The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. We are socialists because we believe that our work and economy should be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create products, not for the profit of the ownership class. We struggle for a socialist, feminist, and anti-racist transformation of our society for the benefit of all, not the few.
Our chapter democratically votes on any recommendations and endorsements that are proposed by members. For those interested, the difference between recommendations and endorsements (as defined by resolutions approved by our general membership) is elaborated in the appendix at the end of the guide.
This is the first national election where the pandemic has essentially been normalized as shown by the Biden administration declaring the "Pandemic is over," even as we know it's not. A potential surge in cases looms this winter, bringing more illness and death, and our political leadership has moved on from protecting our health. The latest vaccines are barely advertised. Regular Covid testing requires health insurance. Medicare For All is a non-starter.
All this is to say, we're a long way from the start of the pandemic in 2020 when early organizing efforts were sustained by optimism, unemployment checks, and dedication to protecting each other. The surge in leftist organizing was further galvanized by the George Floyd uprisings, but two years later, the capacities of the working class have been depleted by lack of resources, by death, by scarcity, and by a forced return-to-normal that has seen wages stagnate as price increases are driven by corporate profiteering.
Since Trump's defeat in 2020, the Democratic Party has taken a stance of defending its modest victories, even while normalizing many of Trump's policies and repudiating the gains it made on the backs of local organizers. Democrats all over the country are both broadly embracing a crime panic narrative that defends police but does not keep people safe. Our leaders choose, repeatedly, to fund war and state violence, but do not provide stable housing, food, education, for the working class. Meanwhile, an increasingly dangerous Republican Party, emboldened by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, continues threatening democracy itself. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer, the reality is setting in that nothing won since the civil rights movement is sacred. And yet with so much at stake in these midterm elections, the energy around Democrats seems tepid at best.
Here in New Orleans, the slump in electoral energy is palpable, with a few exceptions. The galvanizing efforts and insurgent campaigns from 2020 and 2021 elections – Flip the Bench, the People's DA Coalition, for example – are unsustained. There are plenty of judges running unopposed. Progressive organizations have stepped up their efforts in recent years, but disengagement and disillusionment in New Orleans electoral politics are very real and persistent. We saw this last year: only 29% of eligible voters came out to the polls in November 2021, and 22% turned out in December. Approval of our leaders is at an all time low. The mayor is embroiled in an escalating power dispute with the City Council, and is also facing a recall.
This is not to say that the Left is dormant here in New Orleans — rather, the political activities of organizers are bubbling to the surface in very real and potent ways. New Orleans workers at Starbucks and at Lowe’s recently filed for union votes, both with independent unions. The New Orleans City Workers Organizing Committee, along with other groups like Step Up, were able to secure an increase to the living wage for city workers. As a chapter and as socialists, we have plenty of victories to build on as well. New Orleans DSA joined a coalition with the Renters’ Rights Assembly to organize and win a Right to Counsel ordinance for all renters, providing legal representation for anyone facing eviction. Pressure on City Council to hold a moratorium on shutoffs was successful for Entergy and Sewerage & Water Board bills, though Entergy’s moratorium is set to expire November 1st. Notably, we are continuing to fight back with a campaign of direct action, organizing a drive of 10,000 residents pledging to withhold payments unless demands are met to put an end to residential shutoffs, and to cancel all utility debt for residents dating back to the start of the pandemic. (You can learn about the debt strike and take that pledge today at MakeEntergyPay.com)
While many of these races may end poorly for the working class, with the specter of disaster closing in, we must double down in our efforts to protect each other. In the words of our recently fallen comrade Mike Davis, “What keeps us going, ultimately, is our love for each other, and our refusal to bow our heads, to accept the verdict, however all-powerful it seems. It’s what ordinary people have to do. You have to love each other. You have to defend each other. You have to fight.” We will never stop fighting. We hope you make our struggle your struggle. Read the guide, vote, then join us. We have a whole world to win.