171-2 DSA in the News

compiled by Bob Roman

There continues to be a celebrity (famous for being famous) element to the news media coverage of DSA in this report but the fact is: DSA is involved in a lot of interesting stuff at all levels of politics. News coverage is beginning to be more reflective of this. DSA’s involvement in local elections has gathered more coverage than it probably deserves. On the other hand, DSA’s involvement in the People’s Climate March didn’t seem to get much attention outside of right-wing blogs. May Day brought out the scribes, understandably, including the dedication of the honorary Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Way. Yet considering how DSA has de-emphasized campus organizing, we’ve continued to get considerable coverage of YDS campus actions. There are more than five dozen links in this late April report.

In These Times featured a conversation between Chris Maisano and Jessie Mannisto about socialism and electoral politics. Daniel Marans noted the election victories of DSA members khalid kamau in South Fulton, Georgia, and Dylan Parker in Rock Island, Illinois, at The Huffington Post. Mike Elk at Pay Day Report profiled a number of labor-oriented local election campaigns around the south, including DSA’s role with khalid kamau. Heidi Groover’s “SLOG” column at The Stranger noted khalid kamau’s victory and DSA. John Nichols wrote up DSA’s role in elections at The Nation. Attempting granularity, Jimmy Tobias at The Nation began a monthly survey of urban resistance to Trumpism that included DSA member Dylan Parker’s election win in Rock Island. Fox21 (KQDS) carried a report by Lena Takada on the city council candidate screening Duluth DSA is a part of. A brief report on the same was carried by Lyanne Valdez at WBNG.

Dev Thimmisetty wrote about UTD students and recent grads involved in electoral politics at The Mercury, and DSA got a mention. At the UT Daily Beacon, Libby Dayhuff reported on a panel discussion on electoral politics with panelists from YDS and DSA.

Bernie Sanders is a miserable sell-out in the DSA tradition, sez Andrew Stewart at Counterpunch then Andrew Stewart goes on about it, so there. Is DSA the future of the left? Looks like it, opines Nathan Newman at The Huffington Post. At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy agrees that socialism and DSA are cool. Again. Thank you, Trump. Claire Levenson agrees at the French edition of Slate. More than resistance, DSA gives people something to believe in, according to Jake Johnson at Paste Magazine. Josh Delk and Paul Kengor at The American Spectator can’t believe it, however: It’s all Trumped up. DSA got a mention in New York Magazine’s “Beyond Alt: Understanding the New Far Right” (there’s also an “alt-left”.) Thom Hartmann interviewed DSA’s Ryan Mosgrove.

Seattle Weekly put together a guide to Seattle’s new left; DSA did get a mention. A broad national look at the anti-Trump movement by Peter Dreier at The American Prospect included a paragraph about DSA.

Talon Delaney covered a debate between YDS and Turning Point USA at Iowa State Daily. There was another debate between YDS and Turning Point USA at Georgetown University, covered by Nicholas Elliot at Georgetown Review.

Frankie Benitez profiled the University of Oregon YDS chapter at The Daily Emerald. YDS had a couple of paragraphs and photos in Nina Sheridan’s report on an Activities Fair at The Princetonian. Samantha Friskey used DSA as an identifier in covering a “join the resistance” panel  at The Daily Pennsylvanian. Dave Huber excerpted and commented on that article at The College Fix.

The Daily Emerald carried a report by Francisca Benitez on an upcoming die-in protesting war in Syria wherein YDS got a mention. The die-in was covered with YDS as the organizers by Brady Wakayama at KEZI.

The Princetonian posted a letter from the university chapter of YDS demanding specific changes in the way university employees are treated. The letter was followed up by a march and rally organized by YDS, reported Claire Thornton at The Princetonian. The demonstration got written up by Francesca Billington at Princeton Alumni Weekly. The Chattanoogan quoted UTC YDS leader Ellie Newell with regard to outsourcing work done by university employees. Michelle at Wesleying mentioned YDS as one of the primary organizers of a hunger strike in protest against management stalling in contract negotiations with Yale graduate students.

DSA made it into the photo caption in an article about the affordable housing crisis in California by Michael Mott at Sacramento News & Review. DSA was a member of a coalition protesting Trump housing cuts according to Black Star News.

At The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer noted DSA’s participation in the “big tent” strategy of the Climate March.

