By Danny Fetonte. First published via Google Drive. (Hyperlinks added.)
The battle for democracy within DSA has been seriously undermined by the last three weeks actions of by the National Political Committee (NPC) in refusing the duly elected Danny Fetonte from being seated and participating in the NPC. The NPC is also the Board of the non-profit that DSA is. Not putting me on the NPC Listserv, excluding me from participating in NPC meetings, calls, and excluding me from steering committee calls which were open to all NPC members except Danny Fetonte were all unauthorized actions.
These actions by the NPC were illegal and unethical. The meeting that was held where I was censured was a good example of not having charges brought, not allowing the person charged to defend himself in any way, and excluding me from the vote.
This is not due process.
Some NPC members have claimed I was excluded due to a past practice of when the NPC talked about an NPC member on a controversial issue they were excluded. There was no precedent, this has never happened, and the NPC uses this argument to attempt to avoid responsibility in excluding a duly elected NPC member and Board member of the non-profit organization.
This is a made-up excuse.
The slander that was encouraged by the NPC itself is inexcusable. It will take a long time for DSA to say it is a democratic organization and to restore its credential as an organization that functions democratically.
If DSA is going to lead a broad-based movement for social and economic justice and build a movement of millions of working people this ignoring of internal democracy will be a serious obstacle to the functioning of DSA.
These are not light charges.
- Was the fact of no real hearing suppressed because some NPC members were afraid that what would come out is that they knew every bit of my history working for CLEAT [the police union — PW]?
- Was a full hearing not held because multiple people on the NPC were afraid there was ample evidence that my work history and my connections with law enforcement were widely known?
- Was no hearing held because people were afraid that all the NPC would have to put down their own work histories and political associations?
We have members on the NPC who claim to be connected with the labor movement but their connections were brief times after college or law school.
The August 10th memo from the Steering Committee was admitted by NPC members to be full of falsehoods. The statement of the “Veterans’ Working Group” was signed by 4 members who did not have a conference call or a meeting of the working group and they had not attempted to gather any facts. This group made no attempt to speak to Danny Fetonte prior to issuing their “statement”. This group praised by the NPC felt comfortable spreading lies.
The new majority statement repeats the lie that Danny misled delegates in the election. The NPC’s new rap is we could not vote to keep Danny without censure. NPC members have refused to publicly state they know they have been spreading lies. The intimidation of the majority by the extremists and the continued lack of moral courage to stand up and put out the truth undermine DSA’s credibility. This lack of moral courage also continues to encourage the Internet bullies.
The lack of ethical behavior on the part of various NPC members is a serious handicap for DSA as we try to stand up in the major battles facing us in the U.S. The organized force that stood with Eugene Debs, Michael Harrington, and Bernie Sanders would not find this last three weeks as something to be proud of.
To be clear there was no information hidden from delegates at the National Convention either intentionally or unintentionally. There was a lot of information that all the delegates did not have on all the candidates. I thought we were voting for candidates based on their platforms. My platform was clearly laid out.
There was no investigation that went on to find out facts, but the NPC orchestrated multiple phone calls across the country to ask people how they felt about the “controversy,” thus building the “controversy” and encouraging attacks on Texas Locals and Danny Fetonte. In the new memo from the majority it says it is wrong to attack Texas chapters but says nothing about continuing attacks on Danny Fetonte.
Internet bravery will not change this country. It will take people talking to Americans of all walks of life. Most Americans have had to deal with the real pain of capitalism affecting all parts of their lives. The reason Bernie Sanders did so well is that he spoke directly to American people who are being abused and crushed under capitalism and the very real transferring of wealth in our society to a very small class of thieves.
Dogmatists within our ranks would get in the way when law enforcement unions stand up for justice and provide resources in that fight for justice. Texas DSA has at least a dozen members who organize or work with law enforcement. DSA in Texas has a past NPC member — who while serving on the NPC — organized police and correctional officers. There is no secretive group within DSA who stands with police when there are abuses. Myself and others oppose the organization of the present criminal justice system, oppose the way corrections and law enforcement is organized in America, and think the whole system has to be changed from top to bottom.
