DSA Member Dropped from Gubernatorial Ticket over BDS One Week After Joining It

Six days ago Illinois state senator Daniel Biss who is running for governor in 2018 announced his choice of Chicago Alderman and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate (alderman is what Chicago calls its city councilors) to great fanfare.

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Less than a week later, Biss dropped Ramirez-Rosa over differences concerning the campaign to boycott, divestment, and sanction Israel (BDS). BDS became a campaign issue after Illinois Democratic congressman Brad Schneider withdrew his endorsement of Biss over his running mate’s support for BDS. Schneiderman was likely reacting to pressure from his likely Republican opponent Jeremy Wynes who wrote on his Facebook page that Schneiderman endorsed a gubenatorial candidate who picked “an avowed Socialist and far-left Chicago political activist who helped organize and lead the recent Socialist conference in Chicago that endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against our ally Israel.”

Biss claims that Ramirez-Rosa flip-flopped on BDS, going from opposing to supporting it while Ramirez-Rosa says he supports it at the federal level while opposing it at the state and local level:

“While I was honored to be chosen as Senator Daniel Biss’ gubernatorial running mate, it became clear over the past few days that while we share a total commitment to peace, security, and statehood for the Israeli and Palestinian people, and both oppose pursuing BDS at the state level, the difference of opinion we have on the role the BDS movement plays at the federal level would make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket.”

Ramirez-Rosa’s statement is strange for a few reasons.

  • Why would a difference of opinion over a federal issue “make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket” when two candidates are running for state — not federal — offices?
  • Why is BDS bad at the local and state level but good at the federal level?
  • Opposition to BDS at the state level in Illinois ducks the question of what to do about the state’s BDS of the BDS movement. Illinois became the first state in the country to pass anti-BDS legislation; the state government blacklists and divests from companies that support or participate in the anti-Israel BDS campaign.
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The worst part about Illinois’ anti-BDS legislation from the standpoint of the Palestinian cause is that it protects companies that profit directly from Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank from any BDS efforts.

It is unclear from Ramirez-Rosa’s ambiguous statement whether he wants to repeal the state’s anti-BDS law or leave it in place.

Biss’ decision to drop Ramirez-Rosa from the ticket over BDS is just one of many signs that DSA made a big mistake at its recent convention by voting almost unanimously to support BDS with almost no serious discussion or substantive deliberation about the issues and complexities involved.

BDS divides rather than unites the progressive and pro-Palestinian communities, does nothing to weaken or break the Israeli-Egyptian siege of Gaza, and provides pro-Israel, pro-occupation forces with easy wins in their struggle to defeat the Palestinians once and for all. As a result, there are now 21 states with anti-BDS laws on the books. How many states have pro-BDS laws on the books? Zero.

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BDS is at best a distraction — and at worst totally counterproductive — to the Palestinian cause and now it has cost DSA a spot on a gubernatorial ticket. Now America’s record of never electing a socialist to be governor or lieutenant governor will remain safely intact.

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Groupthink is a contradiction in terms.

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