The North Star interim steering committee met by Zoom call on November 12, 2018 and resolved to continue building the North Star caucus. As several of our members have pointed out, our political project is just beginning.
During the midterm elections, many leaders and members of North Star dedicated their energies towards campaigning for a better future. Around the country, socialists and other progressives were elected into office at every level of government. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to the United State Congress. Rashida Tlaib became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Marc Elrich was elected to become the chief executive of a jurisdiction with over one million residents. Several of our candidates to state legislatures also won elections or re-election. The broader progressive movement had many more historic victories with both elected officials and ballot measures.
We look forward to getting back to strengthening and growing North Star.
The toxicity in DSA has not dissipated. Electoral engagement is still criticized by some members as a waste of time. There remains a tendency to deny political participation to the broader, less active DSA membership. DSA is currently not doing enough to engage with our natural allies in coalition work or movement building. Political purism continues to distract from socialist organizing, even as some members openly reject the principles and tradition of democratic socialism. North Star exists to challenge these tendencies and make DSA a better organization.
We dismiss the notion that DSA should exist without caucuses.
In an organization of 50,000 members, many if not most new to democratic socialism, the old DSA without caucuses is no longer viable. The organization needs organized factions – caucuses – that put DSAers who think alike and do similar work in touch with each other, allowing members to develop and present their political views and strategies to the organization as a whole. Interaction among such caucuses is the essence of democracy in any large organization. Without public caucuses, cliques will still form underground to deliberate, organize and push their politics. However, the great preponderance of the membership will be left with no access to this decision-making. Insiders ‘in the know’ should not be allowed to make all the important decisions without real accountability in the form of organized dissent.
The idea that DSA can do without caucuses is not all that different from the idea of our country’s founders that the republic could do without political parties. The principle is bound to fail because it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how politics works in large organizations.
What does need to be addressed is how caucuses conduct themselves: do they operate in a factional way, putting the interest of the caucus above the interest of DSA as a whole, and even more importantly, above the interest of the movement as a whole? North Star has never played that game and never will
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.