DSA was mentioned in passing in an essay about the relevance of May Day by Dave Anderson at Boulder Weekly. Natasha Abner’s preview of the upcoming May Day “Day without Immigrants” in Newark included DSA among the sponsors at Atlantic Highlands Herald. Chicago DSA put out a press release, picked up at eNews Park Forest, but Miles Kampf-Lassin at The Chicago Reader also included Chicago DSA among the groups participating in Chicago’s May Day. YDS is among the organizations bringing May Day to the University of Maryland, reported Leah Brennan at The Diamondback. Leah Brennan at The Diamondback also covered the resulting demonstration. Emma Whitford at The Gothamist surveyed upcoming May Day demonstrations in New York, including one planned by DSA in support of B&H employees. Westword included a DSA event in its survey of May Day events as did KDVR. DSA was among the organizations in the upcoming May Day march Las Vegas, according to KTNV. Fifi Abdul-Malik mentioned DSA in an essay explaining May Day at The Ghana Guardian. Linda Cook at Quad Cities Times used a DSA meeting to explain May Day. Alex Stone at ABC radio news mentioned DSA in his coverage of U.S. observances of May Day, as in this example at WRTA. Rachel Kurzius quoted a DSA member in coverage of Washington’s May Day march at DCist. Patrick Strickland gave DSA several paragraphs in coverage of May Day events across the U.S. at Al Jazeera. DSA’s Ryan Mosgrove was quoted in a report on May Day carried by KVRR. Taylor Polson mentioned DSA in an account of the local May Day demonstration at Honolulu Star Advertiser. An account of the Los Angeles May Day appeared as an editorial at The Independent (UK). DSA got several mentions in Nick Pinto’s May Day account at The Village Voice.

Mina Bloom at DNAinfo reported that Leonard Pierce represented DSA at the official unveiling of an honorary “Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Way” along Kedzie from Emmett to Addison in Chicago.

Josh Nathan-Kazis covered a May Day strike at B&H Photo Video’s warehouse for The Forward, noting DSA’s supportive participation.

A protest in support of immigrant rights disrupted an education conference, gaining applause from conference participants and DSA a mention in a report by Ryan Leou at Daily Bruin.

Anna Merriman at nj.com reported on YDS’ participation in an anti-hate speech rally at Princeton University. YDS got a mention in a Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding Cornell University and free speech.

Sarah Jaffe’s interview with Renata Pumarol at In These Times mentioned DSA.

Sam Adler-Bell mentioned DSA in passing in a review of Smucker’s “Hegemony How-To” at New Republic.

For the Indivisible blog at Medium, Patrick Cochran wrote up a universal health care demonstration in Boston, listing DSA among the organizers.

DSA is pro-Russian, opined Henry Dykstal at The Lawrentian.

Dan McQuade mentioned DSA, in passing, in an anthology of pot jokes at Deadspin. DSA got a mention in Shaun Scott’s essay on comedy and politics at City Arts.

DSA got mentioned in Jonny Coleman’s account of LA’s Labor Choir at LA Weekly.

Kate Arnoff mentioned DSA in passing while engaging in schadenfreude over wealthy screw-ups at In These Times.

DSA was among the organizations at a press conference regarding a seriously dubious (gassing a 5 year old?) Birmingham, Alabama, police action, according to Michael Clark at WIAT. Carol Robinson at AL.COM also mentioned DSA in her account of the press conference. Mo Barnes mentioned DSA in his report on the incident at Rollingout. Laura Burnip wrote up the incident for The Sun (UK), mentioning DSA. Darla Guillen included a quote from Eric Hall in an account at Houston Chronicle. All this got some play among various bigot blogs, as you might expect.


171-2 DSA News

Beyond Resistance: A Way Forward

The 2017 Debs — Thomas — Harrington Dinner is coming up soon, Friday, May 19. We have two honorees whose work deserves your recognition: Larry Cohen, past President of the Communication Workers of America, and Adriana Alvarez, a rank-and-file organizer and public spokesperson for the Fight for 15. We have a great speaker to tie it all together: Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa. And finally, if you find the information below to be useful, Chicago DSA could seriously use your help. If you haven’t already gotten your tickets, a printable PDF flyer with more information is HERE. You can also order your tickets online HERE.

Intro to democratic socialism

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

Sunday, May 7, 1:30 PM @ Homewood Public Library, 17917 Dixie Highway, Homewood. What do we mean by “democratic socialism?”  How does it compare to what Bernie Sanders talked about during his presidential campaign? What do democratic socialists have to say about capitalism in the world today? Why do we think it is a form of society that must be replaced? And what might that replacement look like?

