Response to DSA’s 2016 Electoral Strategy


The National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America released bullet points of the organization’s 2016 electoral strategy a few weeks ago. They ask that DSA members who don’t agree “articulate these points as the organization’s perspective and then indicate where the individual member disagrees.”

You can read all of their points for yourself at the link included below. I have to say that I am deeply disturbed by what I interpret to be their (at least tacit) encouragement of strategic voting and organizing for the Democratic Party ticket.

…DSA will work with the emerging labor, immigrant, and anti-racist-led “Dump Trump” movement. For this reason, we do not endorse the #BernieOrBust tactic, though we understand the sentiment behind it. Our perspective can best be summarized as: “Dump the Racist Trump: Build the Left from the Grassroots Up.”

Although I certainly agree that a Trump Presidency would be a disaster, I also believe that a Clinton Presidency would be a disaster. The NPC’s strategy does call for turning a critical eye toward Clinton should she win, but placing emphasis on opposition to Trump alone during the campaign is a mistake, in my opinion. Socialists ought to take a principled stand to oppose both Trump and Clinton between now and November.

My own efforts will be in support of the Green Party candidacy of Dr. Jill Stein. It’s way past time to break with the Democratic Party and build a true party of the people.

I hold no illusions that someone other than Trump or Clinton shall prevail in 2016, but I cannot in good conscience lend my support nor my vote to someone I consider to be an enemy of working people. In the words of the great Eugene V. Debs,  “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it.”

I am thankful that the NPC anticipated and explicitly allowed for dissent within our ranks, and am certainly thankful that they didn’t endorse Clinton. This is one of those times, though, when I wonder whether I’m a member of the right organization.

Read the DSA Strategy Points Here: Talking Points for DSA’s Electoral Work between May and November 2016 – Democratic Socialists of America

★ ★ ★

Here are a few more relevant links.

This is why a Clinton Presidency cannot defeat Trump.

This is why I broke with the Democrats, and quit voting for the “lesser evil.”

This is why I voted Green in 2012. I’ve since joined the Green Party and am actively working for Jill Stein’s campaign.

Help Pass The LaSalle Street Tax


We are now in the twelfth month of an unprecedented budget crisis in the State of Illinois. It’s past time to move toward a progressive system of taxation that will ensure that the needs of the people are met, and the wealthy pay their fair share.

On Tuesday, June 7th, a joint Illinois Senate and House Subject Matter hearing on the proposed LaSalle Street Tax will be held at the Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle in Chicago. The legislation would impose a very small tax on the trading of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies and their derivatives. The average person pays more than six percent sales tax on purchases of daily necessities in our state, and yet the rich speculators pay absolutely no tax when buying or selling on the financial exchanges in Illinois. Although the proposed tax rate is very low, since the number of trades is so large, the LST would raise between 10 and 12 billion dollars per year for Illinois. Here’s a fact sheet on the tax from the Chicago Political Economy Group.

If you’d like to help advocate for this important step forward in Illinois, now is the time. Here’s how you can help.

  1. Fill out a witness slip stating simply that you are a SUPPORTER of the proposed legislation. It only takes a few minutes to complete the slip online saying that you support the bill (not that you’d like to appear as a witness).
  2. If you can spare some time tomorrow, rally with us at a press conference outside the Bilandic Building at 1 PM.
  3. If you can spare a little more time, attend the hearing at 2 PM. It’s scheduled to run until five o’clock, but if you can’t stay for the entire three hours, that’s alright.

If you’re concerned about our pensioners, our schools and effective human services in Illinois, please join in this important struggle.

How To Beat Trump

In Five Simple Steps


I keep reading articles with teasers like this in the title, but none seem to actually lay out any semblance of a plausible strategy. They make the case for doing something, with hypothetical (and often frantic) questions about what people might have done during Hitler’s rise to power, but then are incredibly thin on actual advice for what we should do here and now. This left me frustrated and depressed, until I realized that I shouldn’t wait for someone else to tell me what I needed to do. I should think about it and come up with a plan myself. So I did, and I have.

