The universal healthcare bill (SB 562) is now in Sacramento. Join Maureen Cruise from Health Care for All – Los Angeles for a presentation on the bill – how can we help the fight to push the bill through. We need universal healthcare and we can all contribute to making universal coverage a reality.
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
2617 Hauser Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90016
CWA may strike AT&T TODAY (Friday, May 19) and our support teamwork needs to be poised to jump in. Wear Red on Friday and try to join a picket line (below) if there’s no settlement. Sam Nelson provides the place to go for the latest information
The DC Central Labor Council newsletter Union City Friday morning quotes CWA Local 2336 President Terry Richardson. "CWA will call a 3-day strike against AT&T Mobility (wireless) today at 3pm, if the company has not come to the table with a fair proposal by then."
Metro DC DSA can help on the picket lines.
Union City lists these DMV-wide locations:
DC-area CWA AT&T strike targets:
Chevy Chase: 5301 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. Washington DC 20015, Mon.-Sat. 10am-7pm, Sun. 11am-6pm
Washington Square: 1050 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Washington DC 20036, Mon.-Fri. 9am-7pm, Sat. 10am-6pm
Dupont Circle: 1518 Connecticut Ave N.W. Washington DC 20036, Mon.-Sat. 9am-7pm, Sun. 11am-5pm
Chinatown: 785 7th Street N.W. Washington DC 20001, Mon.-Fri. 10am-8pm, Sat. 10am-7pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm
F St.: 1201 F Street N.W. Washington DC 20004, Mon. 9am-7pm, Sat. 10am-6pm
Cricket: 2849 Alabama Ave. S.E. Washington DC 20020, Mon.-Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm
And we’re also hearing from the CWA site that 1100 S. Hayes St. in Arlington will be a picket location.
From DSA National Political Director Maria Svart (Thursday, May 18):
We are supporting our friends at the Communication Workers of America. Tens of thousands of their members at AT&T have been working without a contract for months. If AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson doesn't settle by 3pm ET tomorrow, [Today, Friday May 19] they're going on strike. Since yesterday, DirecTV workers have joined the strike endorsement as well.
This may be the biggest strike of retail workers at a national company in U.S. history. CWA has reached out to DSA members for help. We're talking about 40,000 workers in 36 states standing up for their jobs — and their dignity. Will you join striking workers at a picket line at a nearby retail store, either this Friday, Saturday or Sunday? Click here to find a location near you and RSVP. And you can print out downloadable signs here and here.
DSA's national Steering Committee fully supports the CWA workers, and our chapters are already signing up to support picket lines. This isn’t just about AT&T, which is the 10th largest company in the country and made $13 billion in profits last year. We have to take a stand to say working people can’t be used and abused while companies make billions off our backs.
Wireless workers at AT&T have seen their salaries eroded year after year, while their benefits get more and more expensive. It’s getting almost impossible to make ends meet working at AT&T Mobility. If workers do strike on Friday, they will be striking to protect their jobs (which are being outsourced left and right), preserve affordable health care, and stop their wages from stagnating.
This fight is bigger than AT&T, this is about working people standing up to corporate power for good jobs and a better future. I hope you’ll join AT&T workers on the picket line this weekend.
Maria Svart, DSA National Director
New DCDSA Steering Committee Elects Officers
Comrades -- Thank you to everyone who voted in the recent elections for the steering committee for Metro DC DSA. We were thrilled to see the record level of turnout and interest that members showed during the elections. It's an honor to be selected to represent the members of the chapter and everyone elected to steering is already working hard to ensure the continued success of the Metro DC Chapter. To that end, the steering committee has held our first meeting and selected officers for the next year:
- Chair - Margaret McLaughlin
- Vice Chair - José Gutiérrez
- Treasurer - Ariana Ascherl
- Secretary- Zack Maril
The Metro DC DSA Steering Committee
DCDSA MEETINGS COMING UP THIS WEEK –
Start with a really busy weekend and build in some possible picket-line time.
Note: most of these entries have Meetup links for the latest information.
Saturday, May 20 Economic Justice Committee meets, 2 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW (Closest Metro stop is Columbia Heights). On the agenda:
Introductions (10 minutes)
Updates by working groups: (30 minutes) (6 minutes each)
- Healthcare Working Group's Town Hall, effort to protest passage of AHCA: Aaron M.
- Housing Justice Working Group: Tenant's Rights Training and Canvassing on 5/21 and all summer: Adam M.
- Transportation Working Group: Update on American's for Transit Campaign: Brian W.
- Wages Working Group: ROC's One Fair Wage campaign update: Austin K.
- General Announcements and Solidarity Asks
--Organizing Sub-Committee Elections (10 minutes)
--Introduction on Reform Proposal, discussion and straw poll: Brian W. (20 minutes)
--Know Your Rights 101: Tentative. (20 minutes)
We want to let you all know that our next committee meeting is this Sunday the 21st at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library (3260 R Street Northwest, Washington, DC) from 1-3PM (notice the time change!). We'll be meeting at the GEO Meeting Room. Please factor Georgetown's transportation inconvenience into your travel arrangements (we'll have a better location for next time, folks!).
This meeting is a really important to make because after hearing from two speakers from the DCReInvests coalition in the first hour, we'll be discussing our committee's future direction and projects. We have several prospective projects lined up for discussion and look forward to seeing and hearing from everyone! “
Sunday, May 21 Tenants Know-Your-Rights Training & Canvassing 12:30 p.m. at WeWork Wonderbread at 641 S Street NW.
Please join DC DSA's Racial Justice Committee Sunday, May 21st to learn how to canvass for tenants' rights! Many renters in DC who are facing eviction do not have... Learn more Hosted by: Margaret McLaughlin (Co-Organizer)
Sunday, May 21 Metro DC DSA Communications Committee Meeting 1:00 p.m. Mt. Pleasant Library 3160 16th St NW, Washington, DC (map) The Communications Committee works with our newsletter, weekly updates, social media, website layout and content and internal and external outreach in general. Skills welcome! Learn more
Sunday, May 21 Socialist Feminism Reading Group 🌹 4:00 p.m. at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, Washington, DC. 8th and F Streets, NW Washington, D.C., Washington, DC (map)
Join us as we explore and discuss topics within Socialist Feminism 🌹 For reference: Past selections were from Women: Class and the Feminist Imagination (available here: h... Learn more Hosted by: Lynne Williamson (Co-Organizer), and Ariana Ascherl
Tuesday, May 23 Socialist Feminism Committee Meeting 6:30 p.m. Institute for Policy Studies 1301 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC (map)
Join us as we plan DC DSA Grrrl's Night, action on CPC's in DC, Socialist Feminism Reading Group, and ongoing research on baby boxes. Learn more Hosted by: Ariana Ascherl
Wednesday May 24 Socialist International Discussion & Vote 6:30 p.m. Institute for Policy Studies 1301 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC (map) Please join us in a discussion on DSA's decision to remain in or leave the Socialist International. Chip Gibbons and Jack Clark will be presenting cases for each side,... Learn more Hosted by: Margaret McLaughlin (Co-Organizer)
AND THE REST OF MAY and onward
Sunday, May 28 Intro to DSA: Socialism 101 1:30 p.m. Petworth Neighborhood Library 4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC (map) Are you new to our group and wondering just what the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is all about? On Sunday, May 28, we'll host an intro session for anyone... Learn more Hosted by: Jessie (Co-Organizer)
Tuesday, May 30 -- The next Education Committee Meeting is May 30th at 6:30 p.m., location TBD.
Wednesday, May 31 – Busboys book talk on the struggle of Syriza, the Greek left party, in the EU austerity regime. 6:30 p.m., with Metro DCDSA as a co-sponsor. The rise and fall of Syriza has important lessons for the left everywhere. Please join a discussion with Helena Sheehan, author of THE SYRIZA WAVE Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left -- INTRODUCTION BY Medea Benjamin Co-Founder of CODEPINK at Busboys and Poets -- 2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC. The event is sponsored by Busboys and Poets and co-sponsored by CODEPINK, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Jacobin, and Metro DC DSA.
