Madison Democratic Socialists of America

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Madison Democratic Socialists of America is a Wisconsin affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America.

New beginnings

In 1993 a group of DSAers reformed an organizing committee in Madison. The group began meeting regularly, and concentrated on labor solidarity projects and the campaign for national health insurance.

The committee hoped to hold its first major public event in early summer.[1]

Manski meeting

In 1996 Madison Area DSA OC hosted a discussion on "Corporate Power* with Ben Manski.[2]

Coalition work

According to 2000, local contact George Robson,"most of our activities are in coalitions, including the Coalition for Wisconsin Health, Network for Peace and Justice, Gray Panthers, Democratic Party, Progressive Dane, and the Progressive Roundtable".[3]

2002 "Radfest"/meeting old socialist

Madison Area DSA sponsored a workshop on equitable taxation at the Midwest Radfest, an annual event for community activists and progressive academics in late May. Its workshop on Tax Literacy for Progressives included a preliminary tax quiz and a panel with Mike Prokosch (United for Fair Economy), Mark Pocan (progressive legislator from Wisconsin), Jon Peacock (state budget analyst from the Wisconsin Commission on Children and Families), and moderator Frank Emspak from the University of Wisconsin School for Workers.

In late August local members met with Mary Jo Uphoff, one of the major movers in the Socialist Party USA in Wisconsin in the late 1940s and 1950s. She shared some history, including tales of her personal encounters with Norman Thomas.[4]

2005 "Radfest"

In 2005, almost 500 community activists and left academics chose among 48 panels, 2 plenary sessions, and a parallel festival of political films and documentaries at the Midwest Social Forum, better known as Radfest, June 3-5th. At “Winning the Battle against Wal-Mart,” sponsored by the Madison Area DSA local, around 30 people listened to short presentations by the five panelists, followed by discussion and comments.

Economist Ron Baiman, a DSA NPC member from Chicago, summarized a study he co-authored that counters Wal-Mart’s claims about job creation and then detailed the ongoing attempts to pass a city big-box ordinance that would force Wal- Mart (and others) to provide a living wage in Chicago stores.

Buzz Davis, Madison Area DSA member from Stoughton, reported on the town’s two-year struggle to prevent Wal-Mart from annexing a large parcel of land outside the municipality in order to transform an existing store into a Supercenter. He emphasized mistakes of his local citizens group that should teach us some useful lessons: lack of a steering committee, lack of defined objectives, lack of outreach to the affected business community, and lack of a positive vision (instead of a purely negative approach aimed against Wal-Mart), and he advised that an effective community group must operate like a political campaign.

Beth Gehred and Kitty Welch from Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin, reported on how their community group used weaknesses in the governing system to undermine a Wal-Mart initiative that would have the town annex adjacent farmland for a new Supercenter. Beth Gehred , who was appointed to a town ad hoc committee in an attempt to co-opt her group’s opposition, was able to implement a strategy of transparency and community accountability. The town had recently passed its own state-mandated master plan forbidding big-box sprawl within its borders, so this ultimately became the trump card that led to Wal-Mart’s defeat. The struggle continues now ina nearby community (5 miles down the highway), which is using lessons learned in Ft. Atkinson to good effect.

Carl Davidson, a seasoned community activist from Chicago, gave a well-received slide presentation on the global implications of Wal-Mart’s economic imperatives. He analyzed exactly how the stockholder profit mentality undermines a responsible, stakeholder approach to community growth and discussed some alternatives, such as consumer cooperatives in France and Spain (the co-mart model). The discussion made clear how Wal-Mart depends on a sophisticated playbook to guide its penetration of rural and urban communities and deftly play groups, neighborhoods and cities off each other to get its way. At least two conclusions emerged from the panel discussion: those who want to fight Wal-Mart need 1) to join forces at least regionally if not state-wide and 2) to develop their own playbook with effective strategies.[5]

2013 activists

Madison Democratic Socialists of America activists in 2013 included Treasurer Vince Hotter, activists Red Wagner, Tony Schmitt, Brian McLoone.[6]

DSA Madison February 2017 meeting

Madisiniop.JPG

Public · Hosted by Democratic Socialists of America - Madison

Wednesday, February 15 at 7 PM - 8:30 PM CST

Madison Public Library, 201 W Mifflin St, Madison, Wisconsin 53703.

References

  1. Dem.Left, May/June 1993, page 11.
  2. Dem. Left May/June 1996
  3. Dem. Left, fall 2000
  4. Dem. Left Winter 2002
  5. Democratic Left • Summer 2005
  6. [ https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7x18SmhmJsta0ZjeXBTOUI4YkE/edit?pli=1, Madison DSA Summer 2013 newsletter]