First, the caveats. Although the strategy outlined here truly is simple, it’s not easy. Some of it will require a great deal of hard work, dedication and sustained resolve. Even with all of that, success may seem evasive if not elusive.

Also, it needs to be said that I’m not a sociologist, historian, data analyst or professional political strategist. All I can offer is the work of an informed and engaged mind.

Finally, do not read this expecting a foolproof plan for keeping Donald Trump out of the White House in 2016. That would be one desired outcome, but it’s not the main goal. The main goal is to defeat not only Trump, but “Trumpism.” If we can pull that off, then it won’t matter nearly as much who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, because we will also have ushered in a new era in American politics where the people call the shots.

I don’t know if Trump’s rise is really comparable to Hitler’s. He’s certainly brought some of the most despicable and frightening tendencies in the body politic of our nation into the light of day. Whether or not he is the Antichrist of our era, in the vein of Hitler and Napoleon, it is crucial that we stand up to the racism, religious bigotry, warmongering, red-baiting, anti-intellectualism and other assorted evils and asshattery he proclaims. We must stand up, we must fight, and we must win.

So, take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee (or a tumbler of whiskey), and consider the following step-by-step outline for banishing The Donald to the footnotes of history.

Forget about the Presidential Election of 2016.
Okay, you don’t have to forget about it completely. But you do have to think beyond it. Part of the problem with our politics in this country is that every few years we get all wrapped up in election campaigns, we put all our energy into them, and that steals attention and resources from important things that we ought to be doing day in and day out in our own communities. If all you do is vote and encourage others to do so, we’ve already lost. Some of the most effective activists I know don’t vote at all, despite all of the hoopla and constant berating messages like “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” I vote, and I pay special attention to local and state races. I don’t discourage people from voting, but it is not the only thing. It’s not even the most important thing.

Do I really need to say it? CHICAGO.
On the evening of March 11th, the people of Chicago already showed us what to do. We will need to organize and mobilize thousands of people in all of our major cities who are willing to get out in the street and shut things down. This is important between now and November, but will be even more crucial after November should Trump prevail. Please note that what happened in Chicago was possible because of years of organization and struggle there, and because of the incredible spirit of solidarity in the town. Black Lives Matter supports the teachers. The CTU supports the Fight for Fifteen. Fight for Fifteen stands tall for immigrant rights. Each one of the significant social movements in the city recognizes the relationship between the other fights for justice and their own. This is why they were able to put their stunning demonstration together in less than a week. If you’re not organizing together with others in your community already, get to it.

Give the people what they need.
Donald Trump did not create his base. People know in their hearts that we’re all getting cheated and deceived by the ruling class in this country. We know that our political leaders present little but lies and empty promises. We know that they have no solutions. Neither the neoliberalism of the Democrats nor the corporate cronyism of the GOP offers a way forward to decent lives in the future. Defending the status quo or the lesser of two evils will not stem the current tide of lunacy. People who are frustrated and frightened are looking for real hope and real help.

Trump’s message is simple: authoritarian, nationalistic and populist. His mantra of “they’re killing us on trade” because our leaders aren’t strong and don’t know how to negotiate, resonates with people facing economic hardship (real or anticipated) after nearly four decades of neoliberalism.

Those of us who care about defeating Trump and his ilk must present a powerful, plausible alternative. More of the same won’t cut it.

Strike a blow for liberty. Screw the Democrats.
If we are to present an attractive alternative to Trump and his message, it will require an independent political movement of the great masses of working folks, and a willingness to break with the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton’s campaign, in particular, is a dead end. Showing any support for Clinton, either now or in the general election campaign, will be counterproductive. Whether or not she might beat Trump in 2016 is one question, but in the long run she cannot defeat Trumpism. Supporting her candidacy is not only wasted effort, it is destructive. This goes for any other Democrat who isn’t campaigning hard for things that will make a real difference in our lives and in the lives of our children. Things like single-payer universal health care, free tuition at public universities, a $15 minimum wage, higher taxes on Wall Street, opposition to big oil and smashing the oligarchy are a damned good list, for starters – and that brings me to my final point.