The event is free but space is limited. Please RSVP HERE.

A Chicago DSA May Day

DSA’s Leonard Pierce joined 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa and Illinois Labor History Society President Larry Spivack and others in honoring Lucy Parsons with an honorary street name.

The dedication ceremony was one of several morning and rallies that fed into a mass rally and march beginning at Union Park on Chicago’s near west side. Despite being the temporary location of the Haymarket Square free speech monument and statues of Governor Altgeld (who pardoned the surviving Haymarket martyrs) and James Connolly (Irish marxist and nationalist, executed by the British), the park is actually named in honor of our side of the U.S. Civil War: the Federal Union. The park has become, however, the starting point for many left and labor rallies and marches, including this May Day.

The 2017 May Day march and rallies drew over 20,000 participants:

May Day in Chicago
Photo by Christine Geovanis
May Day in Chicago
Photo by Christine Geovanis
May Day in Chicago
Photo via Northside Chicago branch CDSA
May Day in Chicago
The banner in the foreground is Chicago DSA’s original parade banner making its first public appearance in decades. It’s a bit worn, but it looks great in the photo. Photo via Southside Chicago branch CDSA.

The Bowletariats

The Bowletariats

Chicago DSA’s bowling team in the Chicago Abortion Fund fundraising campaign placed 4th in the amount raised among the nearly three dozen teams entered. Their total was $4,294.68. We’ve been unable to learn how they did in actual bowling… The campaign raised over $55,000 over all when the goal had been $35,000.

Uniting to Build a Socialist Feminist Movement

A May 1, 2017, statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America begins:

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is committed to socialist feminist organizing, knowing that capitalism is built upon male supremacy and white supremacy. One of the most critical feminist issues is reproductive justice, including not just birth control and abortion but also childbearing and childrearing. DSA also understands that abortion access is an economic issue, that poor and working-class people and people of color in particular experience limited access to reproductive healthcare, from the very limited access to care for rural patients to mandatory waiting periods that force people to lose work and stay in a costly hotel, to the high cost of the care itself.


171-1 DSA in the News

compiled by Bob Roman

The press seems to be getting over its fascination with the modest rise of socialism in America, or perhaps everyone with the least bit of interest in it has heard the story at least once. Thus we’re starting to see detail work, profiles of individuals and local organizations. This is actually an easy way down from DSA’s celebrity status. Some folks have a much harder time of it. It is nice, though, that if we’re involved in an issue today, we’re likely to be given at least a mention. That’s not something we could have expected two years ago. 28 links in this semi-monthly report:

DSA (and its members) was profiled by Kara Clark at Newest York. Ian Ringgenberg reported on organizing by the Twin Cities DSA chapter at Southside Pride. Pat Riehle at KKFI’s “Radio Active Magazine” interviewed four local members of DSA. Lilly Martinez profiled the Madison, Wisconsin, DSA chapter at The Badger Herald. Colt Shaw did a profile of the Philadelphia DSA chapter at Philadelphia Weekly.

Socialism (and DSA) rising, even here on this campus, observed Tori Falcon at North Texas Daily. There’s no place for secret money in campus elections, according to a YDS statement at The Lantern. (And a “why not?” reply HERE.)

Suddenly everyone is into roses, observed Jeff Ihaza at The Outline, giving DSA two paragraphs in an article not about politics.

Nick Margetis used DSA as part of an argument for national health insurance at JTNN Online. Rochester DSA was interviewed by Evan Dawson in connection with national health insurance at WXXI’s “Connections”.

YDS member Michael Curry was quoted by Maddie Biertempfel regarding grad student unionization at Penn State at The Daily Collegian. Telon Delany’s account of an anti-prison labor demonstration included a quote from YDS’ David Karayof at Iowa State Daily. This article got excerpted by a number of conservative campus-oriented publications: Awww, those pretty little snowflakes.

Stephanie Yuvienco covered a Stony Brook Muslim Student Association’s interfaith Jummah prayer and quoted YDS’ Stephen Hanna at The Statesman. YDS got quoted in an open letter by Ariana Quennan re: diversity to Hofstra’s Stuart Rabinowitz at The Hofstra Chronicle. Sanders was too easy on bigotry among Trump supporters, opined Anthony Rogers-Wright, citing DSA as a model at Medium.

YDS was mentioned in passing in a report on student government by Jessica Macey at The Scarlet.

