Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America

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Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America


Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America is the The Twin Cities chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.

Elected Officers, 2017

The two Co-chairs, who must be of different genders, serve as official contacts and spokespersons for external communication and convene Steering Committee meetings and quarterly member meetings.

Officials

History/Influencing the DFL

There has been a Twin Cities Local of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for as long as there has been a DSA. The activity level, membership level and name recognition of DSA in the Twin Cities has waxed and waned over that period. In the 1980s, the group was very involved primarily in the peace movement and opposing the covert wars in Central America, aligned with religious socialism, the sanctuary church movement, and to some extent, local unions and leftist academics. Then there was a time when our closest alliances were with Native American activists, as we joined in to the counter-protests defending Ojibwe spearfishing and had Rev. Steve Charleston, a Native American clergyman, as a chair and mentor. The mid 1990s saw the DSA local get involved with the New Party (which morphed into Progressive MN before fading away after the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone), Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and a group trying to start an independent labor party. When OWS came to the Twin Cities, DSA members joined in there too. There were short periods of inactivity, but never enough to allow the chapter to fall away.

The Bernie Sanders run for the Democratic nomination changed all that. Sanders used the term “democratic socialist” to describe his place on the left-right spectrum, although he has never been a member. Suddenly, across the U.S., DSA membership and interest in the group escalated. Since early 2016, the membership rolls for the state of Minnesota have increased about fourfold. The chapter decided to do something it had never done before—hold a convention, adopt a constitution and by-laws, and elect officers. There is so much interest in the state that a separate chapter has formed in the Twin Ports/Duluth area, leaving the Twin Cities chapter to concentrate on the actual Twin Cities, while staying in touch with other outstate members. That was Twin Cities DSA 2.0. Now, with the election of Trump and yet another membership surge, it’s time for Twin Cities DSA 3.0.

Having a rational and democratic structure has given us the groundwork to analyze and respond to our present situation. Our members are eager to do something meaningful to resist Trumpism’s many ills, from xenophobia, racism, and misogyny to corruption, privatization, brutal union-busting, partisan dirty tricks, and deliberately increasing the toxic wealth inequality that is destroying our country. We have to focus, as do all the resistance groups. But we are a socialist advocacy group, neither single-issue, nor a political party. We have decided, in this first year under Trump, that one of our priorities is going to be local politics. Although if subgroups within the local in other geographic areas arise with the resources to concentrate on other cities, for 2017 we are getting involved in politics in Minneapolis, because the issues that Minneapolis will be grappling with in the electoral season happen to align with the issues our members here are most interested in, and which coincidentally are also issues the national DSA is interested in. These include such issues as sanctuary cities and protecting the human rights of immigrants, opposing big banks and predatory capitalism, improving wages and working conditions, and protecting and expanding ballot access. DSA is a nonpartisan nonprofit education and advocacy organization. As such, with some legal maneuvering we can endorse candidates, and we can do unlimited lobbying and advocacy, unlike charitable nonprofits. But we cannot have ties to any particular party. Nevertheless, in Minneapolis, one cannot affect policy without engaging with the DFL.
So to kick off Twin Cities DSA 3.0, we will be introducing, through our Minneapolis resident members, three resolutions in the DFL precinct caucuses to be held in Minneapolis on April 4, 2017. One resolution will ask the DFL to support the Minneapolis City Council in exploring the option of creating a municipal bank, as a profound way to break its relationship with Wells Fargo, an institution that conflicts with its values on many levels. Another resolution will be directed toward asking the city to consider an expanded definition of its “sanctuary city” status. This is something a number of other progressive cities have recently been moved to do, due to the increasing severity of immigration laws and their enforcement to be expected from the new administration. Still another resolution will ask the DFL to direct the city to put opposing the pre-emption legislation currently in the Minnesota Legislature very high on its legislative lobbying agenda. Pre-emption is a catch-all term for state efforts to prevent cities from passing their own wage, hour and working condition laws that are more labor-friendly than those of the state. Republicans and neoliberal Democrats alike are using this tool to clamp down on the more liberal city administrations and try to stem the tide toward higher minimum-wage laws, fairer scheduling laws, and rights to sick and safe time, all of which are “on the table” in Minneapolis.[3]

About

The chapter is involved in election campaigns of progressive candidates from Minnesota and organizes DSA events to help progressive movements and policies in our state. The chapter is in contact with members of the Canadian NDP, the Mexican PRD and maintains contacts and relationships with Socialist International parties in Western Europe. They support the Minnesota steelworkers' "blue-green alliance" and local anti-war campaigns. The chapter periodically publishes the "Fist & Rose" newsletter. As at Nov. 22, 2010, the Twin Cities DSA local had been meeting monthly for twenty years. Up until recently, the chapter met at the home of the late Corbin Kidder, a founder of the local.[4]

