The founder of Democratic Socialists of America, Michael Harrington, advocated for “nonreformist reforms,” progressive policy changes that could empower all Americans and give them a greater say in politics and the economy. These “nonreformist reforms” could eventually lead to radical change in American politics and the economy to create a society that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.
Democratic Socialists of America is a multi-tendency organization, meaning that our members fall along a broad range of ideological lines on the Left, from the radical Anarcho-syndicalists, Marxist-Leninists to social democrats and everything in between. We also welcome anyone who just wants to learn more about progressive politics.
Below is a sample of our stances on many economic and social issues, though we are a “big tent” organization that doesn’t require people to share our views on everything. If you’d like to become involved in our work regarding any of these issues, check out our ongoing campaigns, committees, and caucuses, which are always looking for new people to help out!
Fight for 15…And a Union!
Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America has participated in local actions to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage. Ideally, the minimum wage should be a living wage so that American workers are not left struggling and in poverty. Many of our members also support the notion of a universal basic income so that everyone can meet their basic needs in our society. However, a vital component of instituting a living wage must include supporting the rights of workers to organize their workplaces and collectively bargain. While raising the minimum wage on its own would empower workers as consumers, fighting to make the minimum wage a living wage while also supporting unions would empower workers by giving them a greater say in the running of their workplaces and the assurances that they could protect their rights and benefits.
Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America is currently engaged in many activities in Washington, DC, to promote racial justice. We have been longtime advocates for DC statehood, which would grant representation to the majority Black community in Washington, DC, which currently does not have a vote in Congress. Metro DC DSA is also active in efforts to oppose the gentrification of DC’s neighborhoods and promote affordable housing for everyone. Additionally, Metro DC DSA supports an end to mass incarceration, prison reform and and end to for-profit prisons, as well as protections for voting rights. Many of our members are also involved in #BlackLivesMatter and Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).
Reproductive Rights and Gender Justice
Many members of Metro DC Democratic Socialists consider ourselves socialist feminists, meaning that we are committed to exploring the intersections between class and gender as well as the ways in which capitalism specifically oppresses women. A key component of gender justice is reproductive freedom, and we have hosted and participated in many fundraising events for the local DC Planned Parenthood and the DC Abortion Fund. Metro DC DSA also supports universal childcare and the right of poor women, particularly women of color, to raise their children free from the threat of police violence.
Marriage is just the beginning for ensuring equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Democratic socialists support the rights of LGBTQ workers to be free from discrimination by their employers. The national Democratic Socialists of America has called for increased local and national protections for LGBTQ workers, students and parents.
End Student Debt
A key issue for Democratic Socialists of America, both nationally and locally in the DC area, is equal access to higher education. Crippling future generations with seemingly endless debt is no way to treat our young people or build our future economy. Education should be seen as a right, and Metro DC Democratic Socialists advocate for free higher education for all.
Environmental Justice and Sustainability
In seeking short-term profits, capitalism ignores the long-term consequences of its actions, particularly in regard to the impacts of never-ending expansion on the environment. The burdens of pollution are disproportionately shouldered by poor Americans, particularly people of color, and include devastating health problems such as asthma, emphysema and cancer, among others. The 2014 Elk River chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, and the lead water crisis currently affecting Flint, Michigan, are just two examples of the many disasters that ruin our environment and harm working class people. Furthermore, as climate change irreversibly impacts our atmosphere’s temperature, wipes our numerous unique species of animals and threatens the cultures and lives of people living in island nations in the Pacific, we all must act quickly to reduce carbon emissions and invest in sustainable, renewable energy. Unfortunately, wealthy energy companies have invested instead in campaigns to spread misinformation about climate change and convince the public and our elected officials that the issue is still up for debate. Tackling climate change will require a radical restructuring of our energy industry and our economy as a whole so that sustainability, not short-term profit, is our society’s priority.
Single-Payer Healthcare or “Medicare for All”
Healthcare is a human right. No one should be denied care, face a lifetime of debt or need to set up a crowdfunding campaign simply to receive treatment. Our current system of for-profit care is inefficient, expensive and ineffective. A national, single-payer healthcare system, sometimes called “Medicare for All,” would drastically cut and standardize costs while assuring that everyone is guaranteed access to healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) does not go far enough in facilitating access to care while also continuing to leave control over care in the hands of profit-driven insurance companies. Fortunately, more and more Americans are beginning to support a single-payer healthcare system, and some states, such as California and Vermont, have put forth bills that would implement statewide single-payer systems.
Electing Democratic Socialists and Progressive Democrats to Office
None of the issues listed above can be implemented unless we have elected leaders who listen to the people rather than the corporate lobbyists. To that end, Metro DC Democratic Socialists have endorsed and campaigned for local progressive officials including Eugene Puryear, Andy Shallal and Grayland Haglar, among others. We also campaigned on behalf of Bernie Sanders for president, and Democratic Socialists of America was one of the first organizations to encourage Bernie Sanders to run. Like Bernie Sanders, we support efforts to get big money out of politics, overturn Citizens United reform our electoral system so that third-party candidates have a greater opportunity to make their voices heard.