Wednesday, May 31 DSA Happy Hour 6:30 p.m. -- The Big Hunt 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC (map) Join us as we relax and enjoy some brews with our brothers and sisters of DC DSA. No agenda, no schedule, no topic, just some good conversation and beer. Learn more This Meetup typically repeats on the last Wednesday of every month
Saturday, June 3 The next Racial Justice Committee meeting is Saturday, June 3rd at 1:30pm, location TBD
Sunday, June 4 Socialist Book Group Discussion 3:00 p.m. National Portrait Gallery Kogod Courtyard 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC (map) Join us for a discussion of On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman "Alice Goffman's On the Run is the best treatment I know of the wretched... Learn more Hosted by: Jessie (Co-Organizer), and Lynne Williamson (Co-Organizer)
Saturday, June 10 DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10:00 a.m. Connecticut Ave & Dupont Circle 19th Street Northwest, Washington, DC (map) Note that this event is waitlisted. Join longtime DC DSA member Bill Mosley for a three-hour tour of the District’s little-known places of radical... Learn more Hosted by: Jose A Gutierrez (Co-Chair)
For more info on allied events consult the invaluable Peace Center Activist Alert Calendar http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts
Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America | Email us
Our mailing address is:
1301 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
Tuesday, May 23
Common Good Cafe
(Downstairs at the University Temple United Methodist Church)
1415 NE 43rd St.
Seattle, WA 98105
Sponsored by NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC and the Seattle International Socialist Organization
• Stop her and all deportations and detentions!
• Don’t separate families!
• Meet the hunger strikers’ demands!
• Tear down the border wall!
• End the Muslim travel ban!
• No human being is illegal!
For years, Cynthia Vanessa Iraheta López has fought to remain in the U.S. On May 11, she was told to report to BI Incorporated, a private contractor for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to be deported to Honduras. She would have been separated from her 3-year and 9-year old daughters. Due to a protest organized by Northwest Detention Center Resistance, DHS backed down temporarily. While a judge reviews a stay of deportation presented by her lawyer, Cynthia must wear an ankle bracelet at all times. We call on the community to stand against family separation because it’s cruel and unusual punishment!
• Cynthia Vanessa Iraheta Lopez
• Maru Mora Villalpando, Northwest Detention Center Resistance
• Darrin Hoop, International Socialist Organization and Social Equality Educators
• Family member of a hunger striker at the Northwest Detention Center
Volunteer childcare will be available.
Traducción al español está disponible.
If you would like to help with Cynthia’s legal fees, please donate at: https://www.youcaring.com/cynthiavanessairahetalopez-818833.
Tuesday, May 16
Common Good Cafe
(Downstairs at the University Temple United Methodist Church)
1415 NE 43rd St.
Seattle, WA 98105
This week’s meeting will be a working meeting. We’ll be discussing the May issue of Socialist Worker newspaper and also our work with Seattle Clinic Defense. We’ll also devote some time to breakouts into working groups to plan various aspects of our local work.
Hulu’s new series based on the Margaret Atwood book The Handmaid’s Tale is a timely exploration of sexism and oppression, old and new, writes Leela Yellesetty.May 11, 2017
“I UNDERSTAND that they feel like that is their body…I feel like it is a separate–what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.'”
So said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Justin Humphrey earlier this year, explaining why he sponsored a bill that would require women to obtain written permission from their sexual partner in order to get an abortion.
Is it any wonder that the new Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale–in which the titular handmaids are literally reduced to hosts–seems so eerily relevant at this political moment?
While we don’t live in a theocratic dictatorship like the imagined near-future society of Gilead depicted in the book and show, the echoes in today’s society are too striking to overlook–from the endless restrictions on abortion rights; to Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to dine with a woman who is not his wife; to the recent convening of yet another all-male panel in the Senate to determine, among other things, whether surviving sexual assault should be considered a “pre-existing condition”; among any number of other examples.
A few recent articles detailed some of the contemporary laws that have direct analogies in the Handmaid’s Tale–extending beyond restricting women’s rights to the treatment of refugees, extrajudicial killings and the use of Islamophobia to justify suspension of constitutional rights.
The massive Women’s Marches which greeted Trump’s inauguration in January featured signs reading “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again,”–and, in Texas, activists dressed as handmaids to protest abortion restrictions.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
EVEN BEFORE the series premiered last month–it was in the works well before Trump took office–the novel had shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list, and waitlists for the title have swelled at libraries across the country.
Given all this hype, I’m glad to report that so far, the new series does not disappoint. The production is masterful, the visual effect striking, the acting superb–and it’s completely and utterly terrifying.
I don’t normally give trigger warnings, but this is not easy viewing, and although it’s set in a fictional world, the horrors depicted are all too believable. Compared to the book, where much is left up to the imagination, the television medium adds a visceral realness that can be difficult to watch.
That isn’t to say it’s overly gruesome or filled with gratuitous violence played for titillation. To the contrary, the violence is chillingly calculated and inflicted emotionally just as much as physically, which makes it all the worse, especially as seen from the perspective of its victims.
Yet it’s worth suffering through, because this is not simply a story of despair and unremitting cruelty, but of human resilience and resistance in the face of it, which we begin to see really taking shape in the most recent episodes.
Other reviewers can better unpack the aesthetics of the show. In the rest of this review–with minimal spoilers–I want to give a bit of political context to the themes explored in the original novel and why they remain resonant to this day.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
WHEN MARGARET Atwood wrote the Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, she set rules for herself, explaining in the New York Times:
I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the “nightmare” of history, nor any technology not already available. No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities. God is in the details, they say. So is the Devil.
Some of Atwood’s reference points included the puritanical society of colonial New England, the location where the book is set; the Stalinist regime of East Germany across the wall from where she wrote her book in Berlin; the Romanian government’s ban on birth control and abortion in response to falling birth rates in 1966; and the Islamic Republic of Iran that upended a previously secular society following the 1979 Revolution.
The most immediate context, however, was America in the 1980s, a time when the Christian Right was on the rise amid an overall conservative backlash against the radicalism of previous decades.
In many ways, it was a warning that progress wasn’t inevitable and that gains made could be rolled back–sometimes quite rapidly–especially in the face of complacency of those who had the most to lose. “Nothing changes instantaneously,” observes the main character Offred. “In a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
One of the most interesting themes Atwood explores is the role of women in enforcing the subjugation of other women. The character of Serena Joy is a not-so-subtle reference to prominent anti-feminist personalities of the time like Mary Pride and Phyllis Schlafly. Like these women, Serena enjoyed a professional career arguing that women ought to remain in the home–only to fall victim to the success of her own cause.
Indeed, the Christian Right and anti-feminist forces have often justified their stands on the basis that they’re actually good for women. Feminism had burdened women with too many choices, and subjected them to rape and violence, they argue.
“There is more than one kind of freedom,” says Aunt Lydia, one of the fanatical “Aunts” in charge of training the handmaids. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from.”
Of course, this didn’t preclude freedom from enforced rape by the Commanders–to whom the handmaids were bequeathed in order to bear their children. And in the society of the 1980s, this also didn’t mean freedom from “pro-life” forces bombing abortion clinics and harassing women and doctors.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
THE DRACONIAN society depicted in the novel, like the policies restricting reproductive rights today, are not, in fact, good for women. Nonetheless, it’s worth trying to understand why such ideas can hold appeal, including among women.
As Moira Weigel notes in the New Yorker, the rise of the Christian Right has to be understood in the context of the Reagan revolution and the neoliberal project to drive down working-class living standards in the pursuit of profit:
Liberals have often viewed the alliance of the Religious Right and Republican big business that empowered Reagan as a matter of misunderstanding, or a cynical manipulation of poor and middle-class whites by wealthy elites. Yet the Reagan years made clear that traditional gender roles are not just some arbitrary cultural preference. They are a means of insuring that the necessary work that capitalist power does not want the state to pay for continues to get done. Reagan Republicans called for a restoration of “family values” while also seeking to dismantle public programs–from health care and child care to good public schools and universities–that support childbearing and child-rearing; in the absence of such policies, families, and women in particular, are left to pick up the slack.
Feminist scholars like Stephanie Coontz have observed similar dynamics today as helping to explain the appeal of Trump for some women despite his sexism:
Women with less economic or personal autonomy are often drawn to a culture of family values that emphasizes men’s responsibility to look after women….I think it’s a big factor in the debates over contraception and sexuality and abortion. The flip side of women having all these freedoms from male control, they believe, is that it actually threatens women’s entitlement to male protection.
In other words, while the capitalist class isn’t necessarily in favor of instituting theocratic rule–and indeed, their profits depend on the now widespread presence of women in the labor force–they find the ideology of “family values” beneficial as a means of keeping down the costs of reproducing labor, and using sexism and scapegoating more generally as a means of divide and rule.
The fact that they have leaned so heavily on these tactics may ultimately be to their own detriment, as witnessed by the election of Trump and more ominously the growth of the far right in the U.S. and internationally (though it’s worth saying that I don’t think a Gillead-style takeover on the immediate horizon, and that in formulating strategy, we need to understand the differences between these forces).