1990 activity

In 1990 Twin Cities DSA reactivated, intiating what coordinator Dan Frankot predicted will be a "sharp emphasis on direct involvement by DSA in local issues." Having adopted housing; health care and electoral work as the Local's priorities, members were getting involved in Paul Wellstone's campaign for U.S.Senate and "have heard from area homeless advocates and the director of Minnesota's Health Care Campaign, Tim Sullivan, about joining their efforts". [5]

1991 activity

The Twin Cities local held a series of discussion groups at the Meridel LeSueur Center for Peace and Justice on the history and policies of democratic socialism.[6]

1992 activity

In 1992, Stephan Peter, a DSAer who is also a member of the German Social Democratic Party, spoke at a meeting of the St Paul-Minneapolis DSA in November on the political situation in Europe.

DSAers Gene Martinez and Anita Martinez hosted a fundraiser for the Wellstone Alliance. Senator Paul Wellstone spoke to the DSAers and Democratic Farmer Laborites in attendance.[7]

May Day 2000

Twin Cities DSA co-sponsored “May Day 2000: College Students, Labor Movements, Political Action,” a conference at Anoka Ramsey Community College. DSA National Director Horace Small was the highlight of this event, and DSA had a literature table. Other speakers included Billie Davenport, President, Teamsters Local Union 2000, and Mary Rosenthal, State Director for the National AFL-CIO. Our local is meeting .[8]

Supporting Wellstone, Dayton and Gore

In 2000 Minnesota Democratic Socialists of America decided to focus all of its efforts as a group the next two years on reelecting Senator Paul Wellstone, who "is closest to DSA’s ideology. Although divided on Gore vs. Nader, they are 100% united behind Wellstone. Wellstone is being targeted by the Republicans and Bush administration for defeat."

The Twin Cities Local also started a Social Democratic Action caucus in the Democratic Farmer/Labor Party. SDA canvassed regularly for Mark Dayton and Al Gore.[9]

2002 activities

2002
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For Twin Cities DSA the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was a personal as well as a political loss, as most many local members knew Wellstone individually. DSA’s Social Democratic Action caucus in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is working to keep Paul’s legacy alive and to move the DFL in a solidly progressive direction. According to Stephan Peter , ome of the local’s members have worked to form a permanent International Commission within DSA and recently hosted a meeting with Swedish Social Democrats and Left Socialists..[10]

According to Dan Frankot, the Social Democratic Action Caucus of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, founded by DSA, "is organizing around various issues and will work to reelect Paul Wellstone for a third term to the Senate."[11]

In 2002, Bill Blaikie was the House Leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party and his party’s trade expert. Blaikie, who represents Winnipeg-Transcona, and Chicago’s Raul Ross Bineva, a member of the Mexican Party of the Democratic Revolution ), accepted an invitation by Twin Cities DSA to explore collaboration between the three “Socialist International” member organizations in the upper Midwest. [12]

"Building a Multilateral Future"

On October 9, 2004, DSA co-hosted the first of a series of international dialogues that "unite American progressives with their counterparts from around the world. The topic, the future of multilateralism,could not have been more relevant".

The participants were Robert Goebbels, member of the Luxembourg Socialist Labor Party (LSAP) in the European Parliament, vice president of the Party of European Socialists grouping in the European Parliament, and previously Foreign Minister of Luxembourg; Jo Leinen, member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the European Parliament, chair of its constitution committee and member of the committee for foreign affairs, human rights, common security and defense policy; and, representing American progressives, Donald Fraser, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and its committee on international relations, and former mayor of Minneapolis.

Alexa McDonough, the Canadian New Democratic Party’s peace and international development advocate in the Ottawa Parliament and former leader of the NDP, intended to participate in the panel, but was called away to tend to a crisis in her riding

The dialogue was the centerpiece for the Midwest Regional DSA retreat, and also had wide support from other organizations. It was initiated by the DSA International Commission and the DSA FUND and cosponsored by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) Education Foundation; the Freeman Centerat the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute,which donated the meeting space; and the Washington office of the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which provided the travel costs for the speakers. Professor Don Ostrom, president of the DFL Education Foundation, welcomed the panel and the audience on behalf of Minnesota’s progressive community, while Stephan Peter, a member of Twin Cities DSA’s Executive Committee and a co-chair of DSA’s International Commission acted as moderator.[13]

Martin Sabo, US Congressman from Minnesota was also invited, but may not have appeared.[14]

Socialist partnership

In 2005 Stephan Peter was invited to give a talk on U.S. politics at his German SPD local in Dillingen, with which the Twin Cities local had established a sister partnership.[15]

