Labor Zionists Petition Senate Against Ambassador Confirmation

The Principles of SDUSA express strong support for the existence of the State of Israel within secure borders, while opposing settlements and advocating an independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel. We share these beliefs with the Labor and Socialist Zionist movements which largely led and fought for the creation of Israel, and we are comrades of the modern forms of those movements, the Israel Labor Party and the Meretz Party.

David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer and Donald Trump’s designated American Ambassador to Israel (related facts), is about as far from our principles as it is possible to be. He has been an outspoken supporter of settlements on the West Bank, has denigrated the idea of a Palestinian state and even suggested that President Obama is an anti-Semite. His extreme views are to the Right of even Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public positions. He has made despicable statements likening progressive American Jews to Jewish collaborators with Nazis in the death camps and denied that members of J Street, the progressive Jewish lobby, are even Jews.

Resistance to his confirmation has begun, with Ameinu, the Labor Zionist organization, beginning a petition asking the Senate to block his nomination. The petition and related statements can be found on Ameinu’s website, www.ameinu.net. You don’t have to be Jewish to sign– just a person who believes in a just, fair, peaceful solution to a very complicated problem!

Posted in Foreign Affairs by Eldon Clingan. 2 Comments

Labor Sec Perez in for DNC Chair

Highly regarded Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced yesterday his candidacy for Chair of the
Democratic National Committee. Perez is thought to have been encouraged in his bid by the Obama-Clinton forces in the Democratic Party who are unhappy with Keith Ellison, the other major candidate for the DNC post. The stage is now set for a contest between the centrist and progressive wings of the DP.

Perez is considered a friend by much of the labor movement, including the AFL- CIO which has endorsed Keith Ellison. The major fault found with Perez by the unions is his advocacy of the TransPacific Pact as an emissary of the Obama administration, and some labor leaders are said to be annoyed that he delayed his announcement until after they had committed to Ellison. The process, they say, has been going on for months, and Perez should have indicated his interest earlier.

In the opinion of progressives, the election of Perez would pose several problems in the rebuilding of the DP from its catastrophic defeat in November. First, it would mean that the rebuilding process would be in the hands of those who have had undisputed control of the party machinery for the last eight years and who led the DP to disaster. Their inability and even unwillingness to confront the Republicans over working class issues is seen as helping cause significant defections from the Democrats in November. The likelihood that they would change course is considered remote, but without changing course, the party is likely to face the same electoral defeats that it did in 2010, 2014 and 2016, defeats that have left the three branches of the Federal government in conservative control.

A Perez leadership of the party might well infuriate the Sanders-Warren wing that is solidly behind Ellison. Certainly the activists who came into the party through the Sanders campaign are unlikely to continue as foot soldiers in a DP dominated by the same old same old Obama- Clinton supporters. More probable is a continuation of the battle for control of the party extending for years.

For social democrats, the key question is, who will be more likely to take the DP in the direction it needs to go to become a social democratic/progressive party, a party that will be responsive to the needs of the people? It’s probably fair to say that Perez is the status quo candidate and that Keith Ellison is the agent of change. It was in the belief for the necessity of change that SDUSA endorsed Keith Ellison this week.

Posted in Domestic Politics Labor by Eldon Clingan. 6 Comments

SDUSA Endorses Ellison Bid for DNC Chair

The National Committee of Social Democrats USA, at its meeting on Wednesday, December 14th, endorsed the candidacy of Keith Ellison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. The Committee’s resolution said:

” The National Committee of Social Democrats USA proudly joins major labor organizations including the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations, the United Steel Workers, the Communications Workers of America, the American Federation of Government Employees and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and progressive and labor leaders including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative John Lewis, Randi Weingarten (President of the American Federation of Teachers), RoseAnn DeMoro (Executive Director of National Nurses United), and Lee Saunders (President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) in endorsing the candidacy of Representative Keith Ellison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

” We believe that, after decades of neoliberal control, the Democratic Party must regain its historic position as the party of America’s working class. The people of our country require a truly progressive Democratic Party, one that strongly advocates jobs for all at living wages, the rebuilding of the labor movement, healthcare for all without regard to ability to pay, fair taxation and public investment in infrastructure, education and child care. The Party requires a leader of vision and courage, one who does more than tinker with the machinery of the Party to make it run more smoothly. Representative Ellison is that person.

” Keith Ellison has promised to respond to the recent catastrophic defeat by building the
Democratic Party from the ground up. He listens and learns. He will hear the deep concerns of the working class base of our Party. He will bring into the Party the enormous progressive energy unleashed by the Sanders campaign, and he will listen to the voices of ordinary Democrats throughout the nation. Keith Ellison understands the value of coalition building: an early supporter of Senator Sanders, he became a tireless campaigner for Secretary Clinton when she won the Democratic nomination. He will bring change and unity.

” Social Democrats USA is a principled supporter of the State of Israel. We are proud that most of its principal founders were members of the Labor Zionist and Socialist Zionist movements to which we feel a kinship. We strongly favor an Israel at peace with its neighbors, and we support an independent Palestinian state at peace with its neighbors. We
were concerned, therefore, about allegations that Representative Ellison is anti- Israel and even anti- Semitic. In assessing these allegations, we rely on the witness of those who have worked closely with him, such as Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten, a practicing Jew
and a progressive Zionist, who called the allegations “swiftboating.” President Weingarten went on to say,” I can feel and smell anti- Semitism. Keith Ellison is no anti- Semite, and it is maddening when anybody who doesn’t know him or his record makes that ugly accusation…Keith is an agent of change, a fierce fighter for working folk and someone who understands that one has to fight against bigotry and hate and fight for the economic and educational opportunities that America’s working families need.”

