Elections and Power

  • Statement about: Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin
  • For these candidates: I support a strong endorsement with a commitment to "boots on the ground" support from DSA.
  • Summary: Elections are a powerful tactic, and we learn to win them by doing them

Written by East Bay DSA member Sandy Barnard

The 2018 elections are happening, with or without us.

A common reason for not endorsing or not working for the election of Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin is that we haven't built enough power to hold them accountable. This may even be true. The problem, however, is that we certainly don't have enough power to hold Tony Thurmond or Gavin Newsom accountable either.

Elections are nothing more than a tactic, but they are an incredibly powerful tactic to help create our vision of the world. Medicare for All in California becomes closer to being signed into law with every comrade we have in the state assembly. The lieutenant governor sits on the UC Board of Regents, an incredibly powerful place from which to advocate for tuition-free higher education.

The above is assuming that we win. We may not win. However, I have a huge self-interest in members of East Bay DSA running for office and becoming campaign managers in the coming years. We will never be able to do that until we start working on elections. Saying “we don't have the power to hold these people accountable” is completely ignoring that the way we build this power is by doing it, not waiting to magically becoming powerful enough. Elections are hard, and expensive, and the members of our organization probably will never run unless we can start building the necessary machine now.

The various criticisms of why we should not endorse aren't wrong, but they aren't powerful either. We have to start looking at how to show up powerfully in the public arena in the Bay Area. Enemies of the working class already do.

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.