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Weekly Update for June 23-30

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 08:52
Weekly Update for June 23-30What's On This Week
The Metro DC DSA Week Ahead

TODAY Fri Jun 23 Lobbying and Vigil to save Temporary Protected Status for Central American allies. See Solidarity listings below.

Sat Jun 24   Metro DC DSA Communications Committee Monthly Meeting 1:30 - 3 p.m. Southeast Neighborhood Library 403 7th Street Southeast, Washington, DC (map) Join our efforts on Metro DC DSA's presentation of self! Comms committee works on internal and external communications: newsletter/updates; social media; design,... Learn more
Sat Jun 24 Road Trip! Our Baltimore DSA comrades “will be hosting a Stand Up for Socialism! fundraiser, to benefit our chapter, taking place at The Crown -- located at 1910 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218. The event begins at 8 p.m., and will feature comedians Eric Dadourian, Naomi Karavani, Jessica Murphy Garrett, Denise Taylor, and Umar Khan. A $15 dollar donation is encouraged, but any amount is welcomed, as we work towards sustaining and building the financial viability of our chapter.”

Sun Jun 25 Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee - Education & Outreach Event 1 p.m. Petworth Neighborhood Library 4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC (map) This meeting will feature representatives from two national organizations working in very similar ways for a rapid transition to a sustainable society powered only by... Learn more

Sun Jun 25 Speakout Against Fascism noon see Solidarity listing below.

Wed Jun 28 – DCDSA Steering Committee Meeting and Mailing Party, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Woodbridge Neighborhood Library, 1801 Hamlin Street NE Washington,  D.C.  20018 Our fundraising campaign for the chapter will be launched with this mailing – join us. Near(ish) Rhode Island Ave./Brentwood Metrorail station.

Wed Jun 28 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

NOTE that because the July issue of the Washington Socialist will be published on Saturday, July 1 there will be no Weekly Update on Friday, June 30

Events in July: see the Meetup

More paths to information:
Maryland peeps – you can get an email once a week from our allies at Progressive Maryland with calendar items and activism news by clicking here. You can sample the goods here.

Baltimore comrades, Check in on Max Obuszewski’s highly useful calendar and tip sheet at http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

To keep up with progressive events in and around DC consult the invaluable calendar at the Washington Peace Center, http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts

Solidarity with our allies

Save TPS Now! Solidarity with Our Central American Friends with lobbying activity and vigil. Today, June 23,  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. | All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St NW / Capitol Hill
Several groups are coming together for a National Conference to defend Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Haitians just lost their TPS status a couple months ago and already face deportation! Hundreds of Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Haitians and others will be coming to DC for the event to defend TPS. Come show support and solidarity.They need help lobbying on Capitol Hill Today. Plus there's a White House vigil at 5 p.m. More details in the MidWeek Update sent June 20.

Help DC Public Schools teachers by signing their change.org petition demanding a fair contract and retroactive pay from Mayor Bowser.  DCPS teachers have been working in good faith without a contract for 5 years during which they have not received any cost of living increases despite a massive DC budget surplus.  Mayor Bowser likes to tout that DC teachers are among the highest paid in the nation, but when you match cost-of-living to our wages, we rank 42nd in the nation.  The Washington Teachers Union plans a dramatic delivery of the petition signatures to Mayor Bowser, so the more signatures the more dramatic it will be and the more momentum the teachers will have as their struggle for a fair contract heats up.  If you have questions or want to get more involved in this struggle, email Jared Catapano.
The Fair Elections Act of 2017 Public Hearing is rapidly approaching. On June 29th at 9:30 a.m., the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing regarding Working Families’ bill. It will take place in room 500 of the Wilson Building, located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW. We’re encouraging any and all supporters to pack the house and wear blue. If you are interested in testifying please email Austin Kendall (Austin.Drake.Kendall@gmail.com) to be matched with the WF testimony bloc and Mat Hanson.
The bill, if passed would create a voluntary public matching funds program for candidates running for office and would help democratize our elections and empower voters. It would also help balance the scales of our campaign finance system in favor of the people who live and vote here, countering the influence of big money donors that currently fund our elections. 
The movement is alive and thriving in Maryland as well. Montgomery County has passed a public election finance law and progressives recently won a fight to get full funding for it in the county exec’s budget. Howard County’s council recently ratified a Nov. 2016 public referendum passage of the bill and now has to override a veto by the Republican county executive, probably in early July. Progressives in Prince George’s are trying to get public financing seriously on the County Council’s radar because of the heightened cost of local elections due to the new at-large Council seats. . Contact woodlanham@gmail.com for more information on Maryland Fair Elections action.

At the Climate Change and Environmental Justice education and outreach meeting this Sunday, there’s to be a brief update on DCDSA’s partnership with allies on keeping the city’s Comprehensive Plan pro-public rather than pro-developer. Our ally DCReinvest is spearheading development of alternative versions for the city’s Comprehensive Plan. This twenty-year plan is being reconsidered only halfway through its expected life at the behest of developers who feel constrained in their rush to gentrification. They hope to weaken the plan’s public-leaning provisions. Metro DC DSA is partnering with DCReinvest and other groups to fight back against this effort. Crucial deadlines are coming up and the progressive alternative plans, including these drafted by DCDSA, are poised to be submitted this week. They include:
  • A framework amendment establishing “increasing equity through environmental, social and economic justice” as an added core principle of the document;
  • a glossary defining affordable housing and related income and community factors from a progressive perspective as prime considerations, plus a declaration that the glossary should be given equal or greater weight than conflicting definitions in the Zoning Code;
  • Clauses establishing environmental equity for impacted communities as strong considerations in development decisions.
  • Clauses for prevention of displacement and “making affordable housing a required public benefit”.

Speakout Against Fascism Sunday, June 25 -- Defense and support of those arrested and charged Jan. 20 in Inauguration Day protests, sponsored by Smash Racism DC. "In a time of escalating violence against vulnerable communities, when leftists who speak against the powers that control our nation face intense and violent oppression, we have a moral obligation to stand together with those in harm's way against the state and rogue elements alike. Join us at DC Metro Police Headquarters, 300 Indiana Ave. NW, this Sunday, June 25, at 12 p.m. for a speakout that will include voices from community members, activists, including vice-presidential candidate Eugene Puryear, and others who will take a bitter day--a day of open fascist rallies in DC--and turn it into a day of solidarity against the racist, capitalist forces that want to lay claim to our city. Everyone is extremely welcome, and everyone's safety and security are a foremost consideration at this event." More info: Gareth Sparks, garethsparks@gmail.com.  Event Information and RSVP

Nobody in DSA has ever agreed 100 percent with Joe Schwartz when he gets programmatic (but who does it better?). But that’s why we are a big-tent organization, and this is about how we maintain that status and extend our strength.  http://portside.org/2017-06-17/coalition-politics-and-fight-socialism
This post brought a response on [DSA-Activist] from NYC DSA’s Mike Hirsh, which then brought a riposte from Schwartz… and, well, you know. We will include this set of discussions in the July issue of the Washington Socialist.
More from James Livingston on Universal Basic Income and the end of work -- from The Baffler https://thebaffler.com/salvos/why-work-livingston
From a DSA tweet and the New Socialist: https://newsocialist.org.uk/full-corbynism-constructing-a-new-left-political-economy-beyond-neoliberalism/

Feel like you missed anything? Here is last week’s Update.
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Categories: Political Parties

Washington Socialist Midweek Update June 20-23

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 05:40

Wednesday Update - Metro DC DSAHi woody,
This is Metro DC DSA’s interim Weekly Update. There are some urgent actions that have been announced since Friday’s update, and we wanted to get the word out.


Speaking Out to Protect Our Care Wednesday, June 21 | 11 AM - 1 PM | East Lawn of the Capitol Building

When healthcare is under attack, we stand up and we fight back.
Event Information (Facebook)
 NoDAPL Rally: Status Hearing for Tribes vs Army Corps Wednesday, June 21st | 2-3 PM | 333 Constitution Ave NW

Join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Rising Hearts outside of the US District courthouse on Wednesday, 6/21, as both Tribes will go to court for status hearing vs Army Corps Engineers.
Event Information (Facebook)
Vigil for Nabra Wednesday, June 21st | 6:30 PM | 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, VA

Vigil for Nabra, the 17-year-old student from SLHS who was killed this Sunday. The vigil is hosted by her friends and classmates.
Event Information (Facebook)
Metro DC DSA Steering Committee Meeting Wednesday, June 21st | 7 PM - 8:30 PM | Mezzanine Meeting Room @ Northeast Library, 330 7th Street NE

Come attend the open Steering Committee meeting to stay up-to-date with DC DSA's internal business. The agenda is available here.Monthly Salon: Corbyn and the Labour Party - What Happened and What's NextThursday, June 22nd | 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Young Chow (312 Pennsylvania Ave SE)

Glyn Robbins, an active trade unionist and socialist in Britain, will present his thoughts and analysis. Glyn, will also talk about his new book, There's No Place: The American Housing Crisis, and what it means for the UK.
Event Information (Facebook)
Save TPS Now! Solidarity with Our Central American FriendsFriday, June 23rd | 9 AM - 5 PM | All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St NW / Capitol Hill

Several groups are coming together for a National Conference to defend Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Haitians just lost their TPS status a couple months ago and already face deportation! Hundreds of Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Haitians and others will be coming to DC for the event to defend TPS. Come show support and solidarity.

They need help lobbying on Capitol Hill this Friday. They have training on how to lobby, but will need help navigating the halls of congress and filling groups from districts with few participants. There is also a vigil outside the White House that we are invited to.
Event Information and RSVP
  • Meet at All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
  • 7-8 AM: Breakfast and registration
  • 8-9 AM: Welcoming / overview of the day / political analysis and importance of the campaign
  • 9 AM: Buses/vans leave All Souls Church for Capitol Hill
  • 10-11 AM: Legislative briefing, Cannon House Office Building, Room 122 (first floor)
  • 11 AM - 5 PM: Lobbying Representatives and Senators
  • 5:30-6:30 PM: Vigil at the White House. Transportation provided for lobbyists, but all are welcome
  • 6:30-7 PM: Buses/vans leave White House for All Souls Church for a dinner and Central American-themed party

Copyright © 2017 DC DSA, All rights reserved. 

Categories: Political Parties

Washington Socialist Weekly Update for June 16-23

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 07:51
Weekly Update for June 16-23

Senate health care emergency looming
This is Metro DC DSA’s Weekly Update (for June 16-23) to the Washington Socialist, our monthly email newsletter.
Health Care activist alarms are going off as the US Senate moves with all non-deliberative speed to sneak a vote (before the July 4 recess) on the Senate’s messy revision of the House version of the “American Health Care Act.” Going from bad to differently bad, the Senate version contorts itself even more than the House version to preserve a semblance of coverage (unaffordable to many) while saving lots of money to cut taxes for the rich. The leadership-driven process itself is creating opportunities for us. and our allies.
 DCDSA’s Health Care Working Group has prioritized a possible mobilization for action this week. At this week’s Steering Committee open meeting the working group got the go-ahead to set the stage for quick action. Members should stay alert for further communications on this increasingly urgent issue.