Canadian connection

In 2008 Twin Cities DSA and the DSA International Commission played host to a prominent northern member, Canadian politician/activist and New Democratic Party member Marianne Cerilli, in the days leading up to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Cerilli was caucus chair and opposition critic for Environment, Housing, and Immigration and held a ministerial portfolio in Family Services and Housing in the Manitoba Legislature. She also ran second in the 2006 election for mayor of Winnipeg. 120 students and community members at a local community college attended, and there was an informal international talking circle of over 20 DSAers and friends in downtown Minneapolis.[16]

Reaching out

In 2009 Twin cities DSA collaborated with the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Progressive Caucus and the local Socialist Party USA , and sent a member to Germany to develop a sister partnership with a German SPD local.[17]

Occupy Minnesota

Several members, including Lance Goldsberry of the local Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America took part in the Occupy Minnesota (Wall Street) event, Sunday October 9th, 2011.[18]

Americans of all types were at this event- anarchists, socialists, tea-partiers, Ron Paulites, libertarians, and ordinary people, all protesting Corporate power and its alliance with government. It is not shrill to suggest that unchecked corporate power is leading to a nascent fascism. Average Americans are being asked to sacrifice, while the rich and corporations are not being asked to sacrifrice. Corporate profits are privatized, while corporate losses are socialized.

Minutes of the Re-energizing Meeting, 19 February 2012

Membership Meeting, Democratic Socialists of America, Twin Cities Local, 19 February 2012

Location: 2210 E. 40th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In attendance: Members: Kate Baird, Alan Makinen, David Pera, Deb Ramage (convener). Members joining the meeting in-progress: Dan Frankot, Neal Gosman. Guests: Doug Mann.

After attendees introduced themselves, the meeting was called to order by Deb Ramage at 5:30 PM.

I. Agenda: A seven-point agenda provided by Deb Ramage is approved ; the use of Rusty’s Rules of Order is approved for meeting process. Ramage notes that the last TCDSA meeting was held 23 October 2011 at Davanni’s restaurant, Minneapolis. No minutes are known to have been taken of the meeting.

II. Meeting Officers: Deb Ramage volunteers to facilitate the meeting. Alan Makinen volunteers to take meeting minutes. Kate Baird volunteers to account for donations collected.

III. Structure Committee: Deb Ramage asks for volunteers to serve on a structure committee tasked with composing a proposal for new TCDSA bylaws that will be reported back to the membership [and national DSA] for review. Kait Baird, Alan Makinen, and David Pera volunteer to serve on the committee.

IV. Doug Mann, candidate for Minneapolis School Board. Mann speaks about his candidacy: This is his third run for a seat on the Minneapolis School Board. His support increased on his second try and he thinks he can build on that success in his current campaign. He has found support in the Minnesota Green Party in the past, especially among the Nader wing of the party, but he has not been able to garner the supermajority required to attain a GP endorsement, he says. He has had good support from students, having received the highest vote among all candidates in 2008 in the University of Minnesota campus district. He considers his chances poor of an endorsement by the DFL. However, an early TCDSA endorsement could improve his chances of success in the primary election. He brings a concern for social justice; the system is failing low-income students. And he seeks to end racism in public education. He would be an advocate on the school board for compliance with desegregation law, which the board has evaded. He discusses his opposition to the G. W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which pushes a corporate agenda on public education; for example, charter schools. This agenda has also been embraced by the Democratic Party. | A brief discussion follows about the function and responsibilities of the school board and Mann’s relationship with the teachers’ union. He has received support from individual teachers, he says, but not from their union, noting the close relationship between the union and the DFL. | Mann asks for TCDSA’s endorsement of his candidacy. Ramage says that it is now appropriate to move for an endorsement. Makinen questions whether a quorum of the membership is present and if an endorsement should be voted without the local having decided an endorsement process. There is time between now and the August primary to create an endorsement process, he notes. An alternate tack might be for a leader of TCDSA to make a personal, but organizationally identified, endorsement of Mann. Pera comments on the over-reliance on testing in the US education system. Both Republicans and Democrats are trying to undermine the power of education and postal unions, he says. Ramage points out that now is a good time for TCDSA to make an endorsement because the issues Mann is running on are being talked about. There is no parliamentary reason nor concern about election law that should prevent us from making an endorsement of Mann at this time, she says. Pera wonders if an endorsement by a self-described socialist organization might be used as red-baiting against Mann. Mann assured that he has long been public about his socialist politics. Baird moves that TCDSA endorse Doug Mann’s candidacy for Minneapolis School Board. Dave Pera seconds. The motion passes on a count of hands with two abstentions (Gosman and Makinen).

