Earlier this week, the DFL Party State Executive Committee considered and firmly rejected to the formation of a constituency caucus called Democratic Socialists. Now, yes, it is clear, there are hard-left leaning politicians and individuals that self-identify with this label, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who coined it, Rep Ilhan Omar (DSA-MN05), State Senator Omar Fateh (DSA-62, Minneapolis) newly elected Minneapolis City Council Members Jason Chavez (DSA-Ward 09, Mpls), Aisha Chughta (DSA-Ward 10, Mpls) and Robin Wonsley Worlobah (DSA-Ward 02, Mpls) St Paul City Council Member Nelsie Yang (DSA,-Ward 06. St Paul) and others have expressed their support, but incorporating another party into the DFL is far more involved. Tactically, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin encouraged supporters to prepare a a proposal and after two-years of effort their idea crashed on the rocks of reality.
We contend, any allowance of Democratic Socialists of American into the DFL Party s counter to the DFL Party’s survival. In 1944, the DFL Party was formed through a merger of the Democratic Party, and the Farmer Labor Party, with the Democratic side being the weaker of the two. After the merger, the DFL Party became competitive and later overcame the Republican Party. As it was related at the time, the DFL under the leadership of Hubert Humphrey II, Orville Freeman, and Elmer Kelm, purged the Communists and kept the Socialists and a politically progressive party was formed. The Socialists who the DFL retained were Union Trade Laborers and Farm Unionists which support cooperative agricultural controls.
Now, seventy-seven years later the terms and structures have changed as well as the processes and politics. Its clear there is a fervency of the left-side of the political calculus and a demand for rapid change. In light of the murders of Philando Castile, George Floyd, Daunte Wright and others followed by the failure of the Police Reform Amendment and the elections in in Minneapolis, not everything leads in the same direction.
Any form of self-labeling, may seem like an opportunity for identification, but it actually is creating ones own limitations and self-boxing. Socialism, is a political system, along with Communism, in which Republicans have used as a boogeyman dating back to the Cold War. In America, its virtues are only discussed in colleges and Universities by fringe political professors. It has a weightier place on the international stage because of China and Russia. Just as Critical Race Theory, it is a concept not a practice and it is a native’ political person who advocates for its inclusion anywhere in the United States Democratic Party. Maybe, this is why Chavez, the former head of the MYDFL, Chughta and Yang, the two youngest members of their respective city councils voiced their support.
The American system of Capitalism faces its own challenges regarding equity and fairness, but because it is a system designed based on aspiration and opportunity, it resonates well with a western mentality of Rugged Individualism. This may also be why calls for such often come from political people in safe districts rather than people who actually have to fight for their seats with Republicans.
Collective action is understood and incorporated at times such as Social Security, MediCare and MediCaid, but it is not the first position, people from other cultures like Ilhan Omar and Omar Fateh may see values in other economic systems but it is through the political openness of American Democracy these discussions can be had.
The opposition vote on the Democratic Socialist Caucus was 38-9. We