Throughout history and again today, sexist reaction usually goes hand in hand with racism–indeed the hysteria around falling birth rates is usually explicitly surrounding falling white birth rates. In the novel, this was also the case, with reference to the fact that the “children of Ham” were being rounded up into concentration camps in cities like Detroit and Chicago.
The television series, however, departs on this count, instead envisioning a curiously “post-racial” dystopia. While this certainly makes for a more diverse cast–including the ever-brilliant Samira Wiley–as a speculative near-future in a society so deeply racist as ours, it feels less plausible.
This isn’t the only way in which the series departs from the novel–which I highly recommend reading (or rereading) along with watching the show, as both have different strengths.
Given that it was just renewed for a second season, at some point, The Handmaid’s Tale will move beyond the book entirely. It will be interesting to see what new developments take place in Gilead. But just as importantly, it can help us reflect on the harsh realities of our own society–and inspire us to plot our own resistance.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
Bernie Sanders’ decision to support an anti-choice Democrat reveals a deeper problem with a party that routinely gives ground on abortion rights, writes Leela Yellesetty.April 26, 2017
BERNIE SANDERS drew fire from abortion rights supporters last week when, as part of the Democratic National Committee’s “Unity Tour,” the Vermont senator made a stop to campaign for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello.
Mello made a name for himself as an opponent of abortion rights in the Nebraska state legislature, co-sponsoring a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and another that would force doctors to offer patients an ultrasound before having an abortion. He also voted for a bill prohibiting insurance companies from covering abortions.
After the ultrasound bill passed the legislature, Mello told the Associated Press it was a “positive first step to reducing the number of abortions in Nebraska.” For his efforts he received the endorsement of anti-choice group Nebraska Right to Life in 2010.
In a response blasting Sanders’ decision to campaign for this anti-choice politician, Ilyse Hogue of NARAL Pro-Choice America wrote:
The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women–one of the most critical constituencies for the party–of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid. Today’s action make this so-called “fight back tour” look more like a throwback tour for women and our rights.
If Democrats think the path forward following the 2016 election is to support candidates who substitute their own judgment and ideology for that of their female constituents, they have learned all the wrong lessons and are bound to lose. It’s not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children.
Yet Sanders is standing by his decision, arguing that Mello has pledged not to attack women’s right to choose as mayor–a claim which warrants skepticism, given his record–but more to the point, that progressives should be willing to embrace anti-choice Democrats in the name of building political power.
“If we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose, at the end of the day we’re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation,” Sanders told NPR. “And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
SETTING ASIDE the weird logic of electing anti-choice politicians as a strategy for protecting choice, apparently for Sanders, it really is this “one issue” that is worth overlooking. He had no problem refusing to stump for Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff for being insufficiently progressive on economic issues.
Picking up on this contradiction, the New York Times describes the terms of the debate as follows:
But the ferocity of the dispute this time reveals a much deeper debate on the left: Should a commitment to economic justice be the party’s central and dominant appeal, or do candidates also have to display fealty to the Democrats’ cultural catechism?
This has been a familiar refrain since the 2016 primaries, where economic populism, in the form of Bernie Sanders, was counterposed to championing the rights of women and minorities, as was purportedly Hillary Clinton’s platform. Yet this is a fundamentally flawed starting point for understanding this debate, as it rests on a number of false assumptions.
First and foremost, of course, is the idea that abortion is not an economic issue. As Cosmopolitan magazine–of all places–argued compellingly:
Tolerating Democratic hedging on abortion to justify appeals to the working class is also nonsensical. For women who are pregnant, abortion isn’t a “social issue”; it’s very much an economic one. Most women who have abortions say they chose that route either because of their economic realities or in planning for their economic futures: They can’t afford a child (or, more often than not, they’re already mothers who can’t afford another child), or they see that their future plans would be irreparably derailed by having a baby just then. “You know what saved me from hereditary poverty?” wrote abortion rights activist Michelle Kinsey Bruns on Twitter, “Abortion. Abortion did. Real sorry if I’m caring about economic justice wrong.”
This past weekend, activists around the country participated in fundraisers across the country for the National Network of Abortion Funds, which provides grants to low-income women seeking abortion. The average cost of a first-trimester abortion ranges from $300 to $1,500.
Thanks to the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal Medicaid funds from being used to pay for abortions, and numerous state laws and insurance restrictions, more than half of patients pay out of pocket for the procedure each year, according to the Guttamacher Institute.
Considering that the majority of Americans cannot afford an unexpected expense of $500, much less the expense of an unplanned pregnancy, not to mention raising a child, abortion access is a vital economic concern–to millions of women, but also in many cases their male partners and children.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
ANOTHER CENTRAL fallacy of Sanders’ contention is that abortion is a divisive “wedge” issue that is costing Democrats votes. In fact, as a new campaign makes clear, abortion access is “More Popular than Trump,” with 70 percent of Americans agreeing that women should have access to safe, legal abortion, while only 33 percent approve of Trump.
While the anti-choice movement has eroded support for unrestricted abortion rights over the past decades, these polls show that it is hardly the political third rail it is made out to be–perhaps due to the fact that, despite growing restrictions, one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
Attacking women who have abortions was an effective way for Trump to rally his right-wing base. He, too, paired this with a supposedly “economic populist” campaign that turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors.
In fact, the attacks on abortion rights have long been part and parcel of a ruling-class campaign to roll back not only women’s rights, but working class living standards. Indeed, the Christian Right’s claims about the “sanctity” of life doesn’t stop it from demonizing women who give birth out of wedlock, which helped provide the rationale for Clinton’s dismantling of welfare.
The right has long used scapegoating of oppressed groups–immigrants, African Americans, women, LGBT communities and others–to divert attention from and justify policies that are disastrous for the vast majority of working people. This is precisely why the left must actively combat these attacks if we have any chance of building real unity in the fight for economic justice.
Despite popular caricatures, the working class in this country doesn’t consist of only white men, but has always been–and is increasingly–multiracial and majority female. There is a reason that a majority of young women voters were enthusiastic about Sanders’ demands for economic justice over Clinton’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, though I would guess they are somewhat less enthused by his latest maneuvers.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
DUE TO the backlash, some DNC members are now distancing themselves from Sanders’ position–in particular, aiming their fire at his refusal to back Ossoff while ducking altogether the question of whether or not Ossoff is, in fact, “progressive” and worthy of support in the first place.
But for Democratic Party leaders, this is a very difficult critique to make without drawing attention to their own hypocrisy on the question. Far from an “economic populist” invention of Sanders, the idea of sidelining women’s rights in the name of political expediency has been the longstanding practice of the Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton, after all, once stated that she thought abortion was “a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,” and popularized the idea that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare” as a means of campaigning for Bill Clinton and courting the anti-choice vote in her run for Senate. Recently, top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dick Durbin spoke out in support of Sanders’ embrace of anti-choice Democrats in the name of party unity.
Rebecca Traister spelled out why the Democrats have clung to this approach for so long in an article for New York Magazine:
Women have heard this argument again and again, and we have remained the reliable base of a party that has elected and elevated to positions of greater power anti-choice Democrats including Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine and Bob Casey.
In fact, it’s hard not to feel that it’s because of the dedication of women, and particularly women of color, to the Democratic Party–where else are they going to go?–that party leaders feel freer to take them for granted and trade their fundamental rights in obsessive pursuit of the great white male. This is how Dems always imagine that they can make inroads in red states. It’s third-way centrist bullshit.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
THIS TIME around, however, the Democrats may not find this approach so easy. Trump’s inauguration was greeted by the single largest day of protest in U.S. history under the banner of a “Women’s March.”
A new generation of activists is making the connections between economic and reproductive justice, in the process coming to reject the “lean-in” feminism of the likes of Hillary Clinton, which focuses on more gender representation at the top of an economic system in which working-class women (and especially women of color) suffer disproportionately.
In addition, more and more abortion rights activists are challenging the failed strategy of focusing efforts on electing nominally pro-choice politicians into office while refusing to confront the anti-choice forces that have successfully chipped away at abortion access for decades and continue to harass women outside of clinics every day.
Recent months have seen the growth of clinic defense actions across the country aimed at both demoralizing the bigots and reframing the abortion debate away from the lives of fetuses to those of women.
It’s a welcome sign that groups like NARAL have taken politicians like Sanders to task, but Hogue’s statement still expresses a commitment to working within the Democratic Party.
