Jovanka's Campaign is an Opportunity to Build 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: We can build DSA's capacity to fight for working-class power through the Beckles campaign

Written by East Bay DSA member Robbie Nelson

The primary question that we need to answer when faced with a potential endorsement is: will East Bay DSA's participation in this electoral campaign build our power to organize around crucial working-class demands? In the case of the candidates from the Richmond Progressive Alliance, I think the answer is clearly "yes."

While Jovanka Beckles is a dynamic candidate, my argument for endorsing her has less to do with her as an individual and more to do with the Richmond Progressive Alliance and East Bay DSA. Over the past decade, RPA has been a vehicle for assertive working-class policy demands around environmental justice, housing, and police accountability. Even more impressively, their ability to build power in opposition to Chevron has garnered the attention of socialists around the country. Their politics were a preview of the Bernie Sanders strategy, explicitly aiming critique at the power of capitalist corporations like the extractive behemoth Chevron.

By endorsing Jovanka, we can build a base from which we can partner with the RPA on future struggles around the aforementioned issues of environmental justice, police violence, and rent control. But in the immediate term, endorsing Jovanka Beckles with significant resources would mean campaigning for her. By incorporating her campaign materials into our current single-payer healthcare campaign, we can expand the reach of both campaigns.

Crucially, the way that socialists do canvassing campaigns is different than the ways that liberal NGO's or simple get-out-the-vote operations do canvassing campaigns. We don't just collect signatures for the sake of meeting an arbitrary goal. Our aim is to have radicalizing political conversations with our neighbors based on a shared material self-interest.

Because I don't wish to see DSA become a "progressive" electoral endorsement machine, I would not advocate endorsement with "minimal resources," in which we would list those endorsements over social media and not do much else.

Indeed, if the point of engaging with the electoral landscape is to actually build power, I think it's clear that we need "significant resources."

This doesn't mean dropping our other work. Rather, endorsement with "significant resources" would mean that East Bay DSA makes a commitment to incorporate Jovanka's materials into our ongoing canvassing work, and encouraging members to attend RPA canvasses and events.

By expanding our reach into the community, laying the groundwork for a crucial organizational alliance with RPA, and opening up even more pathways of participation to our membership, a strong endorsement of Jovanka Beckles would be a strategic, power-building decision for East Bay DSA.

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.