There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career. Not anymore.
By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Dr. Taylor is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”
· Dec. 10, 2019
…Adding to that, Mr. Sanders is the top recipient for donations by teachers, farmers, servers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, truckers, nurses and drivers as of September. He claims that his donors’ most common employers are Starbucks, Amazon and Walmart, and the most common profession is teaching. Mr. Sanders is also the leading recipient of donations from Latinos as well as the most popular Democrat among registered Latinos who plan to vote in the Nevada and California primaries. According to Essence magazine, Mr. Sanders is the favorite candidate among black women aged 18 to 34. Only 49 percent of his supporters are white, compared with 71 percent of Warren supporters. Perhaps most surprising, more women under 45 support him than men under 45.
Mr. Sanders’s popularity among these voters may be what alienates him within the political establishment and mainstream media. The leadership of the Democratic Party regularly preaches that moderation and pragmatism can appeal to “centrist” Democrats as well as Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump. It is remarkable that this strategy still has legs after its spectacular failure for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In many respects, Bernie Sanders’s standing in the Democratic Party field is shocking. After all, the United States government spent more than half of the 20th century locked in a Cold War against Soviet Communism. That an open and proud socialist is tied with Ms. Warren for second place in the race speaks to the mounting failures of free market capitalism to produce a decent life for a growing number of people. There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career, but Bernie Sanders may ride that label all the way to the White House.
This essay has been updated to reflect news developments.
From the New York Times
All unhappy social democratic parties are alike: They’ve lost the white working class.
Britain’s Labour Party was decimated in its working-class home last night, when Boris Johnson’s nativist Tories ousted one Labour MP after another in England’s North, once the U.K.’s industrial heartland, today its rust belt. The migration of Britain’s abandoned workers to the anti-immigrant nationalism at the root of Brexit closely tracks the pattern we’ve seen in France, where the longtime proletarian strongholds of the French Communist Party have turned to the insular nationalism of two generations of Le Pens in recent elections. And in the historic home of European social democracy, Germany, the world’s oldest social democratic party is polling close to single digits.
Last night’s election in the U.K. marks the worst performance by Labour since 1935—just as the most recent elections in Germany and France also marked the low points for the Social Democrats and Socialists, respectively. Socialists do govern in Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Sweden (though the Swedish Social Democrats also experienced their worst election in 2018 and govern now in coalition with that nation’s Greens), but these are exceptions to the painful decline of European social democracy.
Four kinds of fragmentation have vexed the parties of the European left over the past 20 years, as they’ve vexed the Democratic Party in the United States as well. The first stems from the growing presence in those parties of urban upper-middle-class professionals, who are often at odds on cultural questions, broadly defined, with the parties’ more traditional and patriarchal working classes. The second is no stranger to the United States but is only now impacting Europe with the diminution (not sudden, but perceived as such) of many nations’ relative racial and religious homogeneity—defections from the left due to racism and nativism. The shift last night of England’s North from Labour to the Tories summoned memories of George Wallace’s surprising successes in Northern states in the Democratic primaries of 1964, heralding the end of the New Deal coalition and the subsequent electoral victories of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The third fragmentation results from geographic divergence—with minorities and the culturally liberal young and professionals clustering in cities with large service sectors, while formerly industrial and rural areas, increasingly poor and elderly, experience both the reality and the sense of abandonment.
Underlying all three of these fragmentations is the de-linking of class interests: As globalization and financialization (the latter particularly pronounced in the U.K. and U.S.) have undermined the egalitarian achievements of the postwar era, parties of the center-left have been stretched ideologically, often to the breaking point. The ’90s saw Britain’s New Labour under Tony Blair, America’s Democrats under Bill Clinton, and Germany’s Social Democrats under Gerhard Schröder all move to globalize and deregulate their economies, to the benefit of those nations’ banking and corporate sectors and the detriment of their working-class voters. The collapse of 2008 and the hugely unequal recovery that followed has led to battles between the center-left and a more militant left in virtually every industrialized nation.
Introduction to Seed the Vote
Jason Negrón-Gonzales, Organizing Upgrade
The Trump era has been all about the naked aggression of the far right, but cracks are appearing. Trump is battling impeachment, a result not only of his criminality but of the changes that the blue wave brought to Congress. Last month we saw further losses for the right in Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania – the result of sustained organizing by hundreds if not thousands. That work didn’t start this year; it’s the culmination of many years of work. None of this was spontaneous. When we organize, we can win. When we step up to fight, we can win.
