In the lead-up to the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) 2023 convention, many competing political platforms and resolutions will be discussed and voted on. One such resolution, “The Clean Break” — which is backed by Boise DSA and the Red Labor Caucus — is putting forward the call for DSA to “immediately pursue a clean, irrefutable, and permanent break from the capitalist Democratic Party…” A minimum of 300 signatures are required by April 14 for the resolution to make it to the DSA convention floor.
This resolution is important for engaging the DSA rank and file about the necessity of breaking from the Democratic Party now and building a class-independent party. As the resolution highlights, DSA electeds in Congress like Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have time and time again betrayed the platform and ideals of DSA members and, more broadly, working-class and oppressed. This resolution highlights the fact that socialists have no place in the Democratic Party, opening a key debate and discussion for the DSA after important rightward shifts toward becoming an electoral apparatus inside the Democratic Party. Like the comrades putting forward this resolution, we believe the Democratic Party, from Biden to Sanders, is the party of police, imperialism, and exploitation.
As Left Voice, we publish this statement as part of an ongoing discussion about an independent, working class and socialist way forward for the Left. As the world faces climate change, looming economic crisis, war, and increased geopolitical tensions, it is vital for the Left to discuss how to break the stranglehold of the Democratic Party and build a political alternative for our class: a working-class party that fights for socialism around the world. Such a party would put at the forefront the struggles of the working class and oppressed, organizing from below in our workplaces, schools, and in the streets. There are foundations for this type of party in the young workers fighting for unions, who have had political experiences in the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as in the DSA members who see that being in the Democratic Party has brought nothing but betrayals. This statement by Aaron Liu and the Boise DSA is a welcome statement in the direction of building a new, independent political alternative.
We invite other groups and individuals to also write on the way forward for an independent, working class party that fights for socialism.
The question of organizing a party has been a major point of discussion in the Democratic Socialists of America for the last half a decade. The general consensus of the left wing of the organization always seems to be that eventually, when the time is right, the DSA will break from the Democrats and work to build an independent socialist party. Since 2019, the DSA has resolved itself to “building a political organization independent of the Democratic Party and their capitalist donors” and stated that “our goal is to form an independent working-class party.” The question is always: When is the right time?
The Boise DSA and Red Labor Caucus of the DSA have an answer to that question: The time to break from the Democrats is right now. The present moment is always the right time. Currently the DSA serves to strengthen and legitimize the Democratic party by endorsing its candidates and having its members run on Democratic party lines. This begs the question that if a better world is possible for working people, why isn’t a better Party?
This is why the Boise DSA and the Red Labor Caucus are promoting the Clean Break Resolution. The resolution calls for the DSA to “immediately pursue a clean, irrefutable, and permanent break from the capitalist Democratic Party, and will no longer support the candidates of the Democratic Party.” The resolution also calls for the DSA to solidify a party program, to embed itself into organized labor and rally a pro-party wing of labor around itself, all while committing the National Political Committee of the DSA to hold DSA candidates accountable.
As Red Labor sees it, the resolution serves to raise a serious debate on the floor of the Convention about exactly what type of organization the DSA is. Some in the DSA have given repeated lip service to breaking from the Democratic Party, but have not given a clear explanation on how they understand elections. As the DSA has only viewed elections as worthwhile so long as they win a seat, thus valuing the actual seat won more than the campaign itself, Red Labor has a different attitude. Red Labor has placed emphasis on the idea that elections serve as a platform to bring a revolutionary program to public attention and to draw lines in the sand between working people and the Capitalists, visibly showing working people that the working class does not need the Capitalists or their parties. This has nothing to do with purity or dogmatism, but one pragmatic route to get people to see a glimpse of a situation free of Capitalist influence. Unfortunately, not showing that we can go beyond the capitalist’s parties has confused working people’s politics.
The DSA openly declares in its political platform that “The American political system was not made to serve the working class.” In this way, the DSA has, in words, understood the basic concept that the modern State is a Capitalist State, an instrument of power for the Capitalist class, yet the DSA policy regarding engagement with electoral politics has never shown an understanding of this. Red Labor sees it is time to work to build a party that does serve the working class, instead of letting the largest politically active “socialist” organization in the US serve the ruling class. Red Labor wants to see the DSA enter onto the road of regroupment using the massive platform the DSA currently has. To begin such work in earnest without being attached to the anti-worker, imperialist Democratic Party is long overdue.
The resolution needs 300 signatures from DSA members in good standing by April 14th to even be brought to the convention floor. Don’t let the largest socialist organization in the United States hold itself captive in the hands of the Democrats. The time to Break is now! Sign the resolution.