Meet the Candidates
The 2023 DSA National Convention will be held in Chicago from Friday, August 4 to Sunday, August 6. For more information, please check the official DSA convention website. Bread & Roses is proud to be proposing a host of ideas to the convention and running a number of candidates for DSA's National Political Committee.
What could DSA be by 2030?
A party-like electoral organization with a strong national profile and identity, disciplined elected officials who see themselves as tribunes for working-class people, and hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who support and vote year in and year out for the DSA candidates in their districts. A party-like organization that champions fights against racism, sexism, the anti-trans rights movement, and other far right forces and organizes fights for big and bold reforms.
A union organizing center for tens or hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file labor organizers and a massive solidarity network capable of mobilizing working-class communities around the country. Working side-by-side with many more workplace activists, DSA labor organizers could help rebuild and grow U.S. unions into a fighting, democratic, and left-wing labor movement.
A key part of a growing international left with relations with democratic socialist parties all around the world, working together to build a democratic socialism for the 21st century that is thoroughly anti-imperialist, ecological, and committed to fighting against oppression and authoritarianism.
A powerful, effective, and democratic membership group that trains a new generation of democratic socialist organizers in how to run campaigns; that recruits and develops more socialists with a special focus on supporting working-class, female, queer, and Black and brown organizers; and that lives democracy in our politics every day.
We in Bread & Roses want to work with the big tent of DSA to make this vision of a new, better, and bolder DSA a reality. We’re going into the 2023 DSA National Convention with this vision in mind. And while our focus in 2023 is on labor, electoral politics, internationalism, and internal organizing and reform, we’re excited to support work being done by other groups and tendencies in DSA to build important campaigns for civil rights, housing justice, a Green New Deal, and more.
Our Movement and the Moment
Beating Back the Far Right and Building an Electoral Alternative
In 2024, centrist Democrats and far right Republicans will fight to take power in D.C. and state capitals all across the country. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are neck and neck in most polls. The threat of an even more dangerous and more authoritarian Republican presidential administration than any that have come before feels more real this summer than it has in recent memory.
We know that Democrats have no real strategy for defeating the far right in 2024 or beyond. Some argue that we need to join a “popular front” with Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in order to beat the Republicans. This is a trap and a mistake. It will take an independent, democratic socialist alternative to galvanize the left-wing of the Democrats’ working-class base and to unite them with the millions of working-class nonvotes to permanently deny the far right a majority — and ultimately move us towards a more humane and just world. DSA can be a key part of building this alternative, if we can create a stronger, more party-like national organization.
DSA’s National Electoral Commission has done good work in supporting DSA’s electoral strategy, but we think that it can be bolder and create a more clearly-defined national strategy for DSA’s chapters. That’s why we have put forward Consensus Resolution Amendment I: Act Like an Independent Party, an amendment to the NEC resolution. Act Like an Independent Party would have DSA take meaningful steps to do just that, from building our own voter and volunteer lists to developing a national identity for DSA electoral campaigns. We also submitted Member-Submitted Resolution 2: Defend Democracy through Political Independence. Defend Democracy lays out a strategy for fighting the right and beating back attacks on trans rights, Black people, abortion rights, labor rights, and more in 2024 without sacrificing our political independence from Joe Biden and the corporate Democratic Party.
We’re also proud to be running Alex Pellitteri from NYC-DSA for the National Political Committee, who has significant experience as an electoral organizer for several of NYC-DSA’s winning campaigns. If elected to the NPC, Alex will work to turn the ideas in Act Like an Independent Party into a reality on the NPC.
A Labor Upsurge?
As real as the threat from the far right is, we also can’t lose sight of the huge and growing opportunity before us: the rising interest in union organizing among bigger and bigger groups in society plus the stunning achievements of the union reform movement in recent years. Young people especially are interested in joining unions and building labor’s power. Big national reform caucuses like Unite All Workers for Democracy and Teamsters for a Democratic Union are helping transform major U.S. unions into fighting operations that can win better contracts for their members and organize unorganized workers — and this work is happening at the local level, too.
The rank-and-file strategy, which both DSA and Bread & Roses proudly champion, is bearing fruit. Now more than ever, we need to double down on building rank-and-file power and transforming unions at the national and local levels, and doing more than ever to support projects like Labor Notes that are helping to build the class-struggle union movement. Doing so is the path to building worker power in the economy, and it’s also a key to changing political consciousness and building a left-wing electoral alternative to the far right.
DSA’s National Labor Commission has drafted an excellent consensus resolution along these lines, and we are proud to support it. The NLC consensus resolution would have DSA continue the work of sending our members to get union jobs and work to transform their unions. It would commit us to supporting important labor projects like the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee and Labor Notes.
We’re proud to be running Laura Wadlin from Portland, Oregon for the National Political Committee, who would help ensure that the NLC resolution gets fully implemented. Laura is an ESL instructor and a steward with her union at Portland Community College. Last year she was cochair of Portland DSA and has helped lead much of the chapter's impressive strike solidarity work.
