[The Democratic Socialists of America are holding their national convention in Atlanta August 2–4. I am a candidate in the elections for the DSA National Political Committee. This is a leaflet I wrote for the convention to explain why I am running.]
• Make immigrant and refugee rights a national priority
• Publish a Spanish website and orient to Latinx communities
• Focus on smaller cities, the South and Southwest
• Oppose U.S. wars and military bases abroad
• Transparent, participatory and democratic functioning
• Create an inclusive socialist movement for the 21st Century
I am running for the NPC in support of two resolutions, one on making defense of immigrant and refugees a national priority and the other on orienting to the Latinx communities beginning with creating a website in Spanish.
The DSA needs to focus on working with people of color and their organizations, understanding that our role is to support, not supplant, the struggles of oppressed peoples themselves.
This also implies orienting to the South and Southwest where the majority of people of color live. It means taking conditions there into account in our national policies. The electoral policy, for example, says nothing about giving non-socialist candidates critical support. It ignores important battles, like for control of state legislatures ahead of reapportionment in 2021. The policy works for heavily Democratic cities, but not for smaller cities, rural areas or the South.
Yet the South and Southwest are essential to transformative change in the United States: the reactionaries have to be fought and defeated where they are strongest.
And a focus on the South means the global South also. International solidarity should be a hallmark of our organization. We must demand lifting the blockade on Cuba, independence for Puerto Rico, an end to the economic attacks on Venezuela, immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and dismantling of the network of U.S. military bases that have spread across the globe like a cancer.
The NPC should function as a political leadership, not just an administrative body. We need to defend and expand our place in national politics. The NPC should encourage chapters to take initiatives in fights like the defense of the “squad” of four righteous Congresswomen of color against Trump’s diatribes by protesting at Republican headquarters or confronting Congressional Republicans at town halls during the August recess.
But consolidating the DSA also requires participation, transparency and democracy. Issues like dues sharing, creating regional structures, electoral tactics and national priorities should all have been handled by creating wide-open ways for members to take part in thinking them through together to come up with one or more options for the convention to consider.
The outgoing NPC’s inaction has led to an unwieldy set of resolutions that have neither been tested by, nor benefited from, a multifaceted discussion.
Finally, I am running against factionalism. We need to channel our discussions and collaboration through structures and spaces which are open to everyone in the DSA.
Members have a right to form caucuses, but caucuses carry a price. Separate discussion lists, private zoom calls, by-invitation-only conventions, “whipping the votes” through one-sided phone conversations, these practices undermine the cohesion of the DSA and can even compromise the integrity of the organization.
And we should remember we are not a consolidated organization. We did not find most of the people who joined in the last three years: they found us. And like them, there are tens of thousands more who just haven’t paid dues yet.
We have to bring together all those comrades to create the socialist movement of the 21st century, and we need everybody's participation to achieve it.
About José G. Pérez
I am an immigrant from Cuba and a life-long socialist, but a relatively new member of the DSA. I am the Treasurer of the Atlanta Chapter and a member of the National Immigrant Rights Working Group Steering Committee.
Throughout my life I have been involved most of all with Latinx communities. Since 2002, I have been associated with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), and currently I produce and co-host "Hablemos con Teodoro," a daily 2-hour news, analysis and call-in show on Radio Información, a streaming station founded by people from GLAHR.
I have worked as a journalist both inside and outside the movement. Until the mid-1980s, when I moved to Nicaragua for several years during the Sandinista Revolution, I was editor of the Spanish-language socialist magazine Perspectiva Mundial. Before helping to launch Radio Información in 2012, I worked at CNN en Español for two decades. I am also an accredited translator and interpreter.
Hatuey's Ashes is my blog. You can check out “Hablemos con Teodoro,” at facebook.com/RadioInformacion.