Democratic Socialists of America goes all in for Biden

By Genevieve Leigh
17 October 2020

Last week, nearly the entire leadership of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) began circulating a “pledge” to campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

The pledge states that, while “there is no choice at the top of the ticket that would advance our movement… A Trump loss would be unequivocally better for the working class and for our movement than a Trump re-election victory.” To secure Trump’s defeat and Biden’s victory, the signers commit “to volunteer our time to phonebanking, textbanking, doorknocking, and otherwise organizing to defeat Trump over the next four weeks.”

The signatories of the document include many members of the National Political Committee (NPC), including Hannah Allison, Maikiko James, Kevin Richardson, Abdullah Younus, and Megan Svoboda, as well as national leaders on the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission, National Electoral Committee, AFROSOC Executive Committee, DSA International Committee Steering Committee, and others.

Joe Biden (Flickr.com, Gage Skidmore)

The document is a direct appeal to the membership of the DSA, from its leadership, to actively campaign for Biden. In a sign of their cowardice and anxiety over the election, and general contempt for their own members, the authors deliberately do not mention the name “Biden” once. However, the practical implication is clear: the DSA leadership is mobilizing the organization to get out the vote for Biden.

The membership of the DSA voted at the 2019 convention explicitly to not campaign for any Democratic Party candidate other than Bernie Sanders.

The fact that the DSA leadership is nevertheless mobilizing to campaign for Biden is not surprising. However, the brazen and open disregard for the organization’s own convention resolutions with the issuing of this document is noteworthy.

In the 2020 Democratic Party primaries, the DSA campaigned heavily for Sanders, falsely presenting his candidacy as the path for transforming the Democratic Party and realizing socialism. After ending his campaign in March, Sanders quickly became the most prominent supporter of Biden, attempting to sell the longtime steward of the interests of Wall Street and American imperialism to his own supporters.

This has created a significant political crisis for the DSA, which has sought to posture as being independent of the “Democratic Party establishment” while in fact serving as a faction of the same party.

The main response of the organization to the unprecedented political crisis in the US is to say nothing. The DSA has written nothing of the right-wing militia plot to overthrow multiple state governments and to murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. No statements or articles have been published on their website or in their official news publication Democratic Left on President Trump’s declaration that he would not accept the results of the election. Nor is there anything on the complete capitulation of the Democratic Party to his efforts to ram through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court just weeks before the election.

In fact, the DSA has not published a single statement on its website since August 25th. No doubt, many of its members are wondering how it is that this supposed “socialist” organization has nothing to say amid the direst economic and social situation since the Great Depression and the most significant political crisis in American history.

For its part, Jacobin magazine, the unofficial news organ of the DSA (run by many of its leading members), has issued countless articles advising the Biden campaign and covering for the criminal and cowardly role of the Democratic Party.

Indeed, just last month the magazine published an article promoting the homicidal policy of “herd immunity.” Shortly after its publication, the main individual interviewed by Jacobin in the article, Harvard University professor Martin Kulldorff, met with the Trump administration officials responsible for formulating White House policy in relation to the pandemic. Kulldorff is one of the main figures behind the Great Barrington Declaration, which has been endorsed by the White House.

The more intense the social and political crisis in the United States, the more openly the DSA moves to the right. This political trajectory is preconditioned by the organization’s subordination to the Democratic Party, and, therefore, to Wall Street and the needs of US imperialism.

Thousands of workers and youth in and around the DSA joined it on the false conception that it is a socialist organization. However, neither Jacobin nor the DSA has anything to do with socialism. Rather, they speak for and are oriented to a section of the upper-middle class that is seeking positions and a “seat at the table” within the existing political framework.

To this end, they are currently preparing the way for the possibility of a future Biden administration. If Biden becomes president, the DSA and the editorial board at Jacobin magazine know full well that nothing fundamental will change about American politics or the ruling class response to the pandemic. Therefore, their role is to prepare the way for Biden to embrace the policy of herd immunity by attempting to give it a left veneer.

As for the DSA, its “representatives” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others in Congress are following suit, pitching themselves for possible cabinet seats and other positions of power. Ocasio-Cortez recently took to social media to peddle the lie that voting for Biden will “let our democracy live another day.” As for Sanders, he is now on a virtual and physical tour of the US touting the absurdity that Biden will become the “most progressive president” since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Democratic Party has done everything it can to cover-up and downplay the significance of Trump’s incitement of far-right violence. Their greatest fear is of the development of a mass movement of workers against Trump’s conspiracies that would develop into a broader movement against the policy of the ruling class that Trump is implementing and that the Democrats support.

If Biden comes to power, the policy that his administration implements will be dictated by Wall Street and the military. There will not be a “new New Deal” or social reform, but ruthless austerity. A Biden administration would hold out an olive branch to the Republicans, create the best conditions for the further development of the far-right, and intensify the assault on the working class to pay for the bailout of the rich.

The role of the DSA and Jacobin is to try to prevent a break with the Democratic Party and convince workers and youth that, however much they may hate it, there is no other choice. The fact of the matter is that there is another choice: the independent mobilization of the working class in opposition to both big business parties to fight for the socialist transformation of society.