Working Across Borders for Democratic Socialism and Against Imperialism and Climate Catastrophe
On the world stage, the moment calls for a strong democratic socialist movement that is strengthening relationships across borders and learning from all the different national experiments in rebuilding the socialist movement. Only an internationally-oriented, democratic socialist movement can really take on climate catastrophe and fight back against the return of inter-imperial rivalries. Only an internationally-oriented democratic socialist movement in the U.S. can really challenge U.S. imperialism and create space for the left and social movements around the world to break with global capitalism.
DSA needs to be part of rebuilding this internationalist, anti-imperialist, and democratic global left. We can take big strides in this direction by adopting a big tent approach to building international relations, working with parties in and out of government, from left-wing social democratic and populist parties to multi-tendency left parties and parties and organizations that have embraced a more democratic orientation coming out of the various communist, Maoist, and Trotskyist traditions. We also need to be consistent allies of movements around the world fighting for democracy and self determination.
DSA’s International Commission has done admirable work in starting to build these bonds. We have some disagreements with some comrades on the IC though in terms of who we build relationships with and how we as DSA respond to international events. We want DSA to be a more reliable supporter of movements for democracy abroad and to not withhold support for democratic movements in countries where the governing regime is not a U.S. ally. The fight for democracy and a better world is happening in struggles against the ruling governments in Israel and Hungary, but it’s also happening in fights against the ruling governments in Venezuela, Russia, and Nicaragua. DSA has been a consistent ally of popular movements in Israel and Hungary, but has been reluctant to support popular movements in Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, and beyond. That needs to change. That’s why we submitted Consensus Resolution Amendment C: For a Class-Struggle Internationalism. Our vision of international solidarity is one that unites all working people fighting against ruling classes and authoritarian governments.
Building a Fighting, Effective, and Democratic Membership Organization
A national big tent, multi-tendency, and democratic membership organization was a dream of many on the U.S. left for decades before 2016. DSA has become that organization. It’s our political home and we in Bread & Roses are proud to be part of it.
We’re concerned about DSA’s health and its effectiveness at the national level, and we want to use the 2023 DSA National Convention and the 2023-2025 National Political Committee term to start to address those concerns. A dip in membership numbers, the absence of prominent DSA spokespeople, and a growing sense that the senior directorial staff in DSA’s national office try to shape the priorities of the organization’s democratically elected leaders rather than taking direction from them are holding DSA back.
That’s why we’ve proposed a host of changes to DSA. Member-Submitted Resolution 3: Resolution on Full-time National Chairs would allow DSA to elect two full-time spokespeople to represent DSA nationally. Member-Submitted Resolution 8: For a Political, Prolific and Democratic DSA Editorial Board — which we proposed with other DSA tendencies — would revamp DSA's official publications and put them under the leadership of a democratically-chosen editorial board. Member-Submitted Resolution 16: Renew the National Activist Conference would bring back a national conference for DSA activists in the off-years between national conventions, creating more space for our members to meet and learn from each other. Finally, Member-Submitted Resolution 10: Launch a Democracy Commission for DSA looks to the future. It would create a multi-tendency committee to make recommendations for how DSA can be more fully transformed at the 2025 National Convention.
We’re also proud to be running Kristin Schall, an at-large member of DSA at the moment (future member of Mid-Hudson Valley DSA), for National Political Committee. Kristin is a preschool teacher and a mother. She has organized on the left for over 20 years and has extensive experience and a deep interest in building a more democratic, member-driven organization. Kristin will work tirelessly on the NPC to make DSA a more effective and democratic organization.
Bread & Roses has written or cowritten with other tendencies seven proposals to DSA’s national convention. We’re also a strong supporter of, and our members helped draft, the DSA’s National Labor Commission’s consensus resolution to recommit to, and deepen our work inspired by, the rank-and-file strategy. As we described above, these proposals are designed to move DSA towards becoming a party-like electoral organization, a union organizing center for socialist rank-and-file labor activists, a key part of the growing international left, and a powerful, effective, and democratic membership group.
In the weeks to come before the 2023 DSA National Convention, Bread & Roses will also be meeting to discuss our orientation to the dozens of other proposals for campaigns, organizational reforms, and tactical and strategic orientations put forward by others in DSA. While labor, electoral, international, and internal DSA organizing are the main focus of B&R’s attention at the 2023 DSA National Convention, we are also interested in learning about and supporting the work of others in DSA in fighting for civil rights, housing justice, a Green New Deal, and so much more.
We’re proud to support Alex Pelitterri (New York City DSA), Kristin Schall (At large), and Laura Wadlin (Portland DSA) as candidates for the National Political Committee of DSA. Alongside B&R’s candidates for YDSA’s National Coordinating Committee, Alex, Kristin, and Laura will work to build a fighting, democratic, and effective DSA. If you agree with our vision, rank them at the top of your ballot at the 2023 DSA National Convention.