On September 14, 2022, the members of Twin Cities DSA voted to pass the following resolution.
Whereas, the right wing is advancing – Key recent examples from the last few months include the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the expansion of gun rights despite increasing mass slaughter, EPA rulings that accelerate climate catastrophe, and revelations of the clear intentions of the January 6th insurrectionists, attacks on trans and LGBTQIA rights. The right wing is well financed and well organized with a clear political program and perspective. It enjoys support from a significant section of the ruling class and the population overall, including parts of the white working class. Their aim is to break human solidarity, divide workers and continue to consolidate power in the hands of the wealthy few. Political polarization and political violence is likely to increase with the 2022 election and beyond. The right knows where their political “true North” is, and they are heading toward it.
Whereas the Democrats are in retreat – In face of the right-wing advance, Democrat, Centrist, and Moderate leaders have retreated and moved to the right. Because their donor base in the 1% fears mobilization of young people, BIPOC and workers, more than anything (including the right), corporate Democrats are trying to direct popular anger away from direct action and into the 2022 election. There is not a serious mass action perspective among the leadership of nonprofits, think tanks, and unions that are closely aligned with the Democratic party. Democrats are politically bankrupt and it is showing.
Whereas, there is no mass left wing, labor or socialist movement – While there are millions of diverse Americans who voted for Bernie or participated in the 2020 uprising, there is presently no mass organization or political party capable of leading these forces. Politically the Democrats are holding in check millions of working class people who are desperately looking for alternatives to the Democrats’ Do Nothing policy. The combination of climate change, right-wing and police violence, severe inflation and broad assaults on democratic rights will force many more millions to seek political alternatives to the Democrats, both to the left and right.
Whereas there are the beginnings of a labor resurgence – While there is no telling exactly how deep or strong the present labor resurgence will be, there is clearly something very different happening in the working class compared to the last 40 years. NLRB filings for union recognition are up over 57% from last year. Those who attended the Labor Notes Conference in June saw firsthand that the posture of workers is no longer defensive. At Amazon, Trader Joe’s, REI, Apple and Starbucks workers are winning union elections and looking at themselves as the ones who will do the organizing. Right now, at this very moment, tens of thousands of Chris Smalls are either going into action or thinking about it, forced by dire circumstances. Much of this future leadership is young and Black or brown. In the 1930s they were called the “men and women from nowhere.” This is where the future of DSA and the working class movement lies.
Whereas, DSA needs to find its political “true North” – The massive DSA membership boom of 2016-2020 is over. Since then, DSA has shrunk. But the prospects for renewed growth are great: the DSA Labor Commission has begun to act more decisively, moving more to the center of DSA. As the largest ever Labor Notes conference showed, DSA members across the country are deeply involved in Amazon, UPS, Starbucks and other worker struggles across the country, including the South. Many of these members are in their 20s or younger. DSA also has important international connections with workers across the globe which will be crucial to the future of the socialist movement and to the future of the world.
Whereas, DSA is uniquely positioned in relation to left resurgence – DSA can, armed with an orientation to working-class struggles, build a multinational, multiracial socialist workers’ organization. DSA is still by far the largest socialist organization in the country and home to thousands of the best socialist activists. DSA has an established infrastructure, democratic norms, and bylaws. It has chapters across the country that can help build a labor resurgence. DSA with a clear political vision can unite fractured social movements and provide a real pole of attraction for the millions who are looking for direction and want to oppose the billionaire class. It’s time for DSA and TCDSA to move into the socialist major leagues. If we can’t achieve this, the future looks very grim.
We need to get a room of our own – This would, first and foremost, give us a place to hold meetings of all sorts and a place to have an organizing office, storage etc. It could also be a place where community organizations could meet, giving us more connections. It puts down a marker of permanence. It says we are here to stay and expand.
We need to clarify our political goals, specifically:
- Labor and the working class – Our eyes must be turned toward the increasing level of class struggle. This means bringing the class struggle into the heart of the chapter, including:
- Getting many more TCDSA members into union jobs or organizing drives. We are not talking primarily about union staff jobs. Everything we do must be from the point of view of deepening our participation in union contract struggles, social struggles that erupt that are deeply connected to unions (like funding for schools), and union-organizing drives. Social struggles like the Green New Deal, abortion rights, and the fight against police violence must be seen through the lens of working-class struggle and not through the lens of nonprofits and “movement” groups.
- Building more viable union working groups. We currently have them in Teamsters, UFCW, Service Industry, Educators and AFSCME. These groups are key to our success, as they provide the most important connection to the working class and allow us to bring more workers into our organization.
- Establishing a strike support fund to help workers who are moving into action.
- Establish international partnerships/sister relationships between TCDSA and other organized labor movements in the global south to buttress a growing global labor struggle.
- Continue using our electoral campaigns to speak to workers through our door-to-door work and recruit them to our campaigns and to DSA.
- Clarifying a broad political program that we expect our endorsed elected officials to build and advance.
- Endorsing candidates who will be accountable to TCDSA, who will meet frequently with leadership and the chapter, who will be building the socialist project and not dragging us toward the left wing of the DFL.
- Working toward developing, training and running candidates from within TCDSA. Establishing a goal of electing a socialist majority to the Minneapolis City Council in 2023. St. Paul will hold elections in 2025. We can expand beyond the one Council member we currently have. We can also expand beyond the four DSAers at the state level. Establishing a political fund that our electeds and others contribute to.
- Fundraising – For the next year, we will have 3 buckets of fundraising. The most immediate priority will be raising sufficient funds for a DSA office/meeting hall. Our political fund and solidarity fund will be of equal priority. This will take real leadership attention and a well organized effort.
- Reaching outward – We will need a powerful and well organized social media presence with a dedicated team to reach out to the thousands who are looking for a way to defeat fascism, stop climate change, support workers struggles, support abortion rights and fight racism in all its forms. They will be responsible for regular posts across all platforms each week that reflect our priorities. The team will analyze response rates and all pertinent metrics in order to meet democratically established goals. The internal newsletter team will need to be strengthened as well so we can communicate with our members on a very regular basis and draw them into action. We should strengthen our tabling and events team whose job it will be to identify events we want to table and/or leaflet at, filling tabling shifts, and organizing logistics. We should form a working group that meets once a month and is dedicated to the organizing of mutual aid and community defense efforts to build bridges and partnerships in the local community and offer more avenues for connecting with our chapter.
- Recruiting and retention –We can expect that, with increasing political struggle and improved communications and outreach, more people will be heading our way. This will require us to be more intentional about regular follow up and implementing a buddy system to help retain recruits to DSA. One thing we lack right now is internal infrastructure (similar to a union steward system) that can support retention of and communication with members.
- The impact we can have on DSA nationally – If we are successful in implementing what is outlined above, we can have a significant impact on DSA nationally by providing a template for success. There are other chapters in the U.S. that are grappling with the same set of questions we are. Seattle and Portland are prime examples of chapters that seem to be coming up with solutions to DSA’s search for direction. We should work closely with them and other chapters to compare notes and bring forward innovative solutions.