Marc Torrence at Patch noted DSA as one of the organizers of a march against the Bedford-Union Armory deal in Brooklyn.

DSA was used as an identifier in a column by Tom Broderick denouncing the Trump budget at Wednesday Journal.

Lisa Hagen mentioned DSA among the organizers of the second People’s Summit at The Hill.

Francis Flisiuk included extensive quotes from DSA members in coverage of an anti-Gorsuch demonstration at The Portland Phoenix.

William Turton did the whole “organizer thing” on Daniel Hanley, including DSA buttons, at Gizmodo. DSA got a mention in Reeves Wiedeman’s profile of Brace Belden at New York Magazine. DSA was mentioned in passing in Jennifer Swann’s interview with Moshe Kasher at LA Weekly.

The Democratic Party needs to fix itself or else it’s DSA, opined Julianna Siemssen at The Tacoma Ledger. DSA Green Party candidate for NYC City Council Jabari Bisport was interviewed by Emma Whitford at Gothamist.

Lyle Jeremy Rubin mentioned DSA in an article about veterans, war and politics at New Labor Forum.

Greg Afinogenov mentioned DSA in a review of Peter Frase’s Four Futures and Wolfgang Streeck’s How Will Capitalism End? at N+1.

171-1 DSA News

DSA Condemns the Bombing of Afghanistan

Dated April 14, 2017, the statement from the DSA National Political Committee begins:

DSA condemns the first military use of the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan on April 13. Allegedly used to attack a cave used by ISIS in Afghanistan, the GBU-43 bomb (which contains 11 tons of explosives) poses a threat to all human existence within a one-mile radius of its target. The Trump administration’s praise for massive bombings, first in Syria and now in Afghanistan, as “the US military doing their job as usual” shows the Trump administration’s commitment to the United States’ tradition of using brutal and indiscriminate military force as the primary response to complex foreign policy problems.


DSA Chapters Raise Money for Abortion Funds

At Democratic Left, Caroline Reid writes:

Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of reproductive health care and family services, and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for caregiving of the elderly and young. “Reproductive justice” is a concept that moves beyond the notions of “choice” and “rights.” It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman’s right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice.


Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner

to Honor Larry Cohen and Adriana Alvarez

Keynote by Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa

by Bob Roman

The 2017 Eugene V. Debs – Norman Thomas – Michael Harrington Dinner will be held Friday, May 19, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago West Loop, Madison & Halsted, on Chicago’s near west side. This will be the 59th annual dinner. We have a great evening lined up, and you are invited to attend!

1981 Norman Thomas Eugene V. Debs Dinner
Italian labor leader and socialist Egidio Clemente (left) accepts the award from DSOC’s Carl Shier while the soon-to-be Chicago Mayor Harold Washington looks on at the 1981 Thomas – Debs Dinner. Photo by Syd Harris.

For those of you new to the movement, the Dinner is something of a Chicago institution that predates DSA. It began in 1958 under the auspices of the newly merged Socialist Party – Social Democratic Federation (SP-SDF) as Chicago’s Debs Day Dinner, much as Republicans had (and often still have) Lincoln dinners and Democrats likewise Jefferson – Jackson dinners. It quickly gained some success as a platform for notable speakers such as Sid Lens, Bayard Rustin, Chicago’s Leon Despres, James Farmer, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington. After Norman Thomas died, the event became the Norman Thomas – Eugene V. Debs Dinner. In 1971, it became an awards dinner as well as a speaker’s platform. The SP-SDF fell apart and the event was taken over by Michael Harrington’s

Michael Harrington
Michael Harrington speaking at the 1986 Thomas – Debs Dinner. Photo by Syd Harris.

Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. When they merged with the New American

Movement, it was taken over by the resulting Democratic Socialists of America. You can find more the history at chicagodsa.org/dthdin.html.

That was then. The theme for this year’s Dinner is, A Way Forward! There’s no doubt that most of what is decent about our country is in peril. But Trump’s failure to win the popular vote is a clear indication we can go beyond resistance, beyond stalemate to where democracy is victorious and we are on the path to social and economic justice. Our honorees, each in their own way, have made significant contributions to this fight for equality.

Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen may be familiar to you as being the recently “retired” President of the Communication Workers of America. CWA members have been willing to confront some truly gargantuan corporations, but Cohen’s contributions have not stopped there. He correctly judged the mood of insurgency in our country and was a leader in Labor for Bernie and he’s continued that struggle as Board Chair of Our Revolution. Cohen is the Chair of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of national organizations confronting the corruption of our democracy by corporate money. And he’s a Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future. He’s also been serving as a rabble-rouser about town, grabbing the bullhorn by the mic in protest of the latest Trumpian outrage.

Adriana Alvarez

Adriana Alvarez may be less familiar to you. She is a rank-and-file leader in Fight for 15, a worker at McDonald’s who has been willing to be arrested in support of her fellow workers, opens her home for meetings and, in between raising a son, does what needs to be done in the grand left tradition of a “Janie Higgins”. Alvarez also serves as one of the public faces of the campaign for a $15 / hour minimum wage (and a union), representing that movement on the web, across the nation, and in countries as various as Canada, Brazil and the Vatican. In honoring Alvarez, we are also honoring a movement that, while in the process of exploring alternative organizing strategies, has already made a huge difference in the lives of those at the bottom of our economy.

Our featured speaker is Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa from Chicago’s 35th Ward. Rosa is one of Chicago’s crop of outstanding new leaders in the City Council. Rosa has confronted the problem of governing head on. He has not complacently waited for a movement to begin in his ward around election time. He has taken leadership in making one happen.

Please join us in honoring these two outstanding activists for they deserve your recognition as well as ours. I hope to see you there on Friday evening, May 19.

If you cannot attend or if money for politics is scarce, please consider getting a greeting or an ad in the Dinner Program Book. This is the truly cost-effective way of participating while publicly recognizing the work our honorees have done on behalf of the movement.

The favor of your reply is requested.

Chicago DSA v. 3.0

by Bob Roman

You have probably heard that DSA has tripled its membership since the November election, reaching 19,000. The same is true for Chicago. Last year at this time, membership was at 250. Now, in the Chicago metropolitan area, it’s over 750. Even within Chicago DSA’s redefined borders, membership is just less than 600. These are not huge numbers, but they are record highs. Moreover, this growth has been matched by a notable increase in people willing and downright eager to take responsibility. This is manifest in the proliferation of DSA chapters across the nation; we’re very nearly a 50 state organization now. In Illinois, we have a West Suburban Illinois chapter, and organizing committees in the Quad Cities, Northern Illinois and Champaign – Urbana. In Chicago DSA, we now have three branches: Greater Oak Park, Northside Chicago and Southside Chicago. Within our chapter, we also have a number of self-organized working groups, some of which are mostly notional while others, such as the Rapid Response group and the Labor group, have staged useful interventions in Chicago politics. The Labor working group, for example, recently blitzed CTA stations in support of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s negotiations with the CTA. The Rapid Response group has made sure that DSA has been visible at several recent demonstrations. (We really do need to be better about blowing our own horn.) This is the good news.

The less good news is that on the local level, most of this work is being done out-of-pocket whenever there are expenses. Furthermore, our new members are predominantly younger adults who have grown up on the web. Combined with meager branch finances, this means that nearly all the organizing and communication is being done via Facebook, email, Twitter, and other social media. Basically, if you’re offline or if we don’t have your email address then you’re a second class member. (But really, apart from holiday cards, how often do you get personal letters these days?)

Chicago DSA was moving in this direction before the avalanche. The percentage of members lacking an email address had been dropping, and it’s dropped radically with this influx of new members. There are ways of working around these mismatched modes of communication, and we’ll find ways of doing it, especially if those of you off-line insist.

Other changes are on the horizon. If money allows, we may move the office again as our Executive Committee meetings have been drawing capacity crowds. You will see new leadership at Chicago DSA. The terms of office for our CDSA officers are staggered, but also there are vacancies. There is also an Executive Committee expanded by more representatives from branches.

But the most important change will be when Chicago DSA becomes a player that intervenes in politics in a strategic way on behalf of a particular constituency. This will require your participation. This will require your contributions. Remember, your continued support is important, and I do appreciate it.

Save the date!

Chicago DSA’s workshop, “Introduction to Democratic Socialism,” will come to south suburban Homewood on Sunday, May 7, 2017. The workshop starts at 1:30 p.m. at Homewood Public Library, 17917 Dixie Highway.

New DSA members, young people and anyone interested in a fair and prosperous society are encouraged to attend.

Homewood Public Library is easily accessible by the Metra Electric passenger rail line.

For directions and more information, contact Bob Reilly at reillylaw319@gmail.com.