DSA Statement on the 2000 Vote

Marta Russell ap888 at SPAMlafn.org
Mon Aug 28 22:09:00 MDT 2000

I find it post ironic that DSA, which has never formally acknowledged that disabled
persons are oppressed, critique Nader on his lack of a platform on sexism and racism.

It has been brought to DSA's attention on numerous occasions that they have omitted
disability and to this day they still omit it.


Xxxx wrote:

> While I guess I'm happy that DSA no longer views itself as the "left wing of the
> Democratic Party," this statement leaves me confused as to what DSA's tactics are.
> They're committed neither to building an independent working class party such as
> the Labor Party nor are they committed to the Democrats and they're all over the
> map on the Presidential election. DSA mentions that it's a co-sponsor of the
> Working Families Party in NY which, I believe, is a practitioner of "fusion"
> politics (ie running candidates on it's own and the Democratic Party ticket). If
> so what's the difference between the DSA and the New Party?
> Xxxx
>                                    The DSA Statement on the 2000 Elections
>   The National Political Committee consciously chose not to endorse any major
> party presidential candidates. While understanding that for pragmatic reasons many
> progressive trade unionists, environmentalists, and African-American and Latino
> activists have chosen to support Al Gore, DSA s elected representatives believe
> that Gore, like the now defeated Bill Bradley, represents a centrist, neo-liberal
> politics which does not advocate the radical structural reforms   such as
> progressive taxation, major defense cuts, and real universal health and child
> care   necessary to move national politics in a genuinely democratic direction.
>  Gore’s strong support for “free trade” fails to integrate the need
> for international solidarity and global regulation of transnational capital
> required for egalitarian politics at home and abroad. Nor is it sufficient to talk
> of getting “soft money” (unlimited contributions directly to the
> political parties) out of politics. Corporate influence over electoral politics
> can only be curtailed through public financing of campaigns and access to free
> media. It is a sad commentary on the state of American politics when
> dyed-in-the-wool conservative John McCain is portrayed by mass media as a
> “progressive reformer” of campaign law.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>Some DSAers may support Ralph
> Nader for president, if he appears on the ballot in their state. Others may
> support our Socialist Party comrade David McReynolds. Nader’s campaign is
> likely to appear on more state ballots and it has the potential to harness the
> energy of the protests in Seattle and Washington against the WTO and IMF. This
> time around, DL hopes he runs a serious campaign and does not again dismiss issues
> of racism and sexism as “divisive” or “gonadal” politics.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>But in states where the
> presidential race appears close next November, it is likely that DSA members with
> ties to mass constituencies will engage in pragmatic lesser-evilism and hold their
> nose and vote for the Democrat. These are all understandable tactical choices. DSA
> Vice-Chair Harold Meyerson’s electoral analysis in this issue concludes with
> a case for “critical support” of Gore. This position is by no means an
> official DSA “line,” but a perspective held to by many in the
> organization, but dissented from by numerous others.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>It is inaccurate to describe
> DSA as primarily working within the “left-wing” of the Democratic
> Party.” The 1993 DSA convention in fact resolved “that the imperative
> task for the democratic Left is to build anti-corporate social movements which are
> capable of winning reforms which empower people. In so far as such social
> movements and coalitions wish to influence state policy they will, at times,
> intervene in electoral politics. The fundamental question for DSA is not what form
> that electoral intervention takes, whether it be through Democratic primary races,
> non-partisan local elections, or third party efforts. Rather, our electoral work
> aims at building majoritarian coalitions capable of not only electing public
> officials, but capable of holding them accountable after they are
> elected.”<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA’s main task is to
> build grassroots, multi-racial, progressive coalitions. There is no short-cut to
> doing so other than the hard work of “education, agitation, and
> organizing.” Neither flying the flag of a third party which lacks a mass
> social base, or placing uncritical faith in isolated progressive Democratic
> politicians will build a powerful Left. A successful third party would have to
> command sufficient strength in mass constituencies that it could split one of the
> two major parties.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA is no more loyal to the
> Democratic Party – which barely exists as a grassroots institution –
> than are individuals or social movements which upon occasion use its ballot line
> or vote for its candidates. The peculiar nature of the American constitution
> renders third party politics difficult at both the national and state level.
> Myriad structural factors mitigate against viable third parties, and various
> constitutional blockages are exceedingly difficult to amend: executive-based
> federalism makes parliamentary-style coalition-governments impossible, winner-take
> all districts, absence of proportional representation, open primaries in which
> party membership is regulated states not parties themselves — allowing both
> Klansmen and Communists to be members of the Democratic Party, In the GOP, white
> libertarian upper-middle-class suburbanites contend with white working-class
> fundamentalists for influence in that party. Veterans of the left will remember
> that the 1968 Peace and Freedom Party and the 1980 Citizens Party arose at moments
> of greater left-wing strength and did not significantly alter the national
> electoral landscape. Nor has, unfortunately, the New Party, which many DSAers work
> with in states where “fusion” of third party and major party votes is
> possible (such as the DSA co-sponsored Working Families Party in N.Y. State).<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA recognizes that some
> insurgent politicians representing labor, environmentalists, gays and lesbians,
> and communities of color may choose to run under Democratic auspices, as in the
> 1988 Jesse Jackson campaign, or operate as Democrats like Senator Paul Wellstone,
> and the 59 Democratic members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, one-half of
> whom are Black and Latino and all of whom possess strong labor backing and
> operative social democratic politics.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>Electoral tactics are only a
> means for DSA; the building of a powerful anti-corporate and ultimately socialist
> movement is the end. Where third party or non-partisan candidates represent
> significant social movements DSA locals have and will continue to build such
> organizations and support such candidates. DSA honored independent socialist
> Congressperson Bernie Sanders of Vermont at our last convention banquet, and we
> have always raised significant funds nationally for his electoral campaigns. At
> the same time, we were pleased to have Democratic Congressperson and Progressive
> Caucus member Bob Filner of San Diego introduce Sanders at the convention, and
> note that Progressive Caucus member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) will be honored at our
> annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner this Spring in Chicago.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA is a modest, sometimes
> effective organization, whose members have greatest influence in community-level
> electoral politics. DSA is not an electoral organization, but rather a democratic
> socialist political organization which aims to bring socialism into the mainstream
> of American politics. We endeavor to do so through a two-pronged strategy of
> education and organizing. Much of our work is cultural and ideological: forums,
> debates, publications. But our voice can only be heard if we simultaneously play a
> central, activist role within struggles relevant to working people, communities of
> color, women, gays and lesbians and other oppressed constituencies. We operate
> within progressive coalitions as an open socialist presence and bring to these
> movements an analysis and strategy which recognizes the fundamental need to
> democratize global corporate power. We do not see ourselves as a vanguard speaking
> for the masses nor do we romantically believe that a small socialist organization
> can unilaterally transform the U.S. electoral map.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA strives to be a crucial
> socialist leaven within a mass movement for social justice. In the 2000 elections,
> most electorally-active, progressive constituencies will endeavor to elect
> progressives to Congress and to the state legislatures. These state legislatures
> will engage in the post-census redistricting which will influence electoral
> politics throughout the coming decade. For better or worse, it is unlikely that
> presidential politics in the year 2000 will structurally transform the landscape
> of American politics, however important the outcome.<br>
>                                                 </p>
>                                                 <p>DSA will continue to be a voice
> inside — and outside — the electoral process, to argue against panaceas
> of ‘fixed’ markets, and for a bottom-up democratic, decentralized and
> environmentally sane economy.</td>

Marta Russell
Los Angeles, CA
Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract

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