forefront of the campaign. It is very important to us that you have the support of your local DSA branch. We don’t want to be a DC or a national group like this that parachutes in and tells people who they’re going to support.

The third thing is that we want people to show us that they have a path to victory. We don’t want someone to say, “I’m 100 percent ready to win,” but we want people to show us that they’ve thought through their winning moves. We want people who will actually travel. Get out into the streets and talk to voters. From here we were able to choose six candidates. Then build a national infrastructure to support them through our foundation. Social media is a huge asset. This is especially true for local races that seek to attract national and international attention and donations. But we also use our network of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of members to conduct telephone transactions and knock on doors.

SJ: How can broader post-Bernie groups and organizations come together during this time? There are several candidates supported by our revolution. Applicants are supported by DSA, and there are other local communities as well. that emerged from that nationwide movement I’m curious how you think these movements fit together. Where is the tension?

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DD: I’ve been surprised at how much of a post-Bernie movement there has been. How well can they work and collaborate to keep this political revolution going? We have a great working relationship with Our Revolution — sharing information and talking about candidates. We also have an affiliate program where a DSA chapter can become a chapter of our local revolutionary Socialist Alternative, one of the other major socialist groups. Working with us on Ginger Jentzen’s campaign, the Brand New Congress took a look at the congressional races, along with the Justice Democrats. It really means, “You help me and I’ll help you.” This makes me very hopeful for 2018

Can The Democratic Socialists Succeed Where Occupy Wall Street Failed?

SJ: I want to finish by talking about 2018 and what’s to come. This will be a parliamentary election. What have you worked on so far?

DD: We haven’t done any accreditation yet. What we are targeting in 2018 is to expand the national network of volunteers who can really work together with local volunteers. One thing I admire about the new DSA is the post Trump election. It is about remaining committed to being flexible and ready to address local conditions. I think that is what will make modern DSA successful. There is no model that can necessarily be applied to everyone. But this gives grassroots groups the freedom to work with people at a national level to do what is really in their best interest. We learned valuable lessons from how the extreme right has created many local candidates.

We are also considering how we can support and hold candidates accountable after the election, for example, and this is a very interesting change to our model. We have a strict policy where we only accredit qualified candidates.

Democratic Socialism

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