We are still tickled by the huge comeback of Labour in the UK elections, putting the Tories in a corner when they hoped to have their boots on workers’ necks when it came to negotiating Brexit. The symbol of the comeback, of course, was Jeremy Corbyn. Sam Knight proposed a resolution at our last General Body Meeting in praise of the victory, which passed by acclamation. Progressive Maryland blogger and MoCo activist Dylan Shelton wrote last week about its meaning for electoral strategy.

The Wayback machine: was it only a week ago that the Weekly Update for June 9-15 included notes on the Climate Change/Environmental Justice working meeting with focus on comprehensive planning, divestment and a push for a DC public bank, remedies for food deserts and community service plans? Or before that, that our June newsletter, the Washington Socialist, highlighted local (DMV), national and international issues and campaigns?
Activist Training Opportunity: ICE accompaniment training
Want to become trained to go in very small groups (2-3) with people to ICE check-ins, immigration court hearings, and district court hearings? Sanctuary DMV is hosting their next ICE Accompaniment training next week!
The training will be Thursday, June 22 from 7-9 p.m. at River Road UMC in Montgomery County. Two steps to register: first, please fill out this general interest form to get on our interested volunteer listserv (future training opps go here first). Then, if you are available for June 22, fill out this registration form to confirm your attendance for that day.
There have been several cases of migrants being detained after going for a routine ICE check-in. They literally disappear without being allowed to inform their friends or relatives, creating panic among their loved ones.
ICE check-ins are at ICE field offices in Fairfax (for migrants living in VA or DC) or Baltimore (for those living in MD). Court dates are at courts, naturally, including metro-accessible locations in the DC area. Appointments will be during working hours on weekdays, except some court appointments may be on Saturdays. In many cases waiting times are quite long, so you may need to block off several hours or an entire day.
These are not designed to be public actions, although in the event that someone is detained, our teams are ready to mobilize. By volunteering to accompany migrants to ICE check-ins, immigration, and other court hearings, you are showing solidarity and helping to ease the anxiety of interacting with the legal system, reducing the likelihood of detention with your presence, and keeping relatives or lawyers informed in case the person with you is detained. This will be a huge help to efforts to find ways to stop the actual deportation.
Language skills other than English, and access to a car, are useful but by no means necessary.
More info from Chris Hicks.
News from our allies at DC Jobs with Justice

The DC Jobs with Justice (DC JwJ) Steering Committee met June 7. DCDSA is a participating member of the organization. Dave Richardson, a DCDSA member who also represents his AFGE local on the JwJ SC, passed along these official notes:
1. Two DC rent control amendments are coming up for hearings on June 22 and 28.  I suggest that members of our Chapter's Housing Committee get in touch with Emma of SEIU Local 32bj or Rob Wool (phonetic) of LEDC. See p. 20 of the attached material for a description of the reform goals.
2. Ari said that the enhanced attorney fee provision of the DC Wage Theft Law is working.  Private attorneys are taking wage cases now. Recall that this provision requires attorney fee awards at the Updated Laffey/Salazar Matrix rates, requires clear and convincing evidence that any reduction from the lodestar will serve the remedial purpose of the law, and provides for de novo appellate review of any reduction.
3. Local 689 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (WMATA employees) is leading a Fix It, Fund It, Make It Fair campaign for WMATA.  They also did a work-to-rule action last month to raise awareness of the understaffing of WMATA's Central Control. Bus managers verbally told drivers to skip the normal "radio check" with Central Control because the understaffing was leading to delays. Local 689 called for bus drivers to perform the radio check. When everyone did it, Central Control was swamped and buses were delayed. Management got pissed.  See there memo on page 17 of the attached materials where management claims that the verbal instructions (the contents of which management does not restate) were required for safety and the Union's action was unsafe and illegal and no one should listen to the Union.  Local 689 is planning actions on June 13 in Upper Marlboro (9:15 am to noon), June 14 at select Metrorail stations, and June 29, 5:30 pm, at Columbia Heights Metrorail. See pp. 11-17 of the materials.
4. The current draft of the DC budget has good news for food programs, 2 new wage theft workers for DOES, and disappointments for housing and homelessness advocates. Did you know that DC spends 15% of what is required to end homelessness in DC?  Meanwhile, DC has $3 billion in reserves.
5. DC's Juneteenth Day Celebration will be June 17, Saturday, 1-5 PM at Anacostia Park, Field #6. [See the calendar below for the ONE DC/SURJ announcement.]
6. We also endorsed the Language Access Amendments Campaign of Many Languages / One Voice (MLOV)
7. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) joined the JwJ Steering Committee.

From the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee’s announcement earlier this week:
The Metro DC DSA Election Working Group has finalized a convention delegate list. The 29 delegates are listed in alphabetical order, and 3 alternate delegates listed in rank order.
 Ariana Ascherl
E. Vannessa Assae-Bille
Harry Baker
Mike Beckidge
Enrique Calvo
Brian Doyle
Chip Gibbons
Daniel Hafner
Chris Hicks
Allison Hrabar
Alexander Alberto Jiron
Stuart Karaffa
Jessie Mannisto
Zach Maril
Aaron Marks
Adam Marshall
James McCormack
Margaret McLaughlin
Samuel Myers
Sam Nelson
Erin Oakes
Chris Riddiough
Franklin Roberts
David Shen
Jacquelyn Smith
Gareth Sparks
Natarajan Subramanian
Christina Waggaman
Rob Wohl

Alternate Delegates
Carl Goldman
Judy Nedrow
Merrill Miller

GOOD READS: Here’s a permanent good read… IPS’s regular “Inequality” newsletter curated by Chuck Collins; check it out; find it here.

Sat June 17 Economic Justice committee meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Lamond Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave NE, Washington, DC 20011. Open to all. We will debrief on Jobs with Justice training on tactics and how to use them in our working groups' campaigns.
Sat Jun 17 Ally Event: SURJ and ONE DC are planning a family-friendly Juneteenth Celebration at Anacostia Park from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Dave Engel reports “This event is a fundraiser for ONE DC's Black Workers Center, a member-led space devoted to building racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action, and worker-owned alternatives. SURJ and ONE DC need volunteers for: Carrying things, setting up tents, grilling, food prep, supply runs, and cleanup. If you are interested, and can devote one or more hours to this on the 17th, contact Volunteer Coordinator Erik at erik.liam.blad@gmail.com.” Questions: contact Erik, or Dave at david.byron.engel@gmail.com
 Sun Jun 18  Socialist Feminism Reading Group  4 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.  Please read our Socialist Reading Groups: Participation Guide and join us as we explore and discuss topics within Socialist Feminism
Monday, June 19 CC&EJC Comprehensive Plan Meeting 5:30 – 7 p.m. with Empower DC
Join members of the Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee as we meet with Chris Otten of DC 4 Reasonable Development and Claudia Barragan of Empower DC to discuss amendments to the city's Comprehensive Plan. 
The Comprehensive Plan is a legislative and regulatory document that governs policy and actions around land use, economic development, housing, education, the environment, and more in here in the District. It is currently being amended midway through its 20 year life at the behest of developers and city officials intent on weakening it, following a set of lawsuits last year that will limit their ability to gentrify the city. 
Our meeting will focus on developing or supporting amendments to be submitted by the June 23rd deadline that align with the core principles of the coalition, including racial, economic, and environmental justice, housing as a human right, and preserving public assets equitably.

 Tue Jun 20 Grrl's Night  5:30 p.m. Mellow Mushroom, 2436 18th Street Northwest, Washington, DC  Come socialize at DC DSA Grrl's Night! Join other female-identifying and nonbinary comrades for happy hour and dinner. All ages welcome.
Sat Jun 24  Metro DC DSA Communications Committee Monthly Meeting  1:30 -3 p.m. Southeast Neighborhood Library  403 7th Street Southeast, Washington, DC (map)  Join our efforts on Metro DC DSA's presentation of self! Comms committee works on internal and external communications: newsletter/updates; social media; design;  brochures, website development and public and internal access to information. We schedule enjoyable and social off-meeting work sessions, too, to materially and collaboratively advance our work.
 Sun Jun 25  Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee - Education & Outreach Event     1 p.m.  Petworth Neighborhood Library   4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC .This is our Committee's monthly education & outreach event, for helping our members explore new environmental issues & socialist ideas in addition to those we may be organizing around at the moment. Agenda is in formation but check the Meetup link for updates.
Wed Jun 28  DSA Happy Hour 6:30 p.m. The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 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.

More paths to information:
Maryland peeps – you can get an email once a week from our allies at Progressive Maryland with calendar items and activism news by clicking here. You can sample the goods here.
Baltimore comrades, Check in on Max Obuszewski’s highly useful calendar and tip sheet at http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
To keep up with progressive events in and around DC consult the invaluable calendar at the Washington Peace Center, http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts

Categories: Political Parties

The Washington Socialist Weekly Update for June 9-15

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 21:01
Weekly Update for June 9-15
Updates on convention delegate election at June 11 member meeting; Pride March Sunday morning   
IMPORTANT CORRECTIONS to information in previous Update (May 26) and newsletter (June 1):
>>Metro DCDSA’s delegates to the DSA National Convention will be elected at the
general body meeting this Sunday, June 11th (not 10th).

>>Contrary to a previous statement, delegate nominations can take place up to the beginning of the election process; they were not cut off June 7.

Members have received separate emails about the election process and the general body meeting agenda with the correct information. They are included in full at the bottom of this Update.