… The possibility of Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a real one. And it’s one we are determined to stop. When we – a group of left activists rooted in community and labor organizing in the San Francisco Bay Area – gathered this spring, it was with the urgency that came from seeing our communities under relentless assault from a white nationalist, authoritarian administration. But we also knew that 2020 – with the size, energy, and leftward shift among the opposition to Trumpism – would give us an opportunity: if we plan carefully and think big, we can make a difference at the ballot box in 2020, the kind of difference the Left failed to make in 2016. And we thought we could do this while building a stronger and more cohesive Left.
Social justice efforts have been able to activate significant mass actions in opposition to Trump and right-wing policies, from the Women’s March to airport protests to the more recent teacher strikes. Mass mobilization played a particularly important role through 2018, in stalling or rolling back many of Trump’s assaults on communities of color and democratic rights. Alongside the energy in the streets, progressive institutions have gotten renewed energy.
The Democratic establishment makes consistent efforts to squelch progressive electoral insurgencies, for example proposing bans on consultants who work with radicals challenging incumbents in the primaries. And the ‘moderate’ forces use their command of the media to undermine or even smear left candidates and grassroots non-electoral organizations.
**The influence of progressive ideas and the reach of organizations espousing a social justice agenda have grown substantially since 2016, but a realistic assessment of the balance of forces tells us that the progressives remain fragmented in many ways and, even if we were more united, remain weaker and far less resourced than the long-established centrist and corporate forces in the opposition to Trump and, specifically, within the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s Immigrant Rights Working Group organized a very successful webinar on the topic, No One Is Illegal! Capitalism, Imperialism and Borders on November 21. Hundreds of people registered and about eighty participated. We were assisted by the national office of DSA.
For those that missed the webinar live, find the link to the recording here.
We encourage immigrant rights groups and activists to share it and also organize discussions around it. The speakers explained the roots and nature of the attack on immigrants and presented a working class strategy for resistance and liberation.
This webinar is the first of several that we will be organizing. The next one will be a version of this one in Spanish. Please stay tuned for details on that one. We are also going to be putting together a webinar on practical tips and models for immigrant rights organizing.
Many on the first webinar asked for more information from the panelists who joined us. See below for both their bios and publications. Also, to supplement these, we encourage everyone to read, share and discuss the many excellent articles in the DSA’s Fall 2019 Socialist Forum.
Harsha Walia is a community organizer and cofounder of No One Is Illegal. She is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism. She’s based in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
Todd Miller is the author of Empire of Borders, Border Patrol Nation. You can read an interview that summarizes his argument on Jacobin. He writes for NACLA among other publications. He’s based in Tucson, Arizona.
Justin Akers Chacon is the author of No One is Illegal and Radicals in the Barrio. He wrote a recent article on Punto Rojo entitled The Anti-Migrant International. He is an immigrant rights activist in San Diego, California and a co-founder of the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps.
Jorge Mújica is author of Voces Migrantes: Movimiento 10 de Marzo, a member of DSA, an Organizer with Arise Chicago, and a National Council member of the National Writers Union. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.
I'm sending this for our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC). The DSLC includes DSAers active across the labor movement — union members and retirees, workers center activists, journalists, students in labor solidarity groups, DSA Labor Branch members, and more. Help DSA support the rank and file labor movement — join the DSLC today!
The DSLC strengthens our intersectional, worker-led struggle by:
DSA National Director
PS: Nominations for the DSLC Steering Committee Election will be accepted starting 12/9/2019. As soon as nominations open, the form will be available here.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI has made no secret of her desire to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of the year, telling reporters recently that it would be her goal for the House to vote on it before Christmas. Centrist Democrats have been insisting privately that a quick passage for the trade deal is necessary for moderate members of Congress to win their competitive reelections in 2020, to show they can “do something.” Unions have made clear, though, that from their perspective, USMCA lacks real labor enforcement mechanisms, which could undermine the whole deal, further drag down wages, and eliminate more jobs.
Meanwhile, a top priority for labor has been sitting quietly on Pelosi’s desk and, unlike USMCA, already commands enough support to get it over the House finish line. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would be the most comprehensive rewrite of U.S. labor law in decades. It would eliminate right-to-work laws, impose new penalties on employers who retaliate against union organizing, crack down on worker misclassification, and establish new rules so that employers cannot delay negotiating collective bargaining contracts. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., in May, it already has 215 co-sponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate.
Meanwhile. The NYT reports all is going well with Democrats and Nafta. The Democratic Leadership expects some 100 Democrats to vote yes in the House. This is how the original Nafta was passed in 1994. Some 102 Democrats and the remainder Republicans made it a majority.
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.