In reality, it has been the activism outside traditional political channels that has made the biggest difference. As long as most mainstream pro-choice organizations pursued a narrow strategy of uncritically backing Democratic candidates, the party was free to take their support for granted, while steadily giving up ground to the right.
If we are to be successful in turning back the anti-choice tide, we need to build a movement that is independent of a party which has proven time and again that it is not on our side–and instead put our faith in our own collective action to shift the terms of the debate and hold politicians of both parties accountable. As an activist quoted in Traister’s article put it:
It is incredibly important that people within the progressive movement and Democratic Party realize that women are sick of this” stuff, said Erin Matson, a Virginia-based abortion rights activist, “and we’re not going to take it anymore.” (She used a more pungent word than “stuff.”) “What Bernie doesn’t seem to realize,” she added, “is that the abortion rights movement has really bucked up and gotten some tough ovaries in the last couple of years.”
Steering Committee Election Results:
The following seven members were elected to the 2017-18 Metro DC DSA Steering Committee by 130 members who cast ballots at our May 7 general membership meeting..
- Austin Kendall
- Jacquelyn Smith
- Jessie Mannisto
- José Gutiérrez
- Margaret McLaughlin
- Merrill Miller
- Zack Maril
Feature Article: The climate march, DSA’s climate panel and the aftermath
Metro DC DSA and visiting national DSA members marched in the April 29 People’s Climate March. The evening before, Metro DC DSA mounted an authoritative panel of discussants on how a radical climate agenda can be forwarded. Andy Feeney recounts both events.
Three Maryland counties are moving the needle on public funding of elections.
This week, activists in Prince George’s County testified at a County Council public hearing on the 2018 budget, demanding the inclusion of significant funding for a public finance pilot program. Progressive Maryland and Our Revolution members collaborated on the demand, which also included a future legislative measure, Small Donor Funded Election System plan, to help get big money out of the county’s sclerotic electoral process. The looming inclusion of two at-large Council seats in the 2018 election – which would raise the stakes and the cost because of countywide campaign needs – sharpened the need. Montgomery County already has a similar public financing system but the County Executive is under the gun for underfunding it and Progressive Maryland activists are pushing the Council to fund it fully. Howard County councilmembers will vote soon to finalize and fund a measure that was passed by referendum in November, with activists pushing them on. A statewide public funding bill debuted in Annapolis this legislative session but failed to get across the finish line.
-- Woody Woodruff
Metro DC DSA had fast response to ACHA passage in House
When the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act on May 4th, Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America sprang to action, quickly organizing a protest outside of the Capitol for that day at 5 o'clock. About thirty persons gathered by the east side steps, led by Democratic Socialist organizers in chants, "U.S. healthcare is a lie, they don't care if people die" and the calls "when healthcare is under attack", "when reproductive rights are under attack", with response, "stand up, fight back." Capitol police required the protesters to move to the grassy area in front of the House's side of the Capitol. Yet that only brought the protesters closer to a group that had queued to enter the House, ostensibly to celebrate the vote. The signs declaring, "Medicine for profit is a crime against humanity", and the spirited chants of "Medicare for all", caused the entry of the celebrators to be expedited.
Because an unorganized socialist is a contradiction in terms, Brian Wivell called for a meeting on the spot to plan next steps, allowing interested DSA members to get involved with the "Medicare for All" town hall working group, and a working group, formed on the spot, to organize responses to the progression of the AHCA. Get involved, contact Aaron Marks at Thorapm@gmail.com for the town hall working group, and Harry Baker at John.Harding.Baker@gmail.com for the anti-AHCA working group.
Day-Long Candidate Pipeline Workshop in MoCo
While our local was electing a new steering committee last Sunday, a day-long activist workshop for developing alternative candidate pipelines in Maryland was underway in Silver Spring. For Maryland comrades who wondered what they missed, MoCo progressive activist and regular Progressive Maryland blogger Hal Ginsberg provided this rundown.
Metro DC DSA rep reports on opportunities to work with SURJ
I had a great meeting with a representative from SURJ's Education Team, and I would like to give you all a few updates on upcoming opportunities to work with SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) in the near future.
Recently, in response to criticism, SURJ underwent a major reorganization to promote accountability within the organization. Part of this change is that the Facilitation Team, of which I was a member, has, along with several other teams, been combined into a new Education Team. This new structure is intended to make SURJ more effective and more accountable in its actions.
SURJ will be doing Deep Canvassing this summer, with date(s) in June TBD. Participants in this action will go out to rural neighborhoods in Northern Virginia and go door to door talking about Racial Justice issues. SURJ provides a quick training course for everyone who attends these, so all you need to do is bring yourself! I'll make sure to provide further information to the group as I learn more.
There is also a second round of Reading Groups starting in July. These are small group sessions that introduce members to the meaning of structural racism and its role in maintaining and exacerbating inequality in the US. I am unsure at this time, but I expect that the next round of reading groups will also include a "201" curriculum, which is designed to expand on what the 101 curriculum provides.
The best way to learn more about these and other events in the future is to join SURJ's email list! You can easily join at SURJ DC's website.
In early June I will be attending the next Education Team meeting and will hopefully have more concrete information on how DSA can get involved.
Economic Justice Committee Report
Two great campaigns, spearheaded by MDCDSAers in Environmental and Racial Justice committees, are taking off in the next two weeks: DCReInvest and Tenants Rights Canvassing. I went to the last DCReinvest meeting with a lot of other MDCDSAers and it was great. Tenants Rights Canvassing in Anacostia is exactly what we need to be doing, so I hope to run into many of you on that Racial Justice campaign.
There's a lot of great work to tap into on healthcare; contact Aaron (Thorapm@gmail.com) for working on a town hall for Medicare for All, and Harry for work on responding to AHCA as it moves through the legislative process (John.Harding.Baker@gmail.com).
Lots to do this week on the DC FY18 Budget and Paid Family Leave. Hit me up at 240-505-9426 / Austin.firstname.lastname@example.org per these points. If you can, come to final public committee hearing on the budget this Friday 5/12 at the John Wilson building, and TESTIFY that you want the tax surplus to be used for more affordable housing, better schools and stronger worker protections, not tax cuts for businesses. Seriously, come testify, it is welcomed, connect with Monica Monica@fairbudget.org from Fair Budget Coalition , who is arranging testimony, or ask me to arrange it with her and I will gladly.
THE COMING WEEK’S CALENDAR (MAY 12-18) <> MORE INFORMATION VIA LINKS TO MEETUP.
Friday 5/12: FAIR BUDGET Testimony and Action: Fair Budget Coalition is working on packing the room for the COW Hearing. RSVP here to sign up to testify or just come by and help pack the room. Contact Monica@fairbudget.org John Wilson Building. 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
Friday 5/12 Punk Rock Karaoke for J20 Defense at the Black Cat
Saturday 5/13: Tenant Town Hall: "Join us in the fight for tenants rights and affordable housing! [...] Get a free legal consult or visit tables of DC government agencies and other organizations that support tenants. Tenant Priorities 2017: DC officials will hear our priorities and will be asked to respond." Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St NW.
Saturday 5/13 Labor Night at DC United 7 p.m. Hang out with our labor allies as DC United takes on Philadelphia.
Tuesday 5/16: Health Care Working Group Meeting: "We will be planning advocacy around single payer and a Health Care Town Hall." 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. DSA office, 6th fl.,1301 Connecticut Avenue NW. (Dupont Circle Metro)
Tuesday 5/16: East of the River Schools Matter, Rally and March: "East of the River parents, students, teachers, community members, etc. rally for equity with public school funding. Say yes to 3.5% per-pupil increase!" 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm : Ballou Senior High School
MAY EVENTS IN COMING WEEKS
Saturday 5/20: Economic Justice Committee meeting: political education session to be announced. Organizing sub-committee elections. Working groups will present updates. 2 pm to 4 pm: Mt. Pleasant Library. 3160 16th Street NW
Sunday 5/21 Metro DC DSA Communications Committee 1-2:30 p.m., Mt. Pleasant Library
Sunday 5/21 Metro DC DSA Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee, 2 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library
Sunday, 5/21 Socialist Feminist Reading Group, 4 p.m., Kogod Courtyard at National Portrait Gallery
Tuesday, 5/23 Socialist Feminist Committee meets, 6:30 p.m., DSA office, 6th Fl. 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW
Sunday, 5/28 Intro to DSA: Socialism 101, 1:30 p.m., Petworth Neighborhood Library
Wednesday 5/31 MDCDSA Happy Hour, 6:30 p.m., The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW
AND COMING UP IN JUNE:
Sunday 6/4 Socialist Book Group Discussion, 3 p.m. at Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery
Saturday, 6/10 DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10 a.m. at Dupont Circle Metro station, south entrance.
