Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Brief and Incomplete Review of the DSA

The failed primary candidacy of Bernard Sanders (I. VT) has left in its wake a nothing if not overstated schism within the Democratic Party. I am somewhat hesitant to even say within the party, as Bernard himself and many of his acolytes are decidedly outside of it. I would further suggest that one who did not vote for Ms. Clinton in November is certainly out of bounds to suggest to the Democratic party on how it should conduct itself. And yet it is in this much ballyhooed rift we see the influence of the Democratic Socialists of America, abbreviated throughout the following as DSA.  I found Bernard to be disingenuous throughout his primary run, but realized I don’t know enough about the organization that has suddenly been thrust into my consciousness as the only true bastion of liberalism remaining in America; at least, that’s according to what several Twitter profiles with red roses have told me in no uncertain terms.
I deign to have no false deifications in my life, and am continually perturbed by those who would insist divine attributes to Bernard. The most common of which is the patently false claim that he “would have won” the general election. Leaving aside the fact he suffered a brutal drubbing in the primary, the premise itself is a classic unknowable quality and unworthy of any consideration. Though I do not personally recall the DSA playing a prominent role in his prolonged stump speech of a campaign, its adherents are now quite convinced of their importance and supremacy. Again, the hubris of losing a primary and then insisting that the path of the also-ran is the correct one is baffling.
Who is the DSA? Upon reaching their website, the first thing I see is a picture and quote from Cornel West. Recent memory reminds us that West was appointed to the 2016 Democratic Platform Committee by Bernard. Following that venture, West proceeded to campaign on behalf of Green Party perennial nominee and WiFi fear monger, Jill Stein. West also achieved some notoriety in the past for insisting that President Obama was a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and he said on CNN in 2015, "I would say the first black president has become the first n*gg*rized black president." Appointing him to the committee was one of Bernard’s many mistakes and the DSA makes it quite clear that they are proud to tout the support of someone who so callously disparages arguably the most successful black man our nation has ever seen. This is not convincing me that they want to work with Democrats, but rather supplant them.
Another interesting thing I noticed on the website:
“Standing Up to Hate Emergency Response
In response to the anti-Mexican, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-refugee anti-woman and general hate-mongering coming from Donald Trump and the way he is creating space for racist extremists to mobilize, DSA local chapters are reaching out to immigrant rights organizations, mosques and others who may be targets for violence. We are mobilizing to spread the message that hate only creates more hate, and we will continue to resist him and what he represents. Longer term, DSA chapters will work to build a multi-racial democratic socialist movement that is forthrightly anti-racist and includes white poor and working class and rural folks.”
Read that first sentence a few times. Something is missing. There is a group that has suffered an 86% increase in incidents directed at them since January 2017 that the DSA has chosen to ignore entirely. It’s a group for whom Trump advisor Steve Bannon has a long history of disdain. Thanks DSA, good to know who you are here for, or aren’t.
Here’s something they say about Israel:
“We also join with the European Union and most progressive religious organizations in the United States in supporting a boycott of goods and services produced by Israeli and foreign corporations in the occupied territories and for divestment from companies such as Caterpillar and Motorola that economically benefit from the occupation. (Such a policy is commonly known as “partial” boycott, divestment and sanctions.)”
Here we have the DSA explicitly endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Let me be as unambiguous as possible: BDS is inherently anti-Semitic.  “Every country has its faults. It is legitimate to disagree with some of Israel’s policies. But to single out Israel and to hold it to a different standard than any other nation in the world – is antisemitic.” Gila Gamliel in the Jerusalem Post 2/6/17. There’s no better way to say it.
Here’s what they say about Bernard’s campaign corpse:
“The Bernie Sanders Campaign
DSA is proud of our local chapters around the country that supported Bernie Sanders' campaign to win the nomination for President in the Democratic Party. This was a grassroots "independent expenditure" campaign to start a political revolution in this country that will continue long after the 2016 campaign is over. DSA was telling America that #WeNeedBernie to make the democratic socialist movement strong - and we continue building that message. Given the presidential election results, the need for a strong democratic socialist voice at the grassroots is more clear than ever.”
This is a telling and false conclusion. Given the presidential election results, we need to abolish the Electoral College. This notion that there is some sort of undercurrent of voters yearning for the DSA is a purely confirmation biased reading of synthetic tea leaves. I will say again, anyone who voted for Bernard in the primary but abandoned Secretary Clinton in the general is only slightly less reprehensible than an actual Trump voter. It’s clear the DSA did exactly that; sorry guys, you’re bad at building coalitions.
An aside about the DSA Constitution: it contains no guarantee of freedom of religious expression. (Feel free to correct me if I somehow missed it)
The DSA website still contains a press release statement indicating their disappointment at Keith Ellison’s defeat regarding the DNC chair post. One might find it odd that an organization who did not support the Democratic candidate for president , would have such a vested interest in who leads the party. I would submit this: they are attempting to co-opt leadership in the Democratic Party by actively undermining from the outside and from within.
I have said in the past I believe the far left, alt-left, DSA has been dramatically overestimating their influence on national politics. Let’s have an unscientific look at some numbers.
DSA followers on Twitter: 80,800.
Democrats Twitter profile followers: 1.3 million.
Likes on the DSA facebook page: 127,3224.
Likes on the Democrat’s facebook page: 1,535,575.
Votes for Bernard in the 2016 primary: 13,206,428.
Votes for Secretary Clinton in the 2016 primary: 16,914,722 (13% margin of victory)
Bear in mind, these numbers come at a time when the DSA has never been more visible. This is not an uprising or revolution any more than the half-baked (connotation intended) Ron Paul fans were. Obama in 08 was a revolution. (Obama in 08 is the only person to earn more popular votes than Secretary Clinton in 2016). This is the very small, but very vocal fringe. I don’t object to this fringe existing, but I do object to their hubris and insistence that theirs is the one true path of liberalism.
What is so confounding is that all indications point to just how marginal they are. The DSA held a People’s Summit in Chicago on June 9. According to their facebook page a staggering 172 people actually went.  The DSA boasts of having 24,000 members, that’s still less than the undergraduate population of my alma mater, about a third the size of my hometown.
To put it simply: I don’t trust the DSA as an organization. They do not reflect my values in the general and in fact run in direct opposition to some of them specifically. On an intellectual level they are fundamentally dishonest about their influence and relevance. It is not for the DSA to dictate how liberals at large should behave. The onus is on the DSA to provide an argument as to why they should be considered at all beyond their own narrow scope.

Final fun fact: it was the German Social Democrats who failed to build a sufficient coalition government to resist the rise of the Nazis.