Jeremy Corbyn! Just that…

Action item: June 13 the DC Council meets for a second vote on a budget. Among other things, it includes (so far) feasibility study money for a Public Bank, where city funds can be kept as opposed to in commercial banks such as Wells Fargo with unsavory holdings and ties. Several of our committees, including Economic Justice and Climate Change & Environmental Justice, are actively supporting the public bank measure as allies of DC Reinvest. See some details below in the report on the CC&EJ meeting. DCDSA members living in DC are urged to call or contact the councilmembers listed to urge keeping that $200,000 feasibility study allocation in the final budget.
Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) 202-724-8028 kmcduffie@dccouncil.us
David Grosso (at large) 202-724-8105 dgrosso@dccouncil.us

COMMITTEE REPORT: The DCDSA Environmental Justice Committee met Sunday, June 4 for an organizing meeting working on several campaigns that committee members are developing.
The group heard intros and quick summaries on the campaigns – watchdogging the developing DC Comprehensive Plan rewrite; allying with DC Reinvest (above) on a DC Public Bank project coupled with disinvestment campaigns from soiled commercial banks; remedying food deserts in impacted neighborhoods by developing food co-ops, and a proposal for an Environmental Community Works Program involving hands-on activism in beautification and cleanup.
The full committee then entered breakout groups.
>>The DC comprehensive plan agenda was outlined by DC for Reasonable Development reps and Sierra Club activists who focus on two plan chapters related to housing and the environment. An amendment period until June 23 offers opportunity for some progressive ones  More information on the process is here. There will be a citywide meeting of community groups on June 10th in Anacostia to discuss amendments, Contact David P and Andy F for more information and to get involved.
>>The breakout group for reinvestment/public banking agreed to work on ensuring that the public banking feasibility study funding stayed in the DC budget (above) and advocate for removing the city’s roughly $2 billion in Wells Fargo bank, infamous as a financier of pipelines. To participate contact Brian D and Alexander B.
>>The food desert breakout affirmed an involvement in a campaign to create and/or support grocery cooperatives. D.C. has a number of food deserts left unfilled by corporate grocers, so supporting grocery co-ops could allow us to put democratic management into practice while helping provide healthy, affordable food options to underserved communities in D.C. Contact Garrett S, Nick A, and Jacci S to get involved
>>And DCDSA activist Allen Firouz repped for efforts like park and river cleanups and beautification. Chains such as Ace and Home Depot have said they would donate tools and supplies for free for such projects. If interested in helping organize some great, worthwhile projects and activities across DC, please reach out to Allen F and Brian D.
The committee’s next meeting, Sunday, June 25, will be an educational session with presentations on matters of interest. The committee plans to meet twice a month, once to organize work and once to learn more.

(More information is at the individual Meetup links)

Sat Jun 10   DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10 a.m. This event is waitlisted Waitlist

Sun Jun 11  March for Equality 9 a.m. McPherson Square 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC (map)
 Info from longtime member and activist Christine Riddiough: "Mobilizing LGBTQ+ communities, our loved ones and our allies - with particular focus on those who have been actively silenced and neglected - in the fight to affirm and protect our rights, our safety and our full humanity."
The “Equality March for Unity & Pride” is a grassroots movement which will mobilize the diverse LGBTQ+ communities to peacefully and clearly address concerns about the current political landscapes and how it is contributing to the persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals.
And note this Statement from the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee on No Justice No Pride

Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America stands in solidarity with No Justice No Pride. We support their resistance to a corporate Capital Pride that excuses the destructive nature of capitalism on queer and trans individuals. We echo their call for a Capital Pride leadership not dominated by cisgender, white, upper-class men, and we stand with them to demand a Capital Pride free of police that put members of the community at risk.
In the spirit of Marsha P. Johnson, Metro DC DSA members will join No Justice No Pride on June 11th to promote the radical Pride that accomplished so much for the LGBTQ+ community. We encourage our members to look for updates on how to get involved.

Sun Jun 11  Metro DC DSA monthly membership meeting 3:30 p.m.  Friends Meeting of Washington 2111 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, DC (map) Dupont Circle metro is closest. More information at Meetup link above; agenda and delegate voting procedures appended to this Update, below.

Tue Jun 13   Health Care Working Group Meeting 6:30 p.m.  Northeast Neighborhood Library 330 7th Street Northeast, Washington, DC (map) We will be planning actions to respond to AHCA, a Health Care Town Hall, and efforts to push for single payer. Learn more

NOTE the June 13 National DSA Webinar, “What is Democratic Socialism” is now sold out.

Wed June 14 DCDSA Steering Committee meets 7 pm to 8:20 at Northeast Library meeting room. SC member Merrill Miller reports that this meeting will “discuss the topic of chapter fundraising [and] is open to all Metro DC DSA members.”  330 7th St NE, Washington, DC 20002.
Sat June 17 Economic Justice committee meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Lamond Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave NE, Washington, DC 20011. Open to all. We will debrief on Jobs with Justice training on tactics and how to use them in our working groups' campaigns.
Sat Jun 17 Ally Event: SURJ and ONE DC are planning a family-friendly Juneteenth Celebration at Anacostia Park from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Dave Engel reports “This event is a fundraiser for ONE DC's Black Workers Center, a member-led space devoted to building racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action, and worker-owned alternatives. SURJ and ONE DC need volunteers for: Carrying things, setting up tents, grilling, food prep, supply runs, and cleanup. If you are interested, and can devote one or more hours to this on the 17th, contact Volunteer Coordinator Erik at erik.liam.blad@gmail.com.” Questions: contact Erik, or Dave at david.byron.engel@gmail.com
Sun Jun 18  Socialist Feminism Reading Group 🌹  4 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.  Please read our Socialist Reading Groups: Participation Guide and join us as we explore and discuss topics within Socialist Feminism 🌹
Tue Jun 20 Grrl's Night  5:30 p.m. Mellow Mushroom, 2436 18th Street Northwest, Washington, DC  Come socialize at DC DSA Grrl's Night! Join other female-identifying and nonbinary comrades for happy hour and dinner. All ages welcome. Learn more
 Sun Jun 25  Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee - Education & Outreach Event     1 p.m.  Petworth Neighborhood Library   4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC .This is our Committee's monthly education & outreach event, for helping our members explore new environmental issues & socialist ideas in addition to those we may be organizing around at the moment. Agenda is in formation but check the Meetup link for updates.
Wed Jun 28  DSA Happy Hour 6:30 p.m. The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 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.

INFO FILE: Maryland activist Dr. Margaret Flowers on the genuine surge for Medicare for All here; Recent Sunkara talk at Shorenstein here; copious “Good Reads” in the June newsletter here.
Other paths to info:
Maryland peeps – you can get an email once a week from our allies at Progressive Maryland with calendar items and activism news by clicking here. You can sample the goods here.
Baltimore comrades, Check in on Max Obuszewski’s highly useful calendar and tip sheet at http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
To keep up with progressive events in and around DC consult the invaluable calendar at the Washington Peace Center, http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts

Metro DC DSA June General Body Meeting Agenda
June 11, 2017

Meeting Chair:Margaret McLaughlin Location:Friends Quaker Meeting Hall
Parliamentarian:Brian Wivell Time:3:30pm - 5:00pm

  1. Organizational Updates (10 min.)
    1. Steering Committee Introductions
    2. E&L transitioning to Operations - Zack Maril
    3. NoVA Proto Branch - James McCormack
    4. Tenants Know-Your-Rights Canvassing - Margaret McLaughlin
    5. Grrl’s Night 6/20 - Jacci Smith
  2. Priorities Discussion (30 min.)

    • Small Group Breakout
      • Discuss national campaigns

  3. Delegate Selection (50 min.)*
    • Slate presentations

    • Ballot Collection
      • Delegates will be announced at a later date
Allotted time: 1 hour 30 minutes
In preparation for the biennial DSA convention August 3-6 in Chicago, chapters must elect delegates who will represent them in votes on policies and procedures that National DSA will enact for the next two years.  Based on membership size, Metro DC DSA has been allotted 29 delegates and 3 alternates. We, the Steering Committee, propose the following procedural rules for the General Body Meeting (GBM) with the belief that they will ensure delegate selection is both democratic and efficient. If you have questions or comments, please contact a member of steering or email steering@dsadc.org.
We propose that delegate selection take place via slates. Slates, in this context, mean an individual OR group of 1-32 member(s) of DC DSA. To keep the election from running too long, there would not be a minimum nor a maximum on slate size. Chapter members may choose to run as a delegate up until voting procedure begins at the GBM on June 11th. While not necessary, it will help us allocate time on the agenda accurately if you could indicate your interest in attending the convention as a delegate here as soon as possible.
Delegate Election Working Group (EWG)
Much like the Steering Committee election, a group of DC DSA members will be empowered to act as the authority for running the election once procedure has begun. These individuals will not be able to run as a delegate in order to minimize personal conflicts of interest. In addition to this proposal, the Steering Committee will put forth suggested members at the beginning of voting procedure.
If you are not interested in attending the convention and would like to be a member of the Delegate Election Working Group, please contact a member of steering or email steering@dsadc.org.
Formation of Slates
To begin voting procedure, there will be ten minutes of time allocated for members of DC DSA to caucus and determine their slates. Slates will be exclusive, meaning one person can only be on one slate. A member of a slate does not have to physically present during the procedure, but each slate must have at least one representative physically present. If a member of a slate is not present, the representative must have some form of proof that the absent member assents to being part of the slate. After ten minutes, each slate must present a clearly legible list of its members. The EWG will then verify that each proposed slate is composed of members of DC DSA and follows all proposed rules.
Voting on Slates
Slates will be allotted 2 minutes each at the GBM to present their platform. Order of presentation will be chosen at random. The order will inform a corresponding slate number to be used in voting.
Once slates have presented, the general body membership will cast their ballots. Each member of DC DSA will choose their top five (5) slates on a secret ballot. The EWG will collect and tabulate ballots by ranked choice. Delegates will be chosen from highest-ranked onward and selection will stop when the slots have been filled. In the case that a slate must be split to satisfy the correct number of slots, the EWG will reach out to the slate to determine which slate members will become delegates.
Announcement of Delegates
At the end of voting procedure, all selected delegates will stand up in front of the membership.
Proposed Slates by Steering
The Steering Committee will put forth a slate of women/trans/nonbinary people and minorities to affirm representation of marginalized groups. To ensure agency, anyone on this slate is free to choose to leave and join another slate. The candidates on this slate are:
  • Enrique Calvo
  • Allison Hrabar
  • Judith Nedrow
  • Erin Oakes
  • Christine Riddiough
  • David Shen
  • Natarajan Subramanian
  • Elenore Wade
In order to ensure democratic accountability in allocating limited delegate slots, Steering Committee members who have nominated themselves/been nominated will also put themselves forward as a slate for the general membership to approve or reject in favor of other members.  It is not required that the Steering Committee serve as delegates, but historically, most SC members have attended the convention. The candidates on this slate are:

  • Marge McLaughlin
  • Jose Gutierrez
  • Merrill Miller
  • Jessie Mannisto
  • Zack Maril
  • Jacci Smith
To reiterate, candidates are opting-in to their own slates except for the non-Steering female/NB/minority and Steering slates, both of which are opt-out.
Rules submitted to the general body membership for vote, pass by assent, go from there.
Metro DC DSA Steering Committee

Categories: Political Parties

Welcome to the June 2017 issue of the Washington Socialist

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 14:08
This is the free monthly email newsletter of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America.
This great new look for the Washington Socialist is thanks to a design working group on the local's Communication Committee.

But one last note -- this new format is so great-looking that some inboxes might want to save some for your dessert. Check the end of the email to see if "this message has been clipped" and if so, click appropriately to see the rest.

SCROLL DOWN to find the list of this month's articles with summaries and links -- handy navigation help.

