First published via Google Drive (without the image below). Hyperlinks added for clarification.
After much personal thought, I have decided to resign as North New Jersey Co-Chair and as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). If you’re curious why, I have outlined some of my reasons below. I remain grateful to have been introduced to and befriended many incredible humans during my time in DSA. However, I no longer believe in the direction of this organization, and I must move on.
As an organizer who was looking for something more, I was introduced to DSA in July 2017. I began organizing with DSA in August in the wake of A12, and I officially joined as a member in October after the first meeting of the Hudson County branch. Twice, I was elected co-chair of the branch and was honored this past January to be elected as co-chair of the North Jersey chapter. I helped get the North Jersey Chapter’s Immigrant Justice working group off the ground, and have been a member of the Red Rabbit marshal team collective since its early days. It is not an exaggeration to say that DSA has been a major part of my life for almost two years.
After the January North New Jersey election, I began feeling worn down. Every few weeks, something would happen within DSA as an organization or at the National and National Political Committee (NPC) level that left me disappointed or downright angry. If the decisions at the January NPC meeting were known to me prior to my submitting my candidacy for co-chair, I never would have submitted. For the NPC to have committed this organization of over 50,000 members to an Independent Expenditure (IE) campaign that is the single most expensive expenditure in the organization’s history without allowing members to know about it beforehand or weigh in on it was undemocratic. It undermined the democracy of the organization by ignoring the priorities set by members at the 2017 convention. Further, the Bernie IE campaign is, in my professional opinion as a nonprofit accountant, deeply flawed and not worth the risk to the organization. National is short staffed and has been the entire time I’ve been a member, and bringing a few new staff members dedicated exclusively to the IE is not enough to ensure that we as an organization are complying with all campaign finance laws accurately.
When the pricing schedule for the 2019 convention was initially introduced, I was upset. Why are members that already pay dues being asked to pay significant convention registration fees? This should be an expense that is paid directly from our dues! However, I still hoped that we would find a way to cover the costs for other members hoping to attend. Until this past weekend.
The removal of low-income housing options was the last straw for me. To expect people to sleep 4 in a hotel room to be able to possibly afford to attend while setting aside over $40,000 to fly in elected politicians (with $25 lunch stipends) is outrageous. That, coupled with the estimated $500,000 Bernie IE campaign budget, tells me everything I need to know: This is not a socialist organization. DSA members are its most valuable asset, and their needs, including financial ones, must come first.
I’m not sure what DSA is anymore, but it’s not what I hoped it was, and it’s not what I need it to be. The obsession with growing as quickly as possible has not allowed the necessary time for relationships with the organization to grow, leading to an enormous amount of donors and a lack of members doing organizing work. It’s creating a burnout culture for those who have been stepping up to organize for months or years. The commitment to ending capitalism once and for all has been overshadowed by the desire to remain the largest “socialist” organization in America, despite clearly losing sight of what socialism means.
To everyone that I have had the absolute pleasure of working alongside in North Jersey: thank you. Your activism has made me be a better person, a better comrade, and you have taught me so much.
To the members across the country who I met because of DSA, I am grateful to have had the chance to meet and get to know you. Some of you are legit as hell, and I am honored to call you my comrades. I look forward to hearing about your organizing and activism work for years to come.
To my activist friends and comrades who live locally, keep your eyes on this space, because something new is coming. After all, who says movement building can’t be fun?