V. Action Plan, 2012-2013:

A. Occupy Minnesota. Ramage and Baird discuss their participation in Occupy actions and deliberations. Ramage reports that Occupy Minnesota coheres despite ideological tensions between various constituent organizations and tendencies (which have been written about more broadly in The Nation magazine). There has been dispute about the use of consensus or majority rule in decision making processes. Currently a 90 percent majority is required to approve a decision at general assemblies. Anarchist activists seem more concerned about being co-opted by the DFL than by the many Stalinists who are also involved in the movement. Ramage is positive about the Occupy homes (anti-foreclosure) activism. TCDSA members could help here on various tasks like building fences, doing neighborhood canvassing, providing food, supplying child care. Baird asks for thoughts on how to get TCDSA members to show up for Occupy Home actions. Frankot thinks that members are willing to participate. Ramage suggests pointing members to weekly All Committee Meetings that are held at Walker Community Methodist Church, in Minneapolis. Dinner is served at 5 PM; meetings begin at 6 PM. Also, members should sign up for e-mail alerts at the occupyminneapolis.mn website. Baird and Ramage comment that FBI infiltration and surveillance of such meetings is commonly accepted as a given.

B. Student Loans. Baird advocates involvement in efforts to reform student lending, which would include terms for renegotiation or forgiveness. Such a proposal could be brought to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Currently, government repayment terms are flexible, but private lenders are inflexible and tougher. Ramage asks for more information about how the system works and how to petition for policy change.

C. Food Democracy. Baird reported that GMO food labeling laws are being passed by state legislatures. She proposes that TCDSA join with other groups involved in this issue in Minnesota. Makinen says that he can research what groups are active in the state on this; he is familiar with the issue from his work at a food co-op.

D. May Day Parade and Festival. Ramage describes the event, organized by Heart of the Beast Theatre, which has been held in Minneapolis for many years. She asks if there is interest in participating this year with a table and/or a parade contingent. There is interest in having some presence at the event. Frankot agrees to look into the cost of a table space, but says he does not want to work the table.

E. Other Ideas: Mann suggests that TCDSA participate in Juneteenth activities. Neal Gosman explains that he is interested in initiating an internet space, a collectively constructed wiki, which would be moderated and coordinated, that would encourage a discussion among, for example, Occupy activists, with the goal of better articulating the movement’s common sense ideas. He wonders if TCDSA is interested in taking on such a project. Ramage says that she would be willing to work on the project. A discussion follows on the need to collect e-mail addresses from members so that they can be better informed about projects they could join and communication done more affordably (than through the mail). Pera comments that he has never been asked for his e-mail address. Makinen suggests sending a follow-up membership mailing asking these questions and to include a dues payment reminder. Ramage will put together a mailing that will include minutes from this meeting.[19].

Supporting Ginger Jentzen

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In 2017 Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen stood for Ward 3 of the Minneapolis City Council.

She was endorsed by Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America.

Personnel

Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America Labor and Economic Justice Branch, contact Ian Ringgenberg.[20]

Leading members Kim W. Jones, Jon Martinson, Brad McGarr.[21]

Contact

Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America contact in July 2017 was Nicholas Rea.[22]

Facebook 2017

As of July 4, 2017;[23]

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Amins

Facebook page, as of March 12, 2017;

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Admins

Other Members

Facebook, 2009

The following were listed as administrators on the chapter's Facebook group:[24]

Members

The following were listed as members on the chapter's Facebook group:[24]

Former members:

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [http://southsidepride.com/resurgent-democratic-socialists-chapter-tests-the-waters-of-minneapolis-politics/Southside Pride, Resurgent Democratic Socialists chapter tests the waters of Minneapolis politics IN NEWS, NOKOMIS, PHILLIPS/POWDERHORN, RIVERSIDE / BY ASHLEY PEDERSON / ON MARCH 7, 2017 AT 1:25 PM /]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Twin Cities DSA website: home page (accessed on Nov. 22, 2010)
  5. DEMOCRATIC LEFT SEPTEMBER- OCTOBER 1990, page 20
  6. DEMOCRATIC LEFT 14 MARCH-APRIL 1991, page 15
  7. Dem. Left, Jan./Feb. 1993. page 9
  8. Dem. Left, Summer 2000
  9. Dem. Left Winter 2000
  10. Dem. Left Winter 2002
  11. http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Summer_2002.pdf Democratic Left • Summer 2002]
  12. http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Summer_2002.pdf Democratic Left • Summer 2002]
  13. Democratic Left • Winter 2004/2005
  14. Democratic Left • Summer 2004
  15. Democratic Left • Spring 2005
  16. Democratic Left Fall 2008
  17. Democratic Left, Winter 2009
  18. Cities DSA at the Occupy Minnesota (Wall Street) Event, Sunday October 9th, 2011, Twin Cities DSA blog, accessed Novembr 2, 2011
  19. DSA Twin Cities blog, Monday, February 27, 2012, Minutes of the Re-energizing Meeting
  20. [3]
  21. [4]
  22. [5]
  23. [6]
  24. 24.0 24.1 Facebook group: Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America (accessed on Nov. 22, 2010)