Not to make too big a deal of it but information transparency, central to any vision of a socialist society, is undergoing a disappearing act at the federal level similar to the one that typified the Reagan years.
It happens on two tracks. First you notice that the government is making less (even less than before!) information available. Next you notice that the government is showing a deep lack of interest in collecting information to impart – or to withhold.
Possibly more visible to all of us – because it’s the lifeblood of the media – is the cloaking of existing information, such as the disappearance of certain kinds of discussion from US government websites “for revision.” That was a strategy unavailable even to the Reagan TV wizard Michael Deaver.
As the Trump “skinny budget” proposal is analyzed, it’s becoming clear as well that departmental budget cuts are concentrating significantly on areas where information has traditionally been gathered, such as EPA and Labor. That echoes many of the Reagan practices in, for instance, the reign of Interior Department zealot James Watt, who wanted to know zilch about the externalities and all that.
There’s a certain symmetry in budget cuts across departments. Areas where cabinet agencies are supposed to monitor violations and punish them are ratcheted down on both sides – collection of information that indicates violations, and funding of staff levels for inspectors who would also be enforcers. As the cuts shake down in Labor, we should watch for an overall decline in OSHA impact on both those fronts, for instance.
That of course is if the budget plan is sustained as proposed, which fortunately appears unlikely. But the trend is pretty alarming to anyone who sees open information – and its uniform collection across states and locality – as a critical element of democracy, capitalist or not. Certainly exposing the cloaking or dissimulation of information about our economic arrangements is one of the most labor-intensive elements of bringing our socialism to a wider society.
Ronald Reagan’s cabinet-level assembly of business titans like Cap Weinberger and William French Smith was echoed in the mid-level agency appointees, and all of them embraced the gospel that the “perfect information” of the business-school case study was for us insiders alone, not for the consumers (or voters) we want to fleece. Reagan’s agencies famously ended many research programs and routine information activities that provided the ground for understanding the country and its peoples that they were supposed to govern.
That appears to be an historical avatar of the Trump ascendancy. “Before Trump, Ronald Reagan set the mark for bringing the most career businesspeople into the Cabinet. Four of Reagan’s initial 13 department heads in his first term were corporate executives,” notes the Pew Research Center. And ominously, both the Trump and Reagan regimes excused some of the information shutdown on the grounds that too much proprietary corporate information was being laid before the public.

The Memory Hole that all undemocratic regimes hope to nurture in a compliant people starts with losing an understanding of the society in which you live. Gathering and sharing information about the society keeps the Memory Hole at bay; cloaking both the gathering and the sharing brings the Orwell metaphor into the everyday.
The outrages that affect people immediately, and send us into the street, are critical moments for resistance and our socialist response corresponds importantly to the impulses of a wider civil-society pushback. But like refashioning the judiciary, demolition of the information base of governance cripples the options and opportunities for whatever improvements we can bring after Trump, however long his moment lasts.
-- Woody Woodruff
CONVENTION WARMUP… Our delegate call for this summer's DSA convention is getting plenty of responses. If you want to propose yourself for the delegate election, go here.The election is June 10 and cutoff date for self-nominations is June 7.

Statement from the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee on No Justice No Pride

Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America stands in solidarity with No Justice No Pride. We support their resistance to a corporate Capital Pride that excuses the destructive nature of capitalism on queer and trans individuals. We echo their call for a Capital Pride leadership not dominated by cisgender, white, upper-class men, and we stand with them to demand a Capital Pride free of police that put members of the community at risk. 

In the spirit of Marsha P. Johnson, Metro DC DSA members will join No Justice No Pride on June 11th to promote the radical Pride that accomplished so much for the LGBTQ+ community. We encourage our members to look for updates on to get involved.

Help DC DSA publish a socialist ‘zine by providing your content! Our theme is "A Socialist DC." Short for "magazine," zines are a fun, engaging way to bring our ideas to new audiences. The Omaha DSA chapter recently published a zine, "Building a Socialist Future", to great acclaim. The DC DSA Communications Committee is organizing the publication of our very own single-issue zine to distribute at the upcoming DC Zinefest and beyond to promote our vision of a fair, thriving, and Socialist DC.

If you want to submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics/visual art, or anything else for the zine, please send your pitch here by June 6th. If you have any questions about the zine, feel free to reach out to Hallie, halliejay@gmail.com

UPDATE ON DC BUDGET (from Enrique Calvo Tuesday night, May 30) “ ‘Full funding for Paid Family Leave is in the DC budget, and it passed through the first budget vote today in the DC Council! There will be a second vote in two weeks, and after that the mayor will approve/veto the entire budget. In each of these subsequent steps, it becomes less and less likely that the money is under threat.’ – Alli McCracken, DC Paid Family Leave ”
She goes on to say that there is still a ‘huge risk’ that the Paid Family Leave law will be repealed and replaced, but so far it's good news!”

(get updates at our Meetup page-- links here-- and watch for the Washington Socialist Weekly Updates, in your inbox June 9, 16 and 23).

Sat June 3 Racial Justice & Anti-Bigotry Committee    1:30 p.m.  Southwest Neighborhood Library, 900 Wesley Place SW, Washington, DC We will be going over our big new canvassing push for tenants' rights as well as planning future events.

Sunday, June 4 ROUND 2: Anti-Eviction Canvassing presented by Racial Justice and Anti-Bigotry Committee 3 p.m. – 6 at the We Work Wonder Bread Factory 641 S Street NW DC 20001  more here 
Sun Jun 4  Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee-Organizing Meeting 1 p.m. Southwest Library 900 Wesley Place SW, Washington D.C., DC This meeting will focus only on organizing campaigns our committee is looking into or undertaking. 

Sun June 4 Socialist Book Group Discussion 3 p.m. National Portrait Gallery Kogod Courtyard 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC (map) A discussion of On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman

Tuesday, June 6 We are excited to extend an invitation to a really great training hosted by DC Jobs With Justice, ATU Local 689, DC Democratic Socialists of America, Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO, and the Washington Teachers Union.
Building Tactics for a Successful Campaign,  5:30 - 8:30 p.m. AFL-CIO Gompers Room (815 16th St NW)  Food provided; need ID to enter the building -- RSVP HERE REQUIRED or email info@dcjwj.org to register  Do you need to put pressure on someone who can give you what you want? Is your organization up against a CEO or corporation that is putting profit OVER people? Are you tired of rallying and are you looking for new fun tactics you can do? This training is for you! During this training, our experienced trainers will review: - how to plan creative tactics in service of a campaign goal - how to define a demand for a campaign - how to think about primary and secondary targets -- Taking action is the lifeblood of good organizing. This training will help you and your members build skills on how to take action toward campaign victories. We encourage groups of people who are working together to attend, so that they can strategize about their campaign in a small group setting. 
RSVP for the training here

Saturday June 10 Metro DC DSA Organizing Workshop 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Want to build power? Want to organize? Then this is the workshop for you! Have you wanted to do organizing for DSA but haven't known where to start? We'll talk about the "organizing attitude" and the basics of an organizing conversation. We'll put those organizing tips to work and practice organizing conversations together. For now they will be small sessions of no more than 10 people but they will be reoccurring and frequent, so if you can't make this one, hope to see you at the next. These workshops will be good preparation for recruitment campaigns that are in development. 
Email Austin.Drake.Kendall@gmail.com to sign up. Prep material and location will be in reply.

Sat Jun 10  DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10 a.m. Waitlist
Connecticut Ave & Dupont Circle 19th Street Northwest, Washington, DC (map)
DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. Join longtime DC DSA member Bill Mosley for a three-hour tour of the District’s little-known places of radical significance and monuments to the history of progressive movements. Learn more
Sun Jun 11  Metro DC DSA monthly membership meeting 3:30 p.m.  Friends Meeting of Washington 2111 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, DC (map) RSVP  The Agenda will be set the week before the meeting. Dupont Circle Metro is the closest metro station. Learn more
Tues June 13 National DSA Webinar “What is Democratic Socialism” with Bill Barclay, 9:30 p.m. ET, more here.
Sun Jun 18  Socialist Feminism Reading Group 4:00 p.m. RSVP   at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, 8th and F Streets, NW Washington, D.C., (map) Join us as we explore and discuss topics within Socialist Feminism   
Tue Jun 20  Grrl's Night 5:30 p.m. RSVP it’s at the Mellow Mushroom 2436 18th Street Northwest, Washington, DC (map) Come socialize at DC DSA Grrl's Night! Join other female-identifying and nonbinary comrades for happy hour and dinner. All ages welcome. Learn more
Sun Jun 25  Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee - Education & Outreach Event
1 p.m. RSVP   Petworth Neighborhood Library 4200 Kansas Ave Nw, Washington, DC (map)
For more info on allied events consult the invaluable Peace Center Activist Alert Calendar http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts
ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE: lots of Maryland items, as it happens. DC and Nova, represent!….
The Communication Workers of America struck AT&T Mobile for three days in May, pushing back against an unwillingness to bargain on replacing an expired contract. John Grill details DCDSA’s support action of the CWA strike. Read complete article
DCDSA’s participation in the People’s Climate March April 29 was marked the previous night by a successful panel discussion on radical approaches to the politics of climate change response. Andy Feeney outlines the event (this article appeared first in the Weekly Update for May 12-18). Read complete article
Voices from Maryland: Progressive Maryland ally Dylan Shelton examines the degree to which campaign finance reform can fuel progressive change. Not without fighting on other fronts too, is his assessment. Read complete article
International Reach: DCDSA launched a discussion May 24 of our national organization’s connections with the Socialist International (SI) and whether or how to maintain them. There will be a vote on this at the summer’s DSA convention. Andy Feeney provides an account.  Read complete article
International Reach II: DCDSA member Enrique Calvo outlines his arguments for supporting, and maintaining a presence in, the Socialist International. Read complete article
A racist memorial persists outside RFK Stadium, more debris of the NFL team that shall not be named in this publication. Bill Mosley describes steps being taken to make sure the statue of team founder George Preston Marshall vanishes with the stadium’s probable demolition. Read complete article
Maryland Voices II: Rep. Anthony Brown replaces the popular and progressive Donna Edwards in Maryland’s District 4. A visit by activists finds he checks some progressive boxes but there are other areas where he needs pushing. Kurt Stand, one of the visitors, has a report. Read complete article
 DCDSA Committee Reports: Sam Knight and Lynne Williamson have collected reports on our committees’ activities in the last month. Read complete article
Maryland Voices III: Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland executive director (and DSA member) outlines his proposal for a Progressive Caucus that does electoral work both inside and outside party structures – and why the Democratic Party’s current deficits require this. Read complete article
And More Maryland: After five years of activists’ struggle a paid sick leave bill passes the state General Assembly with a veto-proof majority – but GOP Gov. Larry Hogan vetoes it anyway, delaying the inevitable override to next January. Woody Woodruff suggests this could backfire on the Guv and his 2018 election hopes. Read complete article
Books: Michael Bindner reviews Jonathan Smucker’s Hegemony How-to, a recent read by the DCDSA Socialist Book Group, with illustrations from local activism past. Read complete article
Good Reads for June are last but never least; recent online articles of a radical tenor that you may have missed first time around. Read complete article
Categories: Political Parties

DCDSA walks in solidarity with striking CWA workers

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 20:17
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By John Grill
The weekend of May 19th-21st, tens of thousands of Communications Workers of America (CWA) workers at AT&T Mobility went on one of the largest retail worker strikes in U.S. history.
The planned 3-day action was called as CWA workers have been working for months without a contract and AT&T—one of America's largest companies, which takes billions in profits—had insisted on cuts to worker benefits and the continuation of both the offshoring of jobs and the use of increasing numbers of "licensed reseller" stores which employ lower-paid, non-union workers. 
The strike sent a strong message to AT&T.  CWA has said there was a clear economic impact on the company, with many stores closing (including at least two in DC) and many customers turning away once they were told there was an active strike.  This was true throughout the US; the strike, "closed hundreds of stores nationwide, left call centers unstaffed and critical network tickets not dispatched until Monday."  The union also reports that AT&T has begun complying with requests for information vital for reaching an agreement, something they had refused to do prior to the strike.
DSA solidarity with CWA strikers was strong and evident at picket lines both in DC and across the country.
Negotiations with AT&T remain ongoing and DSA stands ready to continue supporting workers as they fight for good jobs and a better future.  To help, be to be ready to hear from DC DSA about future informational pickets, as well as following Unity @ Mobility (Twitter, Facebook, Website) for updates from CWA.