CLEAT has taken actions I do not support. CLEAT has taken two actions in Texas I do support. In Texas in the fight against demolishing labor unions, the AFL-CIO this year gave an award to CLEAT for being a valuable ally to Texas labor unions. It lobbied hard in the Legislature and in House districts against the attempt to eliminate payroll deduction for NEA, AFT, AFSCME, and CWA unions. CLEAT’s local organizations were not being attacked but they chose to fight alongside the rest of labor. Another key issue in Texas this year was our fight against SB4, which is a bill that attacks immigrant rights and puts every citizen in Texas with brown skin in danger. CLEAT as an organization lobbied, testified, and worked hard throughout Texas in representatives’ home districts and at the capital to oppose SB4. Sheriffs from Dallas and Austin stood up against Immigration and Customs Enforcement and almost every major police chief and sheriff testified and worked against this attack on the immigrant community.
We should look to the examples of law enforcement organizations in Sweden and the law enforcement union in South Africa. While we stand for racial justice, we are for collective bargaining for law enforcement and due process for law enforcement. Law enforcement officers guilty of violating people’s rights should be punished. Law enforcement officers who are innocent should not be punished just because they are a law enforcement officer. Extremists within our organization would deny anyone in law enforcement due process the same way the NPC members have denied Danny Fetonte due process. No charges, no investigation, and no hearing.
The ignoring of due process within DSA has implications for our future. Some on the NPC argued that the only way to create peace in DSA was for Danny Fetonte to resign. They openly admitted that their actions were wrong, that I was innocent of wrongdoing, and that even though innocent and my rights not respected that I should resign for the good of the organization. They had an opportunity with the majority report to put out publicly what they admitted to privately (no information hidden, they knew about my background). My support was based on my platform of bringing a labor perspective to the NPC, strong advocacy for local autonomy, opposition to dues increases, and an organization based on active involvement based in the social and economic movements going on across the country.
I gained votes by a strong advocacy for a DSA strategy of working inside and outside the Democratic Party and opposed the position that DSA should only support socialist candidates. I gained support because I opposed DSA isolating ourselves from the millions of Bernie supporters who are working through Our Revolution and in places with no Our Revolution working with other progressive in the Democratic Party.
I strongly advocated working for healthcare at the state and local level where we could make a significant difference. I advocated working with all forces that would unite with us on Medicare for All, reform of the criminal justice system, immigrant rights, disabled rights, and LGBTQ rights. In Texas a disabled person who needs a home care aide, so they can live in their home, has to get on a 14-year waiting list. Most home care aides in Texas make $8.00 [an hour] with no benefits which results in constant turnover instead of stable aides who know the disabled community and treats them as human beings.
The extreme position of avoiding working with any Democrats until we have the ability to elect socialists would say to the disabled rights movement that it is okay for you to be denied real assistance because “we have to be pure” and can only work for “socialist” candidates and we should not try to move moderate legislators and progressive Democrats to work in favor of the rights of the disabled. The position of only working for socialists might work in Berkley and Brooklyn but in most of the country we have to work with Democrats in order to stand up for justice.
What is amazing about DSA is the large number of Internet bullies and Internet “know it alls” we have attracted. The Internet bullies who act tough behind a keyboard but have never been hit by a billy club, never been in a street fight, never fought scabs on a picket line, and never been arrested; know how to threaten a person’s family anonymously but are scared to let their neighbors know they are socialists.
These Internet bullies only know how to fight in a computer game.
The “Internet know it alls” like to make profound statements in perfect English. The “know it alls” have accumulated their knowledge from text books and Internet essays. The “know it alls” have hardly lived, spending their life on campuses and in coffee shops with laptops, iPhones, and tablets.
One of these supposed “know it alls” was surprised to find out there are Black Police Associations. Both the Internet bullies and “know it alls” have no respect for knowledge learned in life, no respect for folks who have lived real struggle and have built real organizations.
The bullies and “know it all’s” want to write and talk about revolution and organization without ever block walking or phone banking. These folks show utter contempt for regular people who do the living in this world while they sit behind their computers and act superior.