Support the Anti-Trump.
Despite my reasoned and heartfelt condemnation of the Democratic Party, as long as Sanders is in the race for their Presidential nomination, he will have my support. As far as the election of 2016 goes, he has been the single visible Trump antidote. Every day that Bernie is out there railing against the corporate stranglehold on our lives, it’s another opportunity for people to wake up and to feel a sense of what might be possible if thoughtful, decent people came together in large numbers to demand thoughtful, decent government. Although his populist economic message is similar in some ways to Trump’s, his prescriptions are sound. It is obvious that the Democratic Party does not share his zeal for economic justice, and his own foreign policy framework leaves a lot to be desired, but Sanders is focusing the public’s attention on issues and solutions that would have been left out of the discourse entirely absent his campaign. We can build on that, and we should do what we can to see that his message continues to be heard.

More than anything else, our opposition to the darkness in American politics must be based on real solutions, and on a willingness to get off our couches and out into the streets in pursuit of those solutions. Our determination and steadfastness in this effort may literally be the difference between life and death for many of us – perhaps even for humankind. In some ways I’m thankful to Donald Trump for shocking us out of our complacency.

Now let’s go kick his ass.

Southland Reading Group March Meeting

Tuesday Night March 15th at Feed

This month’s meeting of the Chicago Southland Jacobin Reading Group will be held at 7 PM on March 15th at Feed Arts & Cultural Center, 259 S. Schuyler in Kankakee. Come join us to talk about political realignment, radical feminism and the “small c” communism of Pete Seeger.

Find out more: Readings for March 2016 – Jacobin Reading Group – Chicago Southland

Chicago March for Bernie – February 2016

Photo by Bob Simpson

Our family was proud to be a part of the March for Bernie on Saturday, February 27th. It was a beautiful day in Chicago, and great to be among comrades. I offered to hold the banner for the Chicago DSA, not realizing that I was volunteering to help carry it along the route as well.

My pal Bob Simpson has a photo album up on Flickr that captures the spirit of the day.

Chicago March for Bernie Sanders: February 27 2016

I put a few shots of family and friends in a Flickr album too. The set is in reverse chronological order, starting with our ride home on the Metra.

Chicago March for Bernie 27 February 2016

Also, there’s this short video from the march.

This was our daughter Caroline’s first experience with a political event. She had a lovely time.


Building A Left Wing

Note: This is another short post about my personal political journey thus far, and about some efforts to help build an effective American Left in the 21st Century. Views and characterizations are my own. I do not speak for the organizations mentioned, nor for of any of my comrades. As always, comments are welcome.

turn-leftI’ve written previously about my political awakening which began in earnest a few years ago. Early on, I recognized the need to work together with others toward fundamental change. One of the things that I did was to join the Wobblies. I remain a faithful dues-paying member of the IWW, and now also carry a National Writers Union card. Union membership is something that I consider to be part of my core identity.

I also began to learn about political organizations on the broader left. There is a dizzying range of them in the United States. There are Social Democrats, and Democratic Socialists, and Feminist Socialists, and Committees of Correspondence, and Spartacists, and Trotskyists, and Marxists and Revolutionary Socialists and Anarcho-Syndicalists, and Christian Anarchists – and many, many others.

I studied lineages and politics and structure and governance and international affiliations and a host of other details about each group. The two organizations of most interest to me were the Democratic Socialists of America and the International Socialist Organization. Both have active Chicago chapters (which was important to me since we were anticipating a move north from Central Illinois to the Chicago Southland), both are relatively large organizations, and both have lineages that can be traced back to the heroes of 20th-century American radicalism.