Categories: Political Parties

Can campaign finance reform be the cornerstone of a progressive movement?

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 20:11
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Dylan Shelton
If you’ve been to any progressive function in your community you’ve probably witnessed the following: a person (often male, often older and often white) [BM1] faces the crowd and argues, “All of the things we’re talking about are great, but unless we get money out of our elections, we’re stuck with the same representatives corrupted by corporate money.”
The notion that politicians are uniquely positioned to fall under corporate influence is nothing new in America (think Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). Americans interested in reforming campaign finance has grown since the disastrous Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision. The problem is, despite the growth in interest, almost no one thinks it’s the most pressing issue facing Americans. [2] And for the progressive left that advocates for a constitutional amendment implementing campaign finance reform, this could be a problem.
This isn’t to say getting corporate cash out of elections sidetracks the left; Howard County and other places that are fighting hard for public financing of elections should be congratulated and emulated. However, the left should critique the particular style of advocacy campaign finance reform activists engage in and seriously confront its structural and ideological blind spots. Doing so will help determine whether it deserves a prominent place in our organizing for a mass movement aimed at creating a radically progressive political environment.
Campaign finance reform activists claim that the progressive reforms we hope to achieve in the areas of environment, social, and economic justice are all stymied by entrenched politicians empowered by corporate cash. They argue that calling for a constitutional convention to create an amendment that limits the ability of corporations to shell out money for elections will mean new politicians with fresh visions of the future and more beholden to their voters.
It should be questioned whether this claim and strategy will pave the way for progressive reform or could serve to embolden a truly transformative left political movement. From the outset, one can see the strategy as problematic because it presumes all social and political change occurs through the political process.
A look at the historical record shows that some of the most substantial changes to American life have been radical actions, often illegal at the time, and perpetrated by a collective struggle engaging masses of people. The catalyst for change has not happened by petitions, bills or political processes but by sit-in strikes, illegally sitting at a lunch counter, or other organizing methods often ended by the swing of a police baton.
Viewed through this lens, the political process is frequently a reaction by the ruling class to placate the actions of a revolutionary underclass. Consider the labor movement and civil rights movement. The 1934 Wagner Act cemented the right to join a union and collectively bargain, but bureaucratized the process of workplace struggle and prioritized commerce (i.e. the ongoing functioning of capitalism) rather than the rights of the worker. A. Philip Randolph’s 1963 speech to the crowds at the March on Washington demanded serious leftist reforms to the nation for “jobs and freedom.” For instance, Randolph proclaimed:
     “And we know that we have no future in a society in which 6 million black and white     people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty. Nor is the goal of our civil rights revolution merely the passage of civil rights legislation. Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them. Yes, we want a Fair Employment Practice Act, but what good will it do if profit-geared automation destroys the jobs of millions of workers black and white?”
None of the above sentiment was adequately represented in the civil rights legislation that later passed through the political process. Proceeding through political channels actually weakens, and acts against, the intentions of a more radical movement demanding equality and freedom.
Not only is the path taken by the common campaign finance activist a poor conduit for their goal, but also the goal itself is narrowly limited to the function of money in politics. If the end point is to remove the influence of corporations, or “The 1%,” from politics by political means, then it is worth remembering the words of feminist-anarchist Lucy Parsons:
“Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.”
Counting politicians as among the other resources hoarded by the wealthy, one can hardly expect them to sit idly by and watch as their wealth is democratically expropriated from them. Even if they did, their money is like water and will leak through barriers, finding the path of least resistance back into the political process through new or unexpected channels.
Most of the channels we already know. Politicians disproportionately come out of professions and backgrounds that make them independently wealthy. From the founding of the nation, politics has been a place for people of wealth and prestige to widen the scope of their power. In Maryland, we know particularly well the woes of independently wealthy businesspeople like David Trone, Kathleen Matthews and the current governor injecting their own money into their campaigns.
Besides the independently wealthy, the groups advocating for campaign finance reform don’t have much to say about the institutions set up to protect incumbents. The DNC and DCCC have grown to gargantuan sizes in recent years, flush with cash from corporate funders. The express goal of these institutions is to protect establishment Democrats. There are also independent corporations that exist for the sole purpose of aiding party institutions in campaigns by selling their consulting experience, or digital voter targeting information. Both are immensely powerful tools protecting deep-pocketed or entrenched politicians, and campaign finance reform does not touch them.
Finally, politicians overwhelmingly get their public policy proposals, advice, and studies from think tanks funded by the same interests we hope to target by campaign finance reform. These think tanks control the narrative of what policies are possible and which are not. They work, in some instances directly, for particular corporations, international capital, or private wealth and there is no sizeable leftist, anti-capitalist replacement for them currently in existence. This is a prime example of how getting money out of politics would not be a substantial step towards progressive policy, the same institutions would be writing, studying and proposing legislation funded by the very same interests seeking status quo.
Getting money out of politics doesn’t change the structures and institutions within which politicians operate. A conservative Democratic Party elite, corporations supplying campaign logistics, and the same think tanks promoting neoliberal solutions would still exist to bolster a status quo politician in elections and afterwards. The left would not necessarily be closer to implementing legislation bringing about social, environmental, and economic justice.
Refusing corporate money is a sign of deeply held progressive values, and the left should get behind those politicians who expose that belief. But we also need candidates who can continue our organizing for an end to oppression and future of radical equality in the political sphere.
We should recognize that real radical change occurs when a person understands both their place in society and the material realities impeding their access to a decent life -- and fights back collectively. Advocating for getting money out of politics using procedural methods can’t do this but collective action aimed at a transforming what people think is possible can; it’s the politicians who get behind such actions who are worth our attention.

Dylan Shelton is a Montgomery County activist and member of the Progressive Maryland Economic Security Team. This first appeared in the Progressive Maryland PM BlogSpace.

Categories: Political Parties

DCDSA straw poll backs observer status in Socialist International

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 19:35
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Andy Feeney
It's too bad Enrique Calvo (see related article, this issue) didn't attend the May 24 DCDSA event where a mix of more than 30 old and new DSAers, both women and men, debated what our relationship to the Socialist International should be.  It was an interesting and informative discussion, and I think it changed the minds of many who attended.
After Margaret McLaughlin's introduction, Chip Gibbons spoke at length about the bad, "neo-liberal," pro-capitalist policies that many SI member parties have followed in recent years, and made a lengthy case that DSA is getting little or nothing from continued membership in the organization.
Jack Clark, who spoke in favor of DSA maintaining an observer status with the SI, agreed with Gibbons that many current SI members, although not all, are today far from being "socialist" in anything but their names.  He also agreed with many SI critics in DSA, both here in the Metro DC area and elsewhere, who have said that DSA can and should find ways to continue our relationships with the better parties who belong to the SI. 
But Clark concluded that DSA doesn't need to maintain paid membership status in the SI in order to do this, and he concluded that we should not remain full members, but only commit to an observer status.
There appeared to be surprisingly little disagreement with Clark's position, in this writer’s estimate.  Several of the more pro-SI people present, including Clark and Chris Riddiough, pointed out that the SI sometimes has taken progressive positions in recent years, and that DSA members have made some useful contacts with socialists in various other countries through the medium of the SI. 
But even the SI's defenders agreed that we needn't remain full SI members to enjoy these benefits, and there seemed to be agreement in the room -- except for the points that Calvo raised in his letter, which was read aloud in his absence -- that most new and existing DSA members are not particularly interested in the SI one way or another. 
In reply to questions about whether leaving the SI could split DSA, and whether most new members are attracted to DSA thanks to our being the SI's official member party in the US, even those pro-SI members present replied that our leaving the group would not be a major factor in how DSA operates going forward.  "If you asked the average person on the street whether DSA should stay in the SI, I think most people wouldn't know what you were talking about,"  Riddiough commented.
There was a bit of parliamentary argle-bargle toward the end of the meeting over the details of how we should organize the vote on this issue.  However, we ended with a plurality voting to retain membership status in the SI, while about a quarter of those present opted to leave entirely.  Roughly a quarter abstained.  No one present supported the option of DSA remaining a paid member within SI. A count later tweeted by Deputy National Director David Duhalde, who was in attendance, was "The results: 16 stay - 9 leave - 7 abstain."
If Washington Socialist readers will excuse a bit of personal editorializing, I would like to argue that in leaving SI -- if that's what DSA as a national organization decides to do -- we should pay our back dues to SI, which are currently in arrears.  These amount to just a few thousand dollars.
I think it does no credit to DSA as an organization if we seem to be leaving the SI partly in order to default on our debts.  I hold with Antonio Gramsci, a thinker greatly admired by Michael Harrington, who argued that to win the battle for socialism, leftists urgently need establish our own "counter-hegemony" against the powers that be.  I think this means we need to strive for a public reputation as more moral than the capitalists, as well as more truthful and more intelligent. 
If we seem to be dropping out of the SI for petty financial reasons, we hurt our own efforts to build a more hegemonic DSA.  Let's find some way to send SI the sums we owe, even if we don't want to continue supporting the organization.
The April 2017 report and fact sheet of the Internationalist Committee of National DSA is here.