For more info on allied events consult the invaluable Peace Center Activist Alert Calendar http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts
By Andy Feeney
- A Climate March With Many Perspectives
Yet how the world can respond to climate crisis, with Republicans controlling the U.S. Congress and Trump in the White House, is a question on which the U.S. left, and the environmental movement as well, have reached little agreement. Progressive responses to climate change instead are marked by multiple contradictions. Many of these were on public display on April 29 when an estimated 150,000 – 200,000 people, representing some 900 different organizations, participated in the People’s Climate March (PCM) in Washington.
Participants ranged from freelancers with placards like “There is no Planet B” and traditional environmental organizations to many left organizations like the CPUSA, SWP, PSL and various RCP front groups.
DSA organized a vigorous contingent of some 80 to 100 marchers, thanks in large part to the hard work of Brian Doyle, co-leader of our chapter’s Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee (CC&EJC) and other CC&EJC comrades. Also building the event were David Duhalde of the national staff, members of our chapter’s Events and Logistics Committee, and designers and distributors of signs and swag from Metro DC DSA’s talented Communications Committee.
DSA members arriving from New York and New Jersey, among other states, joined local DSA members for the event. DSA’s signs proclaimed, alternatively, “Change the System, Not the Climate,” “Socialize, Not Privatize,” “This planet is for everyone,” and “Demand Climate Justice.” A number of non-DSA members disembarking from Union Station, before the march began, asked us if we could share extra signs with them.
In short, the PCM was strikingly diverse, exactly as organizers had wanted. But because of this diversity, it was clear the event did not end with general agreement on any common strategy that all participants can pursue after the march ended.
- An attempt to work toward common ground
Jacquelyn Smith, a co-leader of the Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee, recruited the speakers at the panel discussion and organized the event with expert help from Metro DC DSA’s Communications and Events & Logistics committees, notably including Jim McGee and Franklin Roberts. Panelists at the event included economist Gar Alperovitz, NAACP state (Indiana) environmental staffer Denise Abdul-Rahman, UMD anthropologist Shirley Fiske, psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon, and D.C. social activist and PSL member Eugene Puryear.
[Full information on panelists is at the end of this article]
Sam Knight, a new DSA member and a District-based journalist who is the cofounder of the District Sentinel News Co-Op, served as moderator for the panel. A lively discussion followed.
Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist who founded The Climate Mobilization shortly following the big 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City, has stated in previous writings that countless Americans are in denial about the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, and that most of us pay a heavy psychological price for our repression of what we fundamentally know to be true.
“The main obstacle we face in dealing with climate change is climate change itself,” on the grounds that the huge scope of the problem fosters “prevarications and euphemisms” and other distorted forms of communication, even among activists working to shift public discourse on the climate. “We are already in climate crisis,” Salamon said. “So why are the vast majority of people in the U.S., including many on the left, acting as if we’re still basically in normal times?”
In order to avoid unduly frightening people, Salamon continued, too many climate activists offer half-measures to combat the problem, one example being a so-called “100 by 50” bill recently introduced by senators Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, and Ed Markey that would commit the U.S. to achieving complete reliance on renewable energy by 2050.
The bill is has good features, Salamon said, “but it also means that we will keep burning fossil fuels for another 35 years.” As an alternative, Salamon voiced support for TCM’s plan for a crash U.S. government program of war-footing scope that could resolve one problem that moderator Sam Knight posed to the panelists: how to ensure a “just transition” to a green future and resolve conflicts between the environmental movement and organized labor over the elimination of fossil fuels. During the mobilization for World War II, Salamon stated, the U.S. essentially achieved full employment.
Expressing a significantly different view of the green economy and how to build it, Denise Abdul-Rahman of the Indiana NAACP stated that one crucial way in which capitalism blocks the emergence of a greener society is via “the continuation of a false narrative that puts profits before people,” coupled with the low wages, poverty and political disempowerment that the system currently generates, particularly among many communities of color.
Abdul-Rahman, a delegate to the conference that drew up the Paris Agreements in Indiana, organized a Just Energy Campaign reducing coal-fired generation of electricity and successfully fighting pre-emptive legislation disadvantaging rooftop solar.
In Indiana, Abdul-Rahman said, people of color live in a “hyper-conservative state, and the obstacles to a green economy include all the policies of that state.” A green economy would need to be based on social justice and the idea of putting people first, before profits. And given the demographic change that is now well underway in the United States, advocates for a green economy need to engage with people of color and residents of Latino communities. “You can’t just decide to do it, without consultation and engagement. To begin with, the conversation has to involve people who look like me.”
One element of such a framework would include the promotion of community-based and community-owned cooperatives, such as the “Cooperation Jackson” enterprise that the late Choke Lumumba, a radical black nationalist and mayor of Jackson, MS, helped to launch in that city, Abdul-Rahman said. “What would it look like for returning citizens if they could receive free training in solar rooftop installation? That’s part of the just transition that I’ve been working on in our communities.”
Gar Alperovitz, a cofounder of the Next System Project stated in the panel discussion what he has previously stated in books such as America After Capitalism and What Then Must We Do? Corporate capitalism in the U.S. is currently in a potentially terminal state of crisis, Alperovitz asserted. One key obstacle to building a green economy as a solution to that crisis is “us” –that is, members of the political left who have not yet formulated a coherent vision of a better system that can win widespread popular support and political acceptance.
As Alperovitz sees the issue, U.S. capitalism resolved its recurring crises throughout the 19th century largely through expansion along the western frontier and, in the 20th century, by military Keynesianism -- the allocation of excess investment capital, labor and economic output to the Pentagon and the military industrial complex. Both forms of deferring crisis are now exhausted, he said. In short, Alperovitz argued, “We’re running out of land, and we’re running out of war, as effective stimulants for capitalism.” The system therefore is facing protracted crisis, creating an era that Alperovitz believes is the most transformative in all of previous U.S. history. Alperovitz in his remarks argued – as he has for many years – for a massive development of community-based, worker-owned cooperatives and similar alternative enterprises as the core of a new system that can serve as an alternative both to corporate capitalism and to state socialism. But in the panel discussion, he argued that democratic socialists should push for the nationalization of the large oil companies – potentially a very centralized step – as a route toward fixing climate crisis.
Though the critical path to bank nationalization was available in the financial collapse of 2008, he said, the Left was unready to advocate, and therefore the public to accept, that move. Today, Alperovitz argued, the government should be prevailed on to cure the climate crisis by a government buyout of the fossil fuel industry Alperovitz said, and “of all people,” democratic socialists should vigorously promote the idea. He noted that the alternative of tougher regulation would be captured by the companies, as always.
Partly challenging Alperovitz’s presentation, panelist Eugene Puryear stated that while alternative visions of the future are important, a potentially bigger obstacle to a green economy is “politics,” the problem that “we don’t have the right people making the decisions.” In part this is due to divisions within the working class that have kept working people from exercising power, suggested Puryear, a D.C. social activist and member of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.
To create a green economy, Puryear added, “We need to grapple with the nature of the State.” The U.S. Constitution adopted by an elite group of white slaveholders in 1789, Puryear noted, had not protected minorities from enslavement, Jim Crow oppression and worse, nor prevented repression of Left activists at various critical points in the nation’s history.
Advocates for a green and socially just economy need to recognize that the repressive power of the political state may one day be used against us, Puryear suggested. As for Alperovitz’s idea of using government-created money to buy out the fossil fuel companies, Puryear said, he looked on oil company executives not as “businessmen, but as criminals.” He added: “We shouldn’t be buying them out. They should be jailed.”
In a follow-up exchange, Alperovitz suggested that Puryear was essentially talking about violent revolution, “and this is not a question to take lightly.” However, Alperovitz agreed that “If we’re talking about democratic socialism, constitutional change is essential.” In a reply to Alperovitz, Puryear suggested that the climate change movement will not necessarily escape from future government repression simply because it pursues peaceful and democratic strategies, if the biggest corporations begin to feel too threatened.
Apart from the question of buying up fossil fuel assets, Puryear noted Bernie Sanders’s support in West Virginia and elsewhere among working people who ended up voting for Trump, “not just because Sanders is ‘white,’ but more basically because he has called for raising taxes on Wall Street and using the money to provide coal miners and other West Virginians with free health care and free college tuition.” Successful campaigns to reach even workers in fossil fuel-related jobs might be based on this recognition.
