What Is The DSA?
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. As of July 2018 it boasts a membership of over 45,000 people from all over the country. DSA's members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics. We do this by identifying and combating the root of systemic issues - not just their symptoms.
Racism, sexism, and transphobia. Poverty and homelessness. Corruption in politics. The destruction of unions. Environmental catastrophe. War and imperialism. All of it stems from capitalism.
But a better world is possible. A better world is achievable. And it's not going to trickle down from the top - it's going to grow from the bottom up.
What Does The DSA Do?
The strength of DSA lies in its chapters and their actions reflect the ambition and compassion of the organization as a whole. Good work is being done across the country at the grassroots level, from electoral politics to mutual aid.
The DSA is not a political party, but chapters and the national organization do endorse and support candidates at all levels of government that embrace its ideals and run as open socialists. These include bold candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Lee Carter in Virginia, and Summer Lee in Pennsylvania.
National working groups have been established to organize around important issues like Medicare For All, labor, socialist feminism, climate and environmental justice, and many more. Chapters are also encouraged to form their own local versions of these working groups, or to create entirely new working groups to take on issues specific to their communities.
The mutual aid work that DSA chapters have embarked upon is truly inspiring. Houston DSA has been involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts for nearly a year now, helping to muck and gut homes flooded by the storm. New Orleans DSA pioneered the concept of brake light clinics, wherein volunteers replace brake lights for free in order to prevent traffic stops which can be especially dangerous for people of color and undocumented immigrants - an idea that has been embraced and replicated by dozens of chapters across the country. Actions like these embody the heart and soul of what democratic socialism is about and demonstrate the power of organizing and effecting change at a local level.
The first meeting of the Sangamon County DSA was held in September of 2017 and grew in membership so quickly that we became an official chapter in December of the same year. Our mission is to organize our members and the community around issues both local and national. We stand in solidarity with all those whose lives have been exploited and oppressed by capitalism - even if they don't realize it yet.
We hold regular general meetings (currently bi-monthly) which consist of political discussion and education, planning future actions, and voting on chapter business. Some of the guest speakers we've had include IL-13 Democratic candidate David Gill, Jonna Cooley from the Phoenix Center, and Illinois State Rep. Will Guzzardi. In addition to our general meetings we also hold meetings for specific issues like labor and Medicare For All, as well as social events like happy hours or family-friendly cookouts. Check out our events page to see what's coming up! Membership isn't required to attend our events, but only members can vote on chapter business.
You may feel like you don't have a voice. You may think that other activist organizations are too performative. Maybe you just want to do something good in the face of a world that insists evil is the only option. Whatever the reason, this is where you belong.