Categories: Political Parties

Response to DSA Internationalism Committee April 2017 Report

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 19:15
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017

By Enrique Calvo

           The DSA Internationalism Committee released a report in April proposing that the Democratic Socialists of America either sever ties with or downgrade their status in the Socialist International. The rationale of the Committee can be boiled down to four arguments: (1) that internationalism costs money, (2) that the DSA should disassociate itself from the policies and programs of the International, (3) that the DSA should disassociate itself from the austerity and neoliberal policies of parties affiliated to the International in an effort to appease competing parties outside the International such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany and SYRIZA in Greece and (4) that the International and the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) routinely ignore the DSA and YDS. These arguments are factually problematic or otherwise unconvincing.
            By the Committee’s own calculations, our international commitments will be around 1% of the DSA national budget in 2017 and 2018. By the Committee’s own admission, budgetary considerations are not a substantial argument. This is a question of political will, not resources.
            The Committee suggests that the policies and programs of the International should be rejected despite offering no example of any policy or program of the International that is objectionable. On the contrary, the XXV Congress of the International in March approved resolutions that call for the independence of Puerto Rico, call for recognition of the State of Palestine, call for ending the blockade of Gaza, call for ending discrimination against non-Jews in Israel, condemn Israeli violations of international humanitarian law, condemn undemocratic constitutional changes in Mauritania, amend the statutes of the International to have equality between men and women in all levels of the organization, call for Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide, condemn Trump’s border wall, call for convening an Ibero-American Summit in Mexico to coordinate against Trump, call for the release of thousands of political prisoners in Turkey and so on and so forth. The DSA should be able to comfortably support all these policies plus others that the XXV Congress approved in March. The XXV Congress even approved a lengthy, detailed resolution of self-criticism condemning how neoliberal globalization benefited few in the name of many and calling on socialist parties to reclaim economic equality as their goal.
            The picture that the Committee paints of the DSA becoming discredited by association with the austerity and neoliberal policies of some International-affiliated parties is factually lacking. Far from wanting nothing to do with the PSOE in Spain and the SPD in Germany, the main demand that Podemos and Die Linke have of the PSOE and SPD, respectively, are to be open to coalitions at the national level. The parties already form several coalition governments at the regional level, including some coalitions where Podemos or Die Linke head the governments. Moreover, Pedro Sánchez just won the primaries in the PSOE this May on a platform of working together with Podemos at the national level and the SPD is now also open to a national coalition government with Die Linke for the first time since German reunification. Meanwhile, we have seen SYRIZA continue austerity measures and neo-liberal policies in Greece after taking power and we have seen the left wings of the Labour Party in the U. K. and the PS in France win the most recent leadership election in their parties. These developments discredit the notion that parties affiliated with the International have abandoned socialism and call into question the dichotomy that the Committee sees between International-affiliated parties and other leftist parties.
            Finally, the Committee bemoans, perhaps rightly, a lack of interaction between the DSA/YDS and the International/IUSY. Lack of international coordination is not a reason to betray the core socialist principle of internationalism. Instead, we must make the investment to reengage with the International and celebrate internationalism at home. Let us not forget that our affiliation with the International is one of our best recruitment tools. We are not only the largest socialist organization in the United States, but we are the only socialist organization in the States affiliated with the International besides the Puerto Rican Independence Party. As a small organization, the DSA greatly benefits from the added legitimacy that affiliation with the International conveys.

These remarks were read to the May 24 DCDSA discussion about membership in the SI (see related article in this issue).

Categories: Political Parties

Group plans movement, rally to remove statue honoring racist NFL team founder

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 18:22
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017

By Bill Mosley
One of Washington’s least-known monuments sits just outside Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. The 10-foot tall red granite slab, on a walkway leading to the stadium — once DC’s mecca for football and baseball, now about to be abandoned by its last occupant, the DC United soccer team — bears the image of George Preston Marshall.

For those who are not historians of Washington professional sports, Marshall was once the owner of Washington’s professional football team, the one that now plays at FedEx Field in Landover and bears the nickname that many Native Americans regard as a racial slur against themselves. Indeed, it was Marshall who chose the moniker while the team played in Boston and retained it when he brought the squad to the District in 1937.

One could excuse Marshall for selecting a racially insensitive nickname in a less-enlightened age, when no one blinked at team names, logos, and mascots that stereotyped and demeaned Native Americans. Even today, the Atlanta Braves’ fans cling to the tomahawk chop and the Cleveland Indians to grinning Chief Wahoo, so one could conclude that giving a team a name in the 1930s that is considered offensive to Natives today does not necessarily peg Marshall as a racist.

However, there is more to Marshall’s racial resume than a team name. The NFL integrated in 1946, one year before major league baseball, but even after every other team in the league employed African American players, Marshall’s team remained lily-white until 1962, and he buckled only under pressure from the Kennedy administration, which threatened to revoke the team’s lease on its federally owned stadium (then called DC Stadium) unless it changed its policy of racial exclusion.

More than a half-century later, a full-throated campaign is underway to pressure the team to change its racist moniker. Since 2015, the grassroots organization Rebrand Washington Football (RWF) has been circulating petitions to demand a name change; by the end of this May the group had collected over 4,000 signatures and made two trips to team headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, to deliver them to team officials. A petition-delivery trip last December included several Native American activists. However, Daniel Snyder, the current team owner, has declined to even discuss a name change. “We’ll never change the name,” he said in an interview. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

RWF, while continuing the petition campaign, has now also turned its attention to the Marshall monument. With DC United pulling out of RFK next year and moving to its new home at Buzzard Point, the old stadium is slated for demolition. The DC government has announced plans  for the site that include multipurpose athletic fields, a food market, and an indoor sports complex, along with a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy. The plan doesn’t preclude also building a new football stadium there, and Snyder is eyeing the site for a replacement for his own aging FedEx Field. But one thing is for certain: When RFK goes, a decision will have to be made about the fate of the Marshall monument. But what?

In a time when monuments across the country to a shameful racist past are being retired to the dustbin of history — the Confederate flags, the statues of Rebel leaders (such as took place in New Orleans last month) — RWF argues that the only appropriate fate of the Marshall monument is to be removed from our community. Events DC, the DC agency that controls RFK Stadium and the monument, has suggested the monument might be relocated, with DC taxpayers possibly picking up the tab. It would cost an estimated $30,000 to relocate the monument to Marshall’s hometown of Grafton, West Virginia, one of the possible sites, but the town told RWF representatives that it doesn’t want it. Several other potential recipients of the monument, including the Washington football team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, declined to accept it. But if Events DC should find someone who wants the monument but doesn’t want pay for the shipping, DC taxpayers might be ponying up to preserve a monument to a racist past. Given the District’s need for more money for education, affordable housing, health care and other urgent priorities, do we really want to spend $30,000 to preserve a monument to a segregationist? If DC really has that sum to spare, it could provide permanent supportive housing to a chronically homeless person for more than a year, or provide iPads for 80 DC public school students.

"RFK Stadium bookends the story of integration in major US sports,” said Ian Washburn, a founder of RWF. “Marshall hindered such efforts for 15 years after the debut of Jackie Robinson. We know this site could host a better future without Marshall's presence. We look forward to Events DC making the correct decision to remove the monument."

Categories: Political Parties

Health care, Middle East issues are focus in visit to new MD Dist. 4 Rep. Anthony Brown

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 18:11
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017

By Kurt Stand

Rep.Anthony Brown was elected to Congress last November to fill the seat that had been occupied by Donna Edwards prior to her unsuccessful run for the Senate. Edwards had been one of the more progressive members of Congress, winning her seat in an insurgent campaign against a Democratic  incumbent who had voted for the war in Iraq. Thereafter she continued to be a critic of unbridled militarism and took a far more even-handed approach to Israel-Palestinian issues than most members of Congress. The combination of having challenged an incumbent Democrat and refusing to march in lockstep with those who reject all criticism of Israel meant that her relationship to the Democratic power structure was lukewarm at best --  during last year’s Democratic primary, that establishment almost universally supported the very mainstream Chris Van Hollen over her. The fact that most statewide political leaders who claimed that it was important to support a woman for president failed to support her, the fact that most black office holders refused to support the first African American woman to run as a major party candidate for Senate in the state, reflects the difficulty faced in efforts to make the Democratic Party a vehicle for change.
For those who live in Prince George’s County (the center of Brown’s district) support for Brown from the Democratic establishment raises the question of where he will stand on the issues. He made a promising start when he spoke at a town hall meeting sponsored by Progressive Cheverly on April 6. In response to questions posed from the floor, Brown spoke of the need to preserve and protect the gains in health coverage made during the Obama Administration, a pledge he has kept by joining other Democrats and some few Republicans in opposing the deeply reactionary legislation proposed and passed in the House and now up for consideration in the Senate. Brown has also distinguished himself by being a co-sponsor of Conyers' Medicare for All( HR676) bill, unlike most House Democrats (Rep. Steny Hoyer, the senior member of the Maryland Democrats in Congress, has refused to support universal health care). Serving on the Ethics Committee, he has also pledged to hold the Trump administration to account. A bill he has co-sponsored that defines (and thus limits) the grounds for presidential firing of an FBI director is a step in that direction. He also spoke knowledgeably about labor rights and in particular of the need to defend federal employees whose union and workplace rights are currently under threat by the Trump administration. Several people asked about climate change and environmental protection, and he spoke of the positive work done by the O’Malley administration in Maryland (Brown had served as lieutenant governor) and he said he would build on that legacy while in Congress.
Responding to a question about his loss in the Maryland gubernatorial race to Republican Larry Hogan in 2014, Brown acknowledged that a principal cause was the weakness of the Democratic Party at the grassroots, by implication, the same reason Trump is now in the White House. He said that the Democratic Party needed to be closer to communities and that communities need to put pressure on elected officials, himself included. Part of carrying out that commitment is keeping his office open and accessible to the public; he has also followed through on that. Only in one arena has he disappointed so far, albeit it an important one, and that is around the question of peace in the Middle East.
A group including representatives from Jewish Voice for Peace DC Metro, Maryland affiliates of Peace Action, Prince George's County Peace and Justice Coalition, and Progressive Cheverly and Metro DC Democratic Socialists met with Brown at his office in Largo, Maryland, on April 21 (three DSA members were part of the delegation). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the importance of US policy taking into account Palestinian rights and needs. The question arose because Brown, along with Rep. Jamie Raskin and all the other Democratic members of Congress from Maryland, joined with Republicans last January in voting to criticize President Obama’s decision not to veto a UN resolution criticizing Israel’s policy of building settlements on the land that it seized and has illegally occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The vote against Obama’s action was a vote for US unilateralism, for maintenance of a status quo that has given us endless wars, and for a continuation of the denial of Palestinian rights. Moreover, it was an action that moves against the renewal of the Democratic Party from the base up. Change will never happen without a determined peace policy.
Unfortunately, shortly after the meeting, Brown agreed to co-sponsor legislation undermining the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Modeled on the successful campaign waged by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS movement is a form of nonviolent civic action by Palestinians, and the Israeli government and its supporters  oppose the movement with fervor. Attempting to penalize BDS supporters has a chilling effect on civil liberties even beyond the specifics of the campaign for Palestinian rights. Boycotts that inflict economic harm on businesses or governments have been an important tool of labor and social justice movements, from the bus boycott in Montgomery to the United Farm Workers grape boycott to the recent boycott against the state of North Carolina because of its anti-transgender bathroom law. Such connections show the danger to civil rights when militarism is unquestioned; by reason of making that connection an anti-BDS measure was defeated this past session in Maryland.
            During his talk in Cheverly, Brown cited an anecdote told him by Rep. James E. Clyburn in South Carolina about a lone freed slave holding a broom, confronting a troop of Confederate soldiers at the end of the Civil War. The officer asked if she thought the she could stop them alone with her broom; her reply was no, but you will know I took a stand. An inspiring story meant to remind us that it is important to continue to stand up for what we believe, even in the face of defeat. It is only through organizing that some Trump and Ryan initiatives have been defeated to date, despite Republican control of all branches of government. Thus, we should follow Brown’s advice and continue our activism at the local level by supporting him where he takes a progressive stance and challenging him in areas where we differ. Only in this way can we lay the groundwork for the political alternative we need.