Panel member Shirley Fiske, a University of Maryland anthropologist, in 2012 submitted a report to the AAA, “Why Climate Matters,” in which she noted that the negative effects of climate change are falling hardest on those members of the human community who have done the least to create the problem, and who are perhaps least equipped to cope with it including low-income, politically disempowered communities even in the United States.
Fiske has noted that in 2014, political gridlock and widespread confusion about the issue in the United States were frustrating action on climate change. And a report she participated in summarized:
“Existing top-down programs do not treat the social and economic variables that underpin vulnerability to climate change – poverty, marginalization, lack of education and information, and loss of control over resources. Unless these factors are taken into consideration, efforts to build resilience and reduce vulnerability globally are likely to fall short.”
In her presentation to DSA’s panel discussion, Fiske expressed “no doubt that capitalism and economic growth are driving climate change all over the world.” Also contributing to the problem, Fiske stated, have been the historic rise of the nation state, the Industrial Revolution of several centuries past and the growth of extractive corporations, “whether they are in China or here[AF1] .” and, as well, the massive displacement of traditional peoples by infrastructure excess such as dam projects and the conversion of communally controlled lands into deeded private property.
Fiske largely called for locally based, community-controlled efforts to address the crisis. “Today is a time to be talking about taking local control [over resources],” Fiske said. joining all the panelists except for Salamon in explicitly promoting locally based, worker-owned enterprises and other cooperative ventures as vehicles for progress.
More than 150 people, including more than 50 local members and supporters of Metro DC DSA, attended the panel discussion. At least two dozen audience members also attended a DSA open house after the event at the Institute for Policy Studies office on Connecticut Avenue.
A video recording of the panel discussion is now available at DSA’s Facebook site. To access it, click on https://m.facebook.com/events/1635564506747020/ .
Full introductions of the panelists are here:
- Gar Alperovitz, a radical economist and historian with experience on Capitol Hill, who leads the Democracy Collective and is cofounder of its Next System Project to develop models of an alternative economy;
- Margaret Klein Salamon, a trained clinical psychologist and director of The Climate Mobilization (TCM), an organization working to eliminate U.S. dependence on fossil fuels within the next decade;
- Shirley Fiske, professor of environmental anthropology at the University of Maryland and one-time director of the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) task force on climate change;
- DC social justice activist Eugene Puryear, organizer of the Stop Police Terror Project and the 2016 vice-presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL); and
- Denise Abdul-Rahman, Environmental and Climate Justice Chair for the NAACP Conference in the state of Indiana. Abdul-Rahman spoke in lieu of Jacquelyn Patterson, director of the NAACP’s national Environmental Climate Justice Program, who had originally planned to be on the panel but had to cancel due to a competing obligation
Wisconsin Working Families Party Director Marina Dimitrijevic made the following statement about Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s bill introduced on May 2 to close the carried interest loophole:
“We applaud Sen. Tammy Baldwin for introducing the Carried Interest Fairness Act in Congress to close the tax loophole which lets hedge fund and private equity investment managers pay a capital gains rate of 20 percent on the portion of their earnings known as carried interest. This is about half of what the rest of Americans pay for their income taxes.
Why should the top one percent get a benefit that is denied to the rest of us? If anything, the wealthiest Americans should pay a higher rate on their income than teachers, firefighters, and nurses. Closing this loophole would generate more than $15 billion that we could use to fund other priorities.
Donald Trump clearly has no intention of keeping campaign promises to stand up to Wall Street, instead stocking his cabinet and administration with the very people who benefit every day from the carried interest tax loophole. Failure to close it is funding the growing gap between the one percent and the rest of us. As the Trump administration tries to enact so-called tax reform and otherwise force a radical redistribution of wealth upwards, we applaud Sen. Baldwin for fighting for common sense solutions and the working people of Wisconsin and America.”
The Working Families Party is a grassroots political organization. With chapters in Wisconsin and a dozen other states, as well as a membership that spans the nation, the Working Families Party works to advance public policies that make a difference in the lives of working people, like raising the minimum wage, stopping bad trade deals, taking on Wall Street, tackling climate change, and combating racial injustice. Working Families brings these issues to the ballot box and the halls of government at the federal, state, and local levels.
The post Statement on Sen. Baldwin’s carried interest loophole bill appeared first on Working Families.
Join us for an afternoon of discussion and debate!Sessions will include: Capitalism: How it works, How it doesn't How do we win: Socialism From Below
Capitalism is killing the planet. With destruction of the biosphere approaching an irreversible tipping point, business continues to undermine real environmental reform. Anything that restricts profits is steamrolled. Instead of a restructured economy based on alternative energy sources, capitalism is pushing for a continued reliance on the fossil fuels. Why? Because it’s cheaper in the short-term. And under capitalism, nothing matters except the short-term.Read more
This is our monthly meeting. Open to all, except racists, fascists, homophobes, Islamophobes, moles, trolls, provocateurs and alt-right assholes.
2:00 – 4:00
2617 Hauser Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90016
A strong, renewed wave of social justice and environmental activism crested upon DC this past week for the People’s Climate March, and the Baltimore People’s Climate Movement. The local manifestation, which has coalesced for several months and met to discuss City concerns, is made up by various social and environmental justice organizations, artists, and members of various communities of faith. The coalition meets to discuss and address issues like transit equity, community control of land, housing, worker’s rights, clean energy, and environmental injustice.
And Maryland Working Families (based in Baltimore) was out full-force! Because we are committed to environmental justice: the recognition that minority and low-income communities often bear a disproportionate share of environmental costs. Environmental justice is no longer just about saving the rain forest or polar bears — it’s about the fact that air pollution causes lung disease and strokes, and severe asthma in children is the leading cause of school absences in Baltimore City.
Maryland Working Families is proud to have helped organize the Baltimore People’s Climate Movement — contributing our organizing and coalition-building expertise. It was a very empowering feeling to be part of a 600-strong group of Baltimoreans who know that human health and social justice depend on a healthy environment. Coalition members marched with signs, banners and puppets, depicting rowhomes, “seeds of promise”, and the Baltimore incinerator. The artwork was created by local artists and community members at Black Cherry Puppet Theater in Hollins Market.
The People’s Climate March, which estimates say was attended by over 200,000 people, was the largest manifestation in the country, with 375 sister marches which also took place in cities across the country. The march was led by native nations fighting against the continuing development of fossil fuels. Nations from all over the US, including those at the North Dakota site protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline were joined by nations as far as the Amazon. The march began at the Washington mall, marched up Pennsylvania Avenue and circled the White House. It also coincided with Trump’s 100th day in office.
By Estevan Hernandez
Posted on May 3, 2017 by the webmaster
In cities across California activists with the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) took to the streets on May 1, known world wide as International Workers' Day. Along with tens of thousands of people across the country, and millions worldwide, we marched and chanted against racism and for full rights for all immigrants, women and LGBTQ people.International Workers' Day 2017 in Sacramento (photo by Estevan Hernandez)
In Sacramento California the PFP and Party for Socialism and Liberation organized a joint socialist march contingent. Our contingent kept the energy high with popular slogans like, "When workers rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back", "Say it loud say it clear, immigrants are welcome here" and "Get up, get down, there's a revolution in this town!"
C.T. Weber, long time organizer and early leader of the PFP, addressed the crowd from the mainstage, saying: I bring you greetings from the Peace and Freedom Party,conceived 50 years ago, in the late 60s, out of the struggles of the freedom rides, the farm workers’ union organizing, and the anti-war movements. Today we are California’s only ballot qualified socialist party. We gather with you today, International Worker’s Day, in a spirit of solidarity and for the expansion of the growing power of working people! By uniting with this new generation of "resistors" and by popularizing socialism we can continue help rebuild a new socialist movement to finally uproot this rotted system of capitalist oppression and poverty.International Workers' Day 2017 in San Francisco (photo by Paul Burton)
Estevan Hernandez is a State Central Committee member from Sacramento.REMOVE THIS PARAGRAPH AFTER INSERTING LINKS TO EARLIER ARTICLES. You have to replace [subject] with something, each "id=nnnn" with the article ID and each [title] with the article title.
For more on [subject], see
By Marsha Feinland
Posted on May 3, 2017 by the webmaster
Members of the Peace and Freedom Party from San Francisco and Alameda Counties participated in the Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice on Friday, April 21 in front of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1X Headquarters in San Francisco.Earth Day demonstrators in San Francisco, April 24, 2017 (photo by Gloria La Riva)
They joined Bay Area residents from Bayview-Hunters Point, Richmond, Oakland, San Leandro and Livermore as well as Mohave Elders of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Gila River Indian Community members, youth from East Los Angeles, and people from farmworker communities in the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys. All of these communities are impacted by fracking, refineries, and other sources of pollution.