” We polled our members, and while we did not get a strong sampling, the responses were in favor of endorsing Ellison. We, therefore, ask our members and friends to join us in urging the Democratic National Committee to elect Representative Keith Ellison as its Chair.”

Posted in Domestic Politics Labor by Eldon Clingan. No Comments

Keith Ellison Picks Up Support from Dean Group, Perez in the Wings

Minnesota progressive Congressman Keith Ellison picked up support today for his campaign to become DNC Chair from Democracy for America, a group founded by Howard Dean. Dean, a former
DNC Chair, recently withdrew his candidacy for a new election to that position. In its announcement, DFA said that 87.4% of those voting in its poll favored Ellison. The organization prides itself on its successful support of Howard Dean’s bid for DNC Chair in 2005. In a further sign of Ellison’s support from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Senators Sanders and Warren and teachers’union president Randi Weingarten will join Ellison in a livestream event for Our Revolution on Wednesday, December 14th, at 8 P.M Eastern time.

However, Ellison’s path to the top may not be entirely smooth. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
is said to be moving closer to entering the race. If he does throw his hat in the ring, it would be be as the candidate of President Obama and the centrist wing of the Party, and the stage would be set for a battle between the centrist and progressive wings. Having been chewed up in the November election, Perez’ supporters are said to be uncertain if they want to take on Sanders and friends at this time. Obama is, after all, leaving the presidency, and Secretary Clinton seems to lack the will to enter another contest. The centrist Democrats are giving to have to live with the progressives, without either Obama or Clinton, so maybe a fight now would be foolhardy.

Posted in Domestic Politics by Eldon Clingan. 4 Comments

Social Democrats and the New Progressive Movement- 2

We now move from the theoretical to the practical: concrete ways to get SDUSA’s message to as large an audience as possible, particularly to activists who are working in the groups that are coming out of the Sanders campaign. I want to make clear that I don’t have a monopoly of experience or ideas in this area. Your thoughts about reaching people are very much wanted, and I encourage you to share them in the comments.

In the previous post I suggested that advocacy and education were likely to be the principal
ways in which SDUSA could relate to the new progressive movement that is growing from the
Bernie campaign. J. Michael Holmes added that organizational expertise was another way that SDUSA members could add value. In this post I want to suggest practical activities to carry out those functions, activities that by necessity could be done by a small group or even a single individual.

Broadly speaking, these tasks involve communication and participation, and the first means of communication is the one that you are now reading, Socialist Currents. It is a tool that we have to get “News and Comment” to members and sympathizers, and it is fairly cheap (writers don’t get paid!). Another cost-effective way to communicate is our active Facebook page. In the far past, our predecessor organization constantly lived hand to mouth because of the expense of producing and distributing a national newspaper; it could do little else, as a practical matter. Today Socialist Currents and Facebook give us a virtual national newspaper, and we can spend most of our funds on other ways to reach people.

One method to reach many people is a conference sponsored by SDUSA. Our Buffalo, NY people have just put on such a conference. A major advantage is that not all speakers have to come from SDUSA, and SDUSA gains prestige from being to carry out such a task. Another advantage is that organizers can shape the discussion by selecting the speakers and panelists. The drawback is probably that conferences are labor-intensive and beyond the resources of a single person.

Another way to reach a lot of people is conferences sponsored by other organizations. Frequently organizers want to raise some revenue, and they allow groups- for a fee-
to “table.” Tabling is something that can be done by a single person. It usually only requires a banner, pamphlets to distribute and a pad to take names. The conversations that tabling makes possible are valuable in recruiting new members and in just getting to know other progressives in the community. If the SDUSA member has a selection of high-quality
materials available for distribution, tabling becomes an important way to educate progressives.

Back in the day, pamphlets were produced at fairly extended intervals by the Socialist Party- Social Democratic Federation. A serious pamphlet had to be printed and so was
relatively expensive (there were some mimeographed materials but they were not held in the same respect as printed pamphlets). And let’s be blunt: however they were produced, the
content was sometimes not very good.

We are in a very different position today. There are several progressive think tanks, and they produce high-quality papers that are supportive of social democratic positions. Most
Of the time these papers are not copyrighted and can be reproduced by anyone with a laser printer. We just need to run off the needed quantity, hit the papers with an SDUSA rubber stamp, and behold, we have a stack of SDUSA pamphlets!

Organizational skills are a major contribution that SDUSA could make to the new movement. A number of us learned skills as young people in the labor and socialist movements, but as SDUSA grows, we will have to find ways to train a new generation in the art of organizing. We older people had the chance to learn in a larger movement than we have today, but now we have think in terms of training new members to work effectively by themselves or in small groups. One way to do this is to offer scholarships to training schools such as the Midwest
Academy; for approximately $2,000 to pay for tuition, lodging, board and travel, a person can attend a five-day organizing course.

Of course, none of this is free– economical but not free. I think that the national organization should help individual members and small groups communicate. Pamphlets, for
example, could be produced nationally and shipped as needed to local members. But to work effectively with the new movement and to arm its members with a thorough knowledge of Social
Democracy, we need to raise adequate amounts of money. A good beginning would be for everyone on this mailing list who agrees with SDUSA to join as a member. The form to apply is on this website, and memberships are available in various categories.

I hope that some of you will add your own ideas for communicating with the progressive community. But most of all, I hope that everyone will catch the excitement of this movement. We are literally looking at the possibility of a movement of social democrats with a membership in the hundreds of thousands!

Posted in Domestic Politics by Eldon Clingan. 3 Comments