Categories: Political Parties

Gentrification struggle and CWA strike support among DCDSA committee activities in May

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 18:05
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Sam Knight and Lynne Williamson
Low-income renters, overwhelmingly people of color, are being priced out of their homes in Washington, DC at an increasing rate.
Almost two-thirds of the poorest Washingtonians spend more than half their income on rent, according to a DC Fiscal Policy Institute report released late last year[CT1] . The study found that this figure was up significantly in the last decade—to 62 percent from 50 percent.
The trend has led to the whitening of what was once more widely known as Chocolate City. In 2011, black people lost their majority status in Washington for the first time in more than five decades.
Members of the Racial Justice Committee are seeking to help stem this ongoing displacement by reaching out to those at risk of eviction. On Sunday, after a training session, about 19 committee members reached out to 60 households facing the loss of their homes.
Members had “over a dozen conversations,” according to one organizer, in a bid to extend committee advice and resources. Canvassing efforts reached households in Columbia Heights, Brightwood, Michigan Park, Anacostia, and Fort Stanton.
The outreach is being done “to fight or delay their eviction,” another committee member said. Economic Justice Committee members are also helping with the initiative.
Male supremacy reinforces a system of hierarchy that ensures order and control through a sexual division of labor that benefits capitalism.
This was one aspect of the status quo discussed at a recently formed reading group organized by the Socialist Feminist Committee. Members of the committee, a venue for education, recently talked about the matter in discussions on its first assigned readings.
The text [CT2] covered the committee's foundational principle: patriarchy and capitalism are inextricably interdependent.
At its next meeting, the group is planning on covering the historical roots and persistent oppressive effects for women. Discussions are slated to include scientific research on the myth of "biological determinism."
In another effort to cultivate discussion about socialism's natural affinity with feminism, the committee is planning a regular women-only “GRRL's Night Out.”
The gathering is set to be modeled after chapter happy hours, though planners are aiming to secure a venue that allows for members who are younger than 21 years old. Activities for the event may include games and maybe crafting.

* * *
Efforts to foster public education about local anti-abortion disinformation campaigns are continuing apace.
The Socialist Feminist Committee is researching specific approaches to raising awareness of anti-choice misrepresentations by Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Tactics being explored include the publication of informational fliers and potential canvassing for yard signs in neighborhoods adjoining the centers.
The committee has also helped increase some access to abortion for low income women by raising over $2,100 for those who can't afford reproductive healthcare. The haul surpassed organizers' expectations. They had been hoping to originally raise $500, and eventually upped that goal to $1,500.
The money was raised as part of an annual cross-country Bowl-a-thon, organized by the National Network of Abortion Funds. The DC Abortion Fund organized the initiative locally.

The righteous anger that has gripped the electoral political arena in recent months spilled over into the labor market last weekend, after throngs of AT&T and DIRECTV workers walked off the job.

Led by the Communications Workers of America, about 40,000 employees for the telecoms giants launched a three-day strike to protest meager benefits and job insecurity.
Retail operations were closed by the actions, which impacted outlets across 36 states and Washington DC, according to the CWA.
Members of the Economic Justice Committee picketed with workers in Washington at AT&T stores throughout the city—in Dupont Circle and Gallery Place, among other locations.
“The feelings of solidarity were incredible, with CWA members handing DSA members the bullhorn to lead chants,” one committee organizer said.
AT&T and DIRECTV workers are asking their managers to offer better benefits and wages. They're also protesting the precarity of their employment situation and company plans to outsource jobs.

The Economic Justice Committee also recently stood in solidarity with restaurant workers who were fired for organizing on the job.
Several members took part in a “tip-in” at the Matchbox in Chinatown to protest against management's decision to terminate five workers seeking to exercise their collective bargaining rights. The employees were fired after trying to organize against unsafe conditions in the back of the house.
“The 'tip-in' involved being seated, not ordering food, but leaving the server a tip, so that their wages would not be impacted by a picket,” one committee member explained.
After disrupting Matchbox's meal service, participants demonstrated outside the restaurant where they chanted and sang in English and Spanish. Humor was also injected into the demonstration when protesters repeatedly proclaimed: “No justice, no pizza!”
The action was organized by the Restaurant Opportunities Center.

Categories: Political Parties

A Progressive Caucus can reform -- or replace -- the Democratic Party

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:40
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Larry Stafford
Progressives in the United States have long sought a resolution to the often disappointing status quo of our current two party system. The Democrats, while being able to claim the role of the mainstream, electorally viable party of the left, have often disappointed our movement. The top level leadership of the party has often surrendered in the face of demands from large corporate interests and the wealthy elite of our country. This history of capitulation has been devastating to our economy, our environment, and our democracy. In addition to this, the party has an inconsistent record in delivering for its most loyal constituencies including African Americans, Latinos, the LGBT community etc. While disappointed, we on the left and members of the party’s diverse base have often been willing to stomach many of the party’s failings because the alternative has been much worse.
While the Democratic Party has often disappointed, it has served as a useful vehicle for a great deal of progress. From increasing access to healthcare, to combating climate change, to advances in LGBT rights, the Democrats have not been all bad. As the mainstream party alternative, Republicans have managed to play an almost completely adversarial role in many of these fights and have openly stood in opposition to progressive reform efforts. The fear of electing Republican officials has managed to keep many within the ranks of the Democratic Party. However, neither of these parties has truly represented the values and aspirations of many Americans. Neither party has advocated for the kinds of robust systemic changes our country and the people of the world need, such as radical shifts away from fossil fuel production, reparations for slavery, and an economy controlled by working class people. Perhaps the fact that neither party can truly claim to represent the interests of much of the population can explain the growing number of registered independents, voter apathy, and increasing interest in third party alternatives.
Third parties such as the Green Party have been in much greater alignment ideologically with most progressives. The Greens have proposed bolder reforms than most Democrats have been willing to commit to and their vision has been able to capture the hearts and minds of many progressives throughout the country. However since 1890 both of the two mainstream parties have enacted laws that have made it all but impossible for a third party to make significant electoral gains. Both Republicans and Democrats have supported ballot signature requirements, unreasonable filing deadlines, and vote performance requirements which have made third parties devote far too many resources to simply maintaining their existence. These laws, created by and for the parties in power, have put progressive third parties at a dramatic disadvantage. Secondly, while support for our current two party system seems to be fading, it remains a significant part of our political culture and heritage as party affiliation is passed down within families like genes from parent to child. Many who should make up the base for a new progressive political party are culturally invested in the Democratic Party. In fact the numbers demonstrate this, as the number of registered Democrats far exceeds the total combined registration of any progressive third parties by far. Thus the path to progressive electoral victory and governing power in places where these conditions exist likely does not lie in creating new third parties. However this doesn’t mean that we should accept the status quo. Recent developments demonstrate the contrary, and the path to power for progressives lies less with party politics and more with building powerful progressive political formations outside of the context of any political party.
It’s time for us to look at parties differently in two principal ways. One, the two dominant political parties of our day have changed drastically over time. Republicans have transitioned from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of Theodore Roosevelt and later Ronald Reagan. The Democrats have evolved from the party of Andrew Jackson, to Franklin Roosevelt, and then Bill and Hillary Clinton. Over time parties have not only changed in terms of their elected leaders, but they have been shown to change ideologically as well. Parties in the United States contain multiple competing factions from Ron Paul Libertarianism in the Republican Party to Elizabeth Warren’s populist progressivism. The two dominant parties are not ideologically consistent political organizations, but instead vehicles for organized political factions. Parties are empty vessels that are filled by the dominant actors within them at any given time. Secondly, parties are simply a vehicle to obtain advantageous legal access to appear on a ballot. To run as a Democrat or a Republican does not necessarily dictate what ideas and principles you must represent. You can likely guess where someone stands on certain issues based on their party affiliation, but there is no law that guarantees that a candidate of a certain party will vote a particular way or believe in any set of values. Primaries are the process by which the voters in a particular party decide who is most closely aligned with their values. However, party membership in the United States does not require any litmus test on values or beliefs and therefore party voters often vote on factors outside of any coherent set of values in their primaries.
The existing two parties have consolidated their hold on the politics of today by protecting themselves with election law and practices that keeps their potential competition off balance. But that history has also left them hollowed out and without value as vehicles of positive political principles, for good or ill. How can progressives effectively mobilize power, including electoral power, in this political environment?