The rally was followed by a march to the Federal Building.
The demands of the demonstration were:
- Expand, don’t cut, the USEPA and federal and state environmental laws and regulations. Fire EPA Administrator Pruitt.
- Remove polluters and billionaires from Trump’s Cabinet.
- Stop Trump’s attacks on immigrant communities, Indigenous sacred sites, civil rights and justice.
- Support people, health, science and justice, not financial gain for corporate polluters.
NOTE BELOW ANNOUNCEMENT OF CANDIDATES
IN STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTION OF MAY 7.
You’ll see here new articles and some of the articles that you have already seen in the Weekly Updates as well, sometimes updated still again. Despite the relatively rapid-fire appearance of the updates, the monthly newsletter aims to refocus and stabilize the discussion and put both our immediate and our long-term perspectives in context – with one another, we hope.
The occasion of upping our frequency with the Weekly Updates, it is doubtless clear to you, is that the frequency of events and outrages and the frequency of our response have accelerated as well. In April, the DSA local in Washington, D.C. turned out for worker protests and support, mounted a thorough afternoon-long exploration of our socialist work on antiracist and anti-immigrant issues “Connecting Race and the Socialist Resistance,” participated in the Tax Day protest, filled seats for the YDS debate versus a right-wing student group at Georgetown, prefaced the huge People’s Climate March with a panel on the socialist vision of “Building a Green Economy” – and followed up the next day with a forest of red flags in the midst of the Climate March, a significant socialist presence. And just yesterday (May Day) we turned out for International Workers’ Day action in specific support of frontline immigrant communities, notwithstanding the president’s spurious declaration of May 1 as “Loyalty Day.”
The action in our committees, organic praxis formations that sprang up as fast as we grew this year, ranged from picket-line support to Anacostia River cleanup; supporting ReInvest DC’s efforts to divest from socially harmful investments to participating in development of a People’s Budget for the District.
This kind of manifest struggle has become our new trademark as we have become more an activist organization than ever. The flip side has been the continuing focus on keeping all of our work conceptualized within the broad, rich and human socialist framework that is uniquely Democratic Socialists of America’s – yes, brand.
Keeping that activism tracking with socialist principle and analysis continues to be the mission of the monthly Washington Socialist. We’ll just be taking advantage of the opportunity to bring things to your attention in a more timely fashion, too.
This great new look for the Washington Socialist is thanks to a design working group on the local's Communication Committee.
STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
Sun. | 5/7 | 3:30pm | Friends Meeting House
A broadened and strengthened leadership for the Metro DC DSA local begins May 7 with election of an enlarged 7-member Steering Committee.
The following members are candidates:
Candidate statements will follow in a separate message. All paid-up members of Democratic Socialists of America are eligible to vote in this election.
VIEW ELECTION DETAILS
RECAP: YDS v TPUSA DEBATE
Wed. | 4/27
Watch the full video from last week's debate between Ryan Mosgrove from YDS and Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA!
RECAP: GREEN ECONOMY PANEL
Thu. | 4/27
Watch the full video from last week's panel discussion on the intersections of economic and environmental justice!
RECAP: PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
Sat. | 4/29
Metro DC and neighboring DSA chapters had a great presence at the People's Climate March!
METRO DC DSA EVENTS
Sat. | 5/6 | 12:30pm | Petworth Library
This meeting will have updates about baby boxes and CPC campaigns, as well as a Bowl-a-Thon fundraising for DCAF and our reading group.
READ MORE & RSVP
RACIAL JUSTICE AND ANTI-BIGOTRY COMMITTEE
Sat 5/ 6 2 p.m.1616 P Street NW, Suite 150
Washington, DC (map) Survey responses, housing issues, more Details and RSVP:
MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Sun. | 5/7 | 3:30pm | Friends Meeting House
Primary agenda item:Steering Committee Elections (see above)
READ MORE & RSVP
LABOR NIGHT AT DC UNITED
Sat. | 5/13 | 7pm | RFK Stadium | $20
Hang out with Metro DC DSA and our allies in labor while watching DC United take on the Philadelphia Union!
READ MORE & BUY TICKETS
SOCIALIST SALON: RACIAL JUSTICE AND GENTRIFICATION
Thu. | 5/18 | 6:30pm | Location TBD
Attend the next salon, which will focus on organizing to defend threatened immigrant and African American communities in Metro DC.
CHECK FOR UPDATE
ECONOMIC JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Sat. | 5/20 | 2pm | Mt. Pleasant Library
Visit the DC DSA website to learn more about this committee
CHECK FOR UPDATES
Sun. | 5/21 | 1pm | Mt. Pleasant Library
Visit the DC DSA website to learn more about this committee
CHECK FOR UPDATES
Wed. | 5/31 | 6:30pm | The Big Hunt
Relax and enjoy some brews with your
DSA brothers and sisters!
SOCIALIST BOOK GROUP DISCUSSION
Sun. | 6/4 | 3pm | NPG Kogod Courtyard
Discussion of On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
READ MORE AND RSVP
WASHINGTON SOCIALIST ARTICLES
METRO DC DSA'S COMMITTEES RACK UP A BUSY APRIL
Read detailed reports on the work of DC DSA's action committees...
PEOPLE'S BUDGET MOVEMENT DEVELOPS A CHALLENGE DOCUMENT FOR D.C.
A group based in struggling working families where they live is mobilzing to push D.C.'s government to write a budget that benefits people, not developers and the wealthy...
DC REINVEST PRESSURES CITY ON INVESTMENT POLICY
A new organization mobilizes to push the city to invest in its own communities, not the lucrative but harmful investments (such as Wells Fargo) it currently holds.
TRANSIT AS A CORE OF COMMUNITY SUCCESS
A public forum identifies the major role of transit for good or ill in the success of communties. The region's deepening inequality in jobs and housing adds to the argument for a Metro funding solution...
CARBON FEES/TAXES DEBATED IN METRO DC DSA CLIMATE COMMITTEE MEETING
Carbon taxes, which some are arguing could get bipartisan support (as "fees") in a polarized environment, are not every environmentalist's cuppa. The local's Climate Committee hosted a debate.
DC LABORFEST FILLS UP THE MAY CALENDAR
DC LaborFest, of which Metro DC DSA is a supporter, floods your May calendar with movies, music and events...
GOINGS ON: TALK, THEATER, MUSIC AND MORE
Union struggle and George Bernard Shaw on the stage; history of oppression and struggle in neighborhoods we know -- stay current with culture.
INSIDE, OUTSIDE: COMMUNICATING OUR SOCIALISM
How do we manage our talk about our socialism inside the organization and outside it, and what contradictions to we have to deal with?
For those of you who never miss an important online article of interest to the left -- GOOD READS is not for you. For the rest of us? Come along...
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Maryland Working Families is pleased to partner with Wellstone Action to present the JumpStart Candidate Training Program. This full-day training is for progressives who are considering running for public office, but don’t know where to begin. Participants will be guided through a self-assessment process to help them determine if they are ready to run and set realistic expectations about what it will take to win.
Campaign professionals will guide participants through developing plans for dealing with both personal and campaign demands. With an intense focus on skills-building, the training will feature workshops on targeting, research, fundraising, developing an effective narrative and stump speech.
Upon completion of the program, participants will have a detailed task list and timeline for launching a campaign. In July, candidates will invited back to participate in a 3-day advanced training where they will have the opportunity to get one-on-one advice on how to improve their campaign.
RSVP Now** –Montgomery/Frederick County Regional – Sat, May 13, 2017 – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EDT — SEIU Local 500, 901 Russell Avenue, #300, Gaithersburg, MD 20879 Prince George’s/Charles County Regional – Saturday, June 3, 2017 – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EDT — Location TBA Baltimore/ Central Maryland Regional – Sunday, June 4, 2017 – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EDT — Location TBA
Posted on May 2, 2017 by the Alameda County Central Committee
On Saturday, May 6, the Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party and Movement presents "Building Working Class Resistance: Report-back on May Day 2017".
When: Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 2:00pm to 4:30pm
Where: Starry Plough Pub, 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley(MAP)
What: Forum on working class resistance
Sponsor: Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party and Movement
Contact: call 510-332-3865 or email cuyleruyle - at - mac.com
Cost: Free, but please buy food and drink at the pub
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Sam Knight and Lynne Williamson
RACIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The first few months of the Trump administration have injected additional urgency into this year's May Day commemorations.
