Build a party. This is the time for optimism.

  • Statement about: Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin
  • For these candidates: I oppose endorsing them.
  • Summary: We should run our own slate not endorse non-DSA candidates. We are in an era of sudden leaps and we should be optimistic.

Written by East Bay DSA members David S., Alex R., and K. Khan

The common thread that connected every speaker at the informational meeting was the urgency we all expressed about building working class power. Of course, this instinct is absolutely correct. Our disagreements amounted to a debate on the right balance and proportion between electoral politics, economic forms of struggle, and activism. This is exactly why we believe that East Bay DSA members should vote no and not endorse either candidate. They are not DSA members and they are not accountable to us. Only by building our own party will we be able to have a holistic approach towards electoral politics, economic forms of struggle, and activism. We are in no position to chose one or the other, we must build our way out of this catch-22. There are no shortcuts, and it will not be easy, but we have to start or we’ll never get there.

To build a party we must start by running our own slate of DSA candidates running on an independent Socialist line. Electoral politics is not an end to itself for Socialists. We do not want to promote illusions of an electoral route to socialism. Capitalists will not hand power over to our class just because we beat them in an election. But we can afford neither abstention from the electoral arena nor becoming a cog in an electoral machine we do not control. We can’t sit aside nor comprise our class independence.

We believe that the position of the comrade that suggested we wait "6 years" to run a slate and the position the Communist Caucus that voting is something "correlated to income levels" are both rigidly formalistic. Socialists ought to be concerned with the motion and development of class consciousness not a snapshot impression of its current state.

Party building and interest in electoral politics are not static things suspended in isolation from the rest of society. Events change things. The recent rise of Corbyn in Britain, which discarded the "correlation of income and voting" in an instant, and the mass enthusiasm for Sanders's primary campaign which carried over to the explosion in DSA membership should be ample proof that we are in a period where change happens in sudden ruptures and not a slow drizzle. Socialists must be prepared for the changes that future events will bring and must orient towards building working class power with optimism.

We are in agreement with comrades who argued that we cannot hold non-DSA members accountable. We believe there are enough politically talented class warriors in East Bay DSA to run our own slate. For inspiration we need look no further than our DSA comrade in New York, Jabari Brisport, who is running for NYC city council. Jabari is openly, and vocally, a socialist and agrees with putting the Fortune 500 under the democratic control of the working class. To be clear, Jabari is running on the Green Party line, but also running on an independent Socialist line since NY allows fusion voting.

Even if we lose in NYC, which we hope we do not, this campaign is a positive step towards building a mass Socialist party to represent our class. The DSA will reach new layers of the class with this campaign and energize inactive members. Compare this to another NYC DSA member Khader El-Yateem, who tried to take over an existing political machine (the Democratic party). He ran as a Democrat, campaigned as a Democrat, hid his socialist politics, and lost to a Democrat.

Running our own candidates on a principled Socialist position, even if we do not immediately defeat the bosses’ machine, would be a transformative struggle. We also believe it would compliment and elevate the existing ‘on the ground’ canvassing work of our local in a way endorsing non-DSA candidates would not.

The statement above is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the opinions of East Bay DSA, its local council, or its members.