We need a new path forward to achieve political power as progressives. Parties have been the most commonly understood vehicles for organizing politics in the United States, but they are not our only option, and pursuing party politics alone, whether it’s taking over the Democratic Party or starting a third party, severely limits our pursuit of political power, as we have seen. [link to part I] Now is the time to build independent political organizations that exist outside of the realm of any political party, but use the party ballot lines that are most advantageous. In some ways this was the radical approach of Senator Bernie Sanders who, while not being a member of the Democratic Party, chose to use the Party’s ballot line to boost his Presidential campaign. Pieces of this new path forward were also a part of Donald Trump’s bigoted campaign for President as he denied basic tenets of his chosen party’s orthodoxy and has identified as both a Democrat and a Republican over a number of years. However, by pursuing this path with an independent political organization that is organized for the long term advancement of progressive values and candidates, determined activists wielding this strategy can achieve even more powerful results. 
Caucuses are a potential alternative to traditional party politics for independent political organizations. Caucuses have been a way for elected officials to organize themselves around common values and interests within legislative bodies outside of a party apparatus. Caucuses such as the Freedom Caucus have even been able to hijack the political process and the Republican Party to drive a far-right conservative world view. The New York Independent Democratic Caucus in New York has leveraged its independence in the New York Senate to cede control to conservative and Republican policy positions. In addition to this there are local and national Progressive Caucuses in legislative bodies such as the New York City Council, where its Progressive Caucus has been able to drive a progressive agenda for the city. In fact, within legislative bodies parties exist merely as caucuses themselves with the actual party being the outside political apparatus. Progressives can replicate this already existing strategy and expand it to create a viable third party option without the obstacles of creating an entirely new party with its own ballot line. This strategy does not need to be limited to legislative officials, but members of executive bodies can join and associate with caucus organizations. We can also expand this concept by using existing electoral campaign infrastructure to create an alternative to the Democratic Party as an electoral organization. Strengthening our caucus presence, in the meantime, allows those already in elected office to pursue more radical policies with less risk of martyrdom. And where there are existing progressive caucus formations we can strengthen them with candidate recruitment and street-level efforts while building in real ideological coherence where it is lacking.
In order to choose who will represent the interests of progressive voters we may also use a caucus voting system that can help our base of voters choose nominees to compete in primaries. This kind of process can be executed outside of the state’s electoral system and help to unite progressives around candidates that have the most support from the progressive base while avoiding the division of progressive votes between progressive candidates in party primary races. To achieve this, Progressive Caucus politicians must register new members to join the Caucus and participate in its caucus primary process. The process itself will be governed by rules that ensure that it is democratic, fair, accessible, and transparent.
 In order for this idea to succeed and not fall into the same traps as the existing party organizations it cannot be wholly owned and controlled merely by its politicians. The Caucus must provide a means by which the grassroots can engage and make decisions so that the caucus truly becomes a democratic organization driven and empowered by its base. Membership in both mainstream parties is mostly meaningless beyond Election Day. However, membership in the caucus must expand beyond voting for nominees and the participation of elected officials to an active membership role for unelected Progressive Caucus members who will help to create and drive the agenda of the Caucus. Elected officials from the caucus should be held accountable to their base of voters through consistent public and private meetings with grassroots members whom they represent, where they will be held accountable to the Caucuses long term plans and platform. This changes traditional politics from the realm of one driven by merely individual achievement and personality politics to a collective act by people who share a common point of view. Progressives have often fallen into the trap of waiting for the great progressive messiah when we need to look to ourselves to lead and create the world we want. The Caucus will demand that the grassroots act as more than bystanders to the process and our political system will be stronger as a result. And between elections the Caucus will provide support, nurture and an anchor for issue-oriented progressive organizations and campaigns, constantly refreshing its people-oriented base.
In order to break free from the limitations of two party politics, we must think differently. Perhaps it is time to break away from the concept of parties as the only feasible vehicle for obtaining political power entirely. Through the strategy proposed above, the left may galvanize its wide assortment of progressive organizations and unite around our own political apparatus. The goal is getting to majority status and real power – as a caucus. If we are successful in electing those who run on our own Caucus slate, in addition to creating a more equitable, sustainable, and just society, we can begin eliminating the legal barriers that prop up our existing two party system. We may execute this plan both locally and nationally with unique strategies and tactics that fit the context in which the plan is being executed. The key for us will be to set up processes that build independent political power for progressives outside of a party system as well as processes that empower the grassroots to lead the way. There are many details that can be settled through the process of taking action, but we must experiment boldly in order to win the power to change our economic and political system. The future of politics lies beyond the Democratic and Republican parties, and the ground is shifting in order to make that possible. It’s up to us to build the viable alternative.

Larry Stafford, a DSA member, is executive director of Progressive Maryland. This originally appeared on Progressive Maryland’s PM BlogSpace.

Categories: Political Parties

Hogan's paid sick leave veto in MD likely to backfire on his re-election plans

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:27
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Woody Woodruff
Just two days before his deadline, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivered his long-threatened veto of HB1, the Healthy Working Families Act that would provide paid sick leave to 700,000 now-uncovered Marylanders.

The response from Working Matters, the coalition of progressive groups that has worked five-plus years to get the assembly to pass paid sick leave: “It’s on.”

“On” it is.

Progressive Maryland and other progressive organizations in Maryland have been members of that coalition from the get-go.

Hogan has put his veto in a clever, potentially crowd-pleasing package that, as veteran blogger Josh Kurtz observed, allowed him a Houdini-like escape hatch from the rawest human edges of the veto. The pushback from progressives will need to be equally flexible and imaginative — and fired up.

At this point Hogan is faced with veto-proof majorities in favor of the bill in both chambers of the assembly. His diversionary package, principally a “study commission” to develop an alternative bill that the assembly can adopt as emergency legislation next January, is designed to peel off some of the override vote count, especially among Democrats who may feel vulnerable to charges of being anti-business in the 2018 election.

Michael Dresser, writing in the Baltimore Sun, says the executive order sets up a commission “drawing on the views of a wide variety of groups, including advocates of the legislature's bill.” Alas, the order does no such thing, confining participants to Hogan’s willing agency flunkies (“Executive Council”). The Guv is seeking a do-over from his commission without reference to the Assembly’s final product, which was hammered out over five grueling years, including five excruciating passes through the business-dominated House Economic Matters Committee.

The Guv also brandished a pilot program of sorts, extending by executive order a minimal version of what he sees as all the hoi polloi deserve in sick leave benefits to about 8,000 temporary workers for the executive branch. His half-a-loaf move and hypocritical yelps for a bipartisan solution cut no ice with legislators like Sen. Mac Middleton of Charles County, who by the Sun’s account “said the administration repeatedly refused to meet with lawmakers to work out a compromise this year. Now Middleton has no interest in a task force.”

The interests that are being catered to here are not actually those of independent small businesses, many of which saw paid sick leave as a playing-field leveler allowing them to treat their employees the way they wanted without being uncompetitively swamped by rapacious corporate interests. It was instead the corporate lobbyists that had Hogan’s ear. The Governor has  . . . turned his back on Maryland businesses, who could have had eight months to implement this smart policy, which will reduce turnover and enhance the health of their workplace,” said the veto response from Liz Smith of Working Matters. “Instead, the Governor has caved to interests of the corporate lobby and turned his back on working Marylanders.”

Progressive Maryland’s Justin Vest argued that the larger politics-as-usual realm was implicated:

A lot of people are “disappointed” that Hogan vetoed paid sick leave. Well that's not good enough. This isn't just a political setback to be rectified with a veto override in the next legislative session. This has real world consequences for a lot of workers. . . . It should never have taken this long for paid sick leave to pass with a Democratic supermajority. But party leadership decided time and again that human lives are less important than businesses' convenience. It’s time to stop hoping out-of-touch politicians will do right by working families. Instead we need people who know the struggles of everyday people, and have their own, to be the ones fighting for us in the halls of power — progressives who ignore the “political realities” to forge into new ground and achieve a radical vision of a better world.

And the interests being totally left out are those of the poor and working-class families where the unavailability of sick leave hits hardest. It is no accident that corporate forces, for whom workers are replaceable units not colleagues, find that not having publicly mandated sick leave enables them to enforce “workplace discipline” (that is, employer terrorism), keeping wages and benefits down and strengthening their hand against union organizing.

Progressive Maryland’s call for action against Hogan makes the clear comparison: “Hogan has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Donald Trump and national Republicans, but his actions speak louder than words. By vetoing paid sick leave legislation, he shows he is just as calloused as Trump and the Republicans trying to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans.”

As the Progressive Maryland appeal also makes clear, the opponent here is not just Larry Hogan — who must be defeated in 2018 — but as well the generally pro-business character of elected officials around the state. Not only Hogan but those legislators who resist the clearly needed progressive changes in Maryland and the nation need to be replaced. And it takes a popular movement, not politics as usual, to do that.

Categories: Political Parties

Books: "Hegemony How-To," movement building explored

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:22
Hegemony How-To Review 
The Washington Socialist <> June 2017
By Michael Bindner
For a recent socialist book group meeting we read Hegemony How-To by Jonathan M. Smucker (AK Press 2017). It was not a strictly socialist book, but it did provide an interesting perspective on how to build a broad-based movement, which we must do.

Smucker begins by first describing how he became a radical and how insular radicalism can become. His experience was through religious based organizations, including the DC Catholic Worker House. After building his skill set, he ended up as part of Occupy Wall Street and was instrumental in getting the message out. His stories are quite interesting on how Occupy both failed and succeeded (in spreading the 99% vs. 1% meme in particular). He leaves out the later accomplishments of some of the Occupy work groups, especially the one that  generated a large volume of comments to the new Consumer Financial Regulatory Board. He shows why well-formulated demands are key, probably more key than any action, and what happens when you don’t have them.

One of his major concerns is how insularity of radical groups creates a need to witness, often to get arrested in civil disobedience, or to extend to property damage, and how that turns off a larger audience. He spends a lot of time on the organizational culture of movements. Indeed, this could be a case study of risk management in movement organizations using the Cultural Theory of Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky. He captures egalitarianism as a way of life in the movement well, as well as the despotism and libertarianism that are counterpart ways of life of the right-wing. He also identifies the need for fashion in rebellion (meaning we need to sell more t-shirts).

His mention of elections as an organizing tool is spot on. Both the Bernie Sanders campaign and the resistance to Donald Trump show how this can be a unifying factor.
Smucker argues for more inclusion in radical movements and the making of alliances, even if allies don’t buy into 100% of the program. Whether one is insular or allied is the difference between wide success and self-justification/isolation.

The civil rights movement is an example of large scale federations. I have a few examples to share. Sometimes movements can be captured by public officials. Stand Up for Democracy in Washington DC was created to do a march in September 1998 to protest the federally-imposed Control Board taking over direct government from the Mayor. There were a few movements evolving on their own and the local congresswoman, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, created a united front. After the march, it kept going and she and her staff became upset when we started making demands of her. This led to the creation by Delegate Norton of DC Vote! and its cramped agenda for voting rights. Stand Up! still exists and has a list of demands, with Free DC’s Budget being the signature one. A few of them have been met and the new Mayor’s drive to statehood is a good sign.

An older civil rights victory was when the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party got two of its delegates seated at the 1968 convention in Chicago (which was overshadowed by the protests). They won the battle and lost the war, as the white segregationists in the party fled to the Republicans. Not sure that this is a long-term defeat, however; good riddance to the racists. Some coalitions die and deserve to, like the old Democratic/Dixiecrat one.

The next frontier in large scale organizing, according to Smucker, is to build a coalition around class issues using the tools of this book to build a political movement (Bernie would say a political revolution).

I say we need to look for an economic route to an economic problem. We must Occupy Capitalism. This coalition must go beyond political organizing to and form an economic coalition, like the capitalists do.

I wrote about some of these options in the January issue 

There are currently present limits to socialism that we must breach politically. We can unite the coalition of newly socialist organizations and movements to replace the Taft-Hartley Act, which constrains union formation. We should also push to amend the ERISA law that enables employee ownership so that it allows more concentrated ownership of the means of production by workers collectively. We can add sympathetic voices from inside the left and even some from outside the left. The hardest thing, of course, is to get people to notice that there is another way. Once they know, they will join us on the journey. Let’s invite them. Smucker shows us how.

Categories: Political Parties