Republican attacks on immigrants and Muslims, and the party's anti-labor agenda are giving organizers extra motivation to agitate for this year's International Workers Day.
Signs have been up for weeks all over Washington, in English and Spanish, encouraging city residents to walk off the job on May 1, to join in demonstrations.
The Racial Justice Committee has been doing work with like-minded groups to help promote demonstrations. The committee is spearheading local DSA work on the DC May Day Steering committee, organizing alongside Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) and CASA.
Committee members have been preparing for the event, in part, by raising money to promote the call to action and by canvassing businesses. Part of the steering committee's work has involved outreach to encourage worker participation without fear of retaliation.
Demonstrations are slated to begin at Lamont Park, in Mt. Pleasant, at noon. From there, organizers have planned to march first to Columbia Heights, then to Malcolm X Park. The protest will eventually end up outside the White House.
The campaign to withdraw city assets from Wells Fargo over its dirty energy portfolio is stepping up early next month.
Activists from the DC ReInvest Coalition are putting out a call to “Pack the Room” at a DC City Council Finance Committee hearing on May 4.
The chair of the panel, Council Member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), refuses to consider divestment legislation, even though six of his colleagues support such a proposal. There are only 13 members on the DC City Council.
The Environmental Justice Committee, which is part of the ReInvest Coalition, is encouraging local DSA members to attend the demonstration.
The Events and Logisitics and the Economic Justice Committee are also helping with the divestment campaign. Wells has made headlines in recent months both for supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline and for selling millions of products to customers who never requested them.
Wells has also invested in private prisons and been caught engaging in racist lending practices. The city invests $2 billion with the bank, according to organizers.
SOCIALIST FEMINIST COMMITTEE
A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs and deserves medically-accurate information and guidance on her options at a full-service women’s health center. That is not, however, what is available to many women in Washington, DC.
There are two Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in DC, where staffers are employed to mislead, shame and dissuade women from obtaining abortions. These clinics use false advertising to lure vulnerable women into an anti-choice environment.
The Socialist Feminist Committee has begun a campaign to call attention to their existence, expose how they operate and how they misrepresent themselves. The panel plans on investigating how to create informational campaigns and ways to counter the CPC advertising.
Members are currently preparing to research anti-CPC actions in other cities and to contact chapters of local pro-choice organizations for strategies.
* * * As part of the committee's continuing goal of fostering education on socialist feminism, members have formed a reading group. The first readings are two essays from the book “Women: Class and the Feminist Imagination.”
- The committee is also fundraising for the Bowl-a-Thon, an event being held to raise money for women who need help paying for abortions. Early efforts have already proven so successful, the original goal has been raised to $1,500 from $500.
- Panel members are also actively collaborating with counterparts on the Economic Justice Committee, to bring socialist feminist input for a Healthcare Town Hall. The event is currently in initial planning stages, and it is being held as a prelude to a single payer healthcare campaign.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mayor Muriel Bowser released her annual budget proposal earlier this month to widespread criticism from labor and social advocates.
Analysts on the left said the Mayor is ignoring wide swaths of the city, pointing to low levels of funding for worker protections, child care, housing, healthcare and medical services.
The Economic Justice Committee served as Metro DC DSA's contingent at a symposium held to discuss Bowser's proposals.
The DC People's Budget Forum, which was earlier this month, hosted job and worker protection training sessions. Organizers also collected food donations for those in need.
* * *
Good incremental news on the continuing fight for a $15 minimum wage: Dulles and National airport workers will see an hourly pay bump of $4 in January 2018 to $11.55.
Minimum airport wages will eventually rise to $12.75 by 2020. Workers at these two travel hubs are currently receiving as low as $7.25 per hour.
* * *
Non-union federal employees have been discussing organizing options under the new administration.
Committee members are investigating the possibility of setting up a space where employees from different agencies and postal workers could come together to talk and organize.
Information on all of Metro DC DSA's committees and contact information are at http://www.dsadc.org/join-our-committees.html
By Alex Banks
The city of Washington, DC invests $2 billion in Wells Fargo, which supports dirty pipelines (like Dakota Access), private prisons, and racist, predatory lending practices. The solution: push the city toward full divestment. Tuesday evening (April 13) at the Southwest Library, the newly formed coalition known as DC ReInvest gathered for a public mass meeting. DC DSA was well accounted for with seven of our comrades present along with representatives from most of the other six founding organizations: 350 DC, Rising Hearts, SURJ DC, Socialist Alternative and DC Fights Back.
Led by SA's Sarko Sarkodie, the meeting welcomed newcomers to the campaign, which in the short term aims to have DC (as well as individuals) cut ties with Wells Fargo while seeing the District reinvest back into its communities over the long haul.
So far the campaign has had some typical highs: getting 6 out of 13 of the DC Council to endorse our proposal of divestment; and lows: being stonewalled by Council Financial Committee chair Jack Evans (Ward 2) thus putting a hold on the proposal moving forward. The meeting ran for about an hour and a half with plenty of audience participation. I invite members to join this effort and am happy to try to answer any further questions.
Overall, it was a very inviting and informative affair with plenty of valuable knowledge offered. If anybody is interested in any upcoming events, check out the DCReInvest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DCReInvest/?ref=br_rs
as well as their Twitter page: https://twitter.com/DCReInvest
This article first appeared in our Weekly Update for April 21.
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Kurt Stand
The week between the March for Science on April 22 and the People’s Climate March on April 29, “Science for the People” organized a series of forums and discussions throughout Washington DC to heighten awareness of the connection between climate justice and social justice. Community Lens: Public Transit was amongst these highlighting the fact that transportation is an environmental concern -- for enabling people to move around from place to place without dependence on cars has an impact on the air we breathe, on the carbon emissions causing global warming. A rapid transit/bus oriented development as distinct from urban sprawl is also an urban planning concern -- for how we get around within an urban/suburban environment is not only a question of transportation but also a matter of housing and jobs, a matter of recreation and shopping venues. Which is another way of saying transportation impacts us as workers, as riders, as community members; that how transportation is organized reflects and reinforces class divides and patterns of racial discrimination.
All of these issues were addressed at the April 25 Community Lens: Public Transit panel held at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, which examined the crisis facing our Metro system and the impact of WMATA proposals which seek to “solve” the problem on the backs of transit workers and riders in a manner that will strengthen gentrification and ultimately only lead to further dependence on cars. Speaking to these concerns were four panelists: Zuri Teshiera, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689; Ben Ross, Action Committee for Transit; Claudia Barragan, Environmental Justice Committee, DC Sierra Club; David Schwartzman: DC Statehood Green Party (and the DSA Environmental Justice Committee among other organizations) who brought their respective areas of expertise into an exploration of Metro’s problems and on how to organize for an alternative -- a public transportation system that is safe, reliable, affordable, and reduces the impact of climate change.
One key step in that direction is a call for dedicated funding, with that funding (unlike in proposals by WMATA and business-friendly representatives) based on a form of progressive taxation. While the nature of that taxation can take several forms, as per various suggestions by panelists, they rejected the notion that our local governments can’t find the funds to maintain let alone improve Metro. Such claims ignore tax giveaways to business interests and developers and ignore the truth that money is generally found for highway construction often at a cost much greater than the need served. Yet the unmet need for more public transit, transit that addresses the massive displacement caused by gentrification, has grown.
Cuts in bus service and increased Metro fares, alongside the system’s unreliability, have turned many to solutions that compound the problem. This is evident in the growth of Uber and other auto-based transit which increases costs, both environmental and social. And bike lanes (which are environmentally friendly) nevertheless do not address the needs of families, of the elderly, of the very young, of the disabled, of those who work at odd hours or long distances. Both Uber and bikes represent private answers to social needs -- and so each also ignores the need of workers. Contrary to WMATA’s proposals, transit workers are not to blame for the system’s failure and should not be sacrificed in the name of solvency. Union members have negotiated the benefits they have and work to make the system safe and reliable. ATU Local 689 is putting forward proposals to rebuild Metro based on a community of interests between workers and riders. The attack on transit workers and the lack of any vision or program of an expanded, affordable transit system are aspects of class warfare amongst working people that is the other side of unbridled, unproductive growth that is destroying our environment.
The panel was moderated by Sigute Meilus, executive director of Americans for Transit -- a labor-supported non-profit that will take up these issues by organizing riders and community members to work with unionists on behalf of a system that meets the needs of people throughout our region as opposed to those who seek cutbacks and privatization that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of all. The panel discussion was a further step in a campaign that will only become stronger in the months ahead.