I joined the DSA in early 2012.

In the four years since, my political education has continued. Two particularly important influences have been Marx’s writings and Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform Or Revolution. The idea that we cannot merely reform our way to a just society is now evident to me. This doesn’t mean that reforms aren’t important, but that we do have to have strategies beyond that. The more I’ve read and learned, the further left my politics have trended.

So I was delighted when a friend in another organization mentioned, in passing, the “left wing of the DSA around Jacobin.” Up until then, I had no idea that an organized “left wing” existed.

I contacted someone I knew at Jacobin, and they put me in touch with someone involved in the DSA Left Caucus. I was welcomed into the caucus in late April of 2015.

Although there is no litmus test nor a point-by-point statement of principles which a member is bound to accept, there seems to be general agreement across the caucus around the following ideas.

  • We’d like to see a greater focus on education in theory and history throughout our organization.
  • We are socialists, organizing for socialism. We’re not liberals or progressives or social democrats.
  • We are committed to solidarity with those who are most oppressed under capitalism including women, people of color, first peoples and LGBTQ people.
  • We believe in internationalism, and in showing solidarity with the struggles of oppressed people worldwide, particularly those who are victims of American imperialism.
  • We want to help build an independent socialist political movement in the United States while maintaining a flexible and undogmatic approach to elections in the meantime.
  • We are committed to building relationships across the American Left, and to pursuing a united front with comrades from other socialist organizations where possible.
  • We are committed to solidarity with our rank-and-file union sisters and brothers, and to supporting movements for union democracy.

The DSA is not only the largest explicitly socialist organization in the United States, it is one with a rich intellectual and activist history, and a structure that continues to guard against uncritical acceptance of predominant ideas. The Left Caucus provides auspices for thoughtful discussion and purposeful organization toward a more vibrant and effective DSA, and hence a more vibrant and effective American Left. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be learning and working alongside this group of exceptionally bright and committed activists.

with our current knows

I am totally wise to that Donald Trump.
Faith is President.
no leader, especially

will not allow Christianity to be

all talk, no action

The Pope only heard

If and when
as everyone
the Vatican is
unlike what is happening now

they are using the Pope and our leadership in every aspect

and as President I happened. I of negotiation.
I am proud to be a pawn
and they should be
consistently attacked and weakened

ISIS would have eradicated the Mexican government and its leadership in the United States

would have been

is happening now

He doesn’t see how
Trafficking and the negative
economic impact
didn’t see the crime

the Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama to question another man’s religion or faith.

Crime, the drug.

Jeremy Corbyn Interview

Red Pepper interviewed the Labour Party leader and asked if it was his sense that the same type of thing (insurgent political campaigns from the Left achieving victory against all odds) is happening elsewhere.

Yes. Because this wasn’t anything to do with me. This was to do with people wanting a different way of doing politics – particularly the young people who came in and were very enthusiastic. Our campaign was a combination of the young and the old, very little in between, the middle-aged weren’t there. They were either under 30 or over 60, most of the people that came in to work on the campaign, and the phone-banking they did was quite extraordinary. There was one of them where I witnessed this 18-year-old Asian girl with a burka explaining to a 90-year-old white woman how to operate the mobile phone to make calls, and they were both getting on just fine. And it was kind of lovely.

Read the interview: ‘What we’ve achieved so far’: an interview with Jeremy Corbyn | Red Pepper

blackface massacree

30 years defending poor blacks
and this undermines those efforts

his wife, in the 2012 election, denies leaking

elin nordegren
came close to brief comment:
“i wouldn’t dress up.”

he suspects that enforcement
is calling for white performers
who use black paint
for a protest
and then gag his opponents

the other republican running was part of a couple’s costume

the former lead
which began making a job that he’s not capable of
tried to explain, hearkening back to a style
to bow out of and act out
insulting black stereotypes
like a battered tiger woods.

days of slavery

persisting for decades

but what has given fuel to the president of the local 9-iron?