Michael Lighty
2 min readOct 30, 2019

DSA and Our Political Moment

It’s an amazing moment to be a member of the Democratic Socialists of America — 60,000 of us and growing! Long-time democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is the most prominent progressive of our time. Many, if not most people in the US struggle to make ends meet under capitalism and say it has failed. A majority of millennials prefer socialism to capitalism.

To top it off, we can elect Bernie Sanders President of the United States.

(Pause to re-read.)

That puts whatever DSA organizational differences and dynamics in the proper perspective.

Since the industrial revolution, socialists have called out inequality and organized to win justice for workers. In short, we seek to control the value of our labor, so that what we produce benefits the workers who produce it.

That’s the opposite of today’s economy, and workers know it:

American workers produce more per hour since the mid-1970’s, but our average wage has not gone up

The top 1% have taken $21 trillion since 1989

Top CEO’s make 842 times more than workers

Not a surprise that demands for economic and social justice motivate movements to take back our wealth from the ruling elite. The organizing by DSA members and the organizational priorities adopted at this summer’s convention do precisely that: build worker power and demand the conversion of for-profit industries to public goods that meet human needs.

Whether it’s labor solidarity for striking teachers, or the pressure campaign to win Medicare For All, developing an Eco-Socialist Green New Deal or electing socialists to local and congressional office, organizing tenants unions and a housing guarantee, or ensuring women can get an abortion (since that too is an economic justice and feminist demand), DSA members lead and fill the ranks of justice movements.

Now we are organizing to elect Bernie Sanders. (I’ve been fortunate to join Bernie2020 to promote his Medicare for All program.) Both inside and outside the official campaign, DSAers are knocking on doors, calling to win, posting pro-Sanders videos, and doing the issue work that animates the electoral campaign.

This is as it should be. Now is the time to focus on birthing the better world.

Internal organizational work is important, and we need to effectively “sequence” our organizational work. Having improved internal democracy, enhanced by the election of a National Political Committee that represents all political tendencies within DSA, we have the foundation to do what independent political organizations do — win political victories.

There is broad consensus within DSA that electing Bernie Sanders President is what’s best for our organization and our movement. That’s not an exclusive focus for DSA members, but as a democratic collective, responsible to ourselves and our communities, with the planet and history in mind, let’s keep our eyes on that prize.

Michael Lighty

Founding Fellow, The Sanders Institute; Former Director of Public Policy, National Nurses United.