Not only did voters turn out against fascism in November, but they also passed a host of working class initiatives and sent a clear message that so-called social issues such as abortion don’t need to be counterposed to economic issues. In fact, social issues are economic issues, and we can win on both.
DSA expanded our electoral footprint this fall, winning 75% of our nationally endorsed candidates and issue campaigns. We now have 14 state caucuses of more than one elected official. We’re building the bench and leadership experience of democratic socialists in office.
We need mass politics to lift up the working class at a mass scale. Some 37.7 million people will have their lives improved because of candidates and issue campaigns supported by DSA chapters in this election cycle, including initiatives to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, protect renters, protect worker organizing, and protect abortion. Incredibly, 1.1 million people will benefit from initiatives actually written by DSA members.
We’re building the skills and capacity of our chapters to not just write policy but to develop campaign strategies, to fundraise, and to run canvasses, phonebanks, and text banks. And we’re doing it everywhere—to protect abortion in red states, DSA chapters in Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana coordinated DSAers to send 5.4 million texts to voters in their states.
And we won’t stop. And we won’t stop. Outside funding for progressive organizing tends to taper off between elections, but one of the most critical—and unique—things about DSA is that membership dues, not big donors or some other funding stream, pay for our work. This independence allows us to set our own program.
We now face a far-right Republican Party in Congress, taking over school boards, and refusing to seat democratically elected state officials. The capitalist-owned media helps normalize the far Right, and the judiciary is packed with Republican judges. At the same time, neoliberal Democrats will continue promoting the policies that opened the door to Trumpism in the first place by driving down working-class living standards. Furthermore, reactionary super PACs spend millions against progressive Democrats in primaries and then switch parties and spend for the Republican opponent if their primary strategy failed to do the trick. At this political conjuncture, we must operate with a clear-eyed view, which is why we have a nuanced strategy.
While we have one foot in the formal political system, we have the other in the streets. As I write this piece, 48,000 academic workers in the University of California system are striking for a fair contract, Starbucks workers across the country just held a one-day strike, and railway workers are considering a strike. DSA is there, as members and as supporters, because although there is power in the ballot box, there is also power in stopping production. We don’t know what the future holds, but we’ll be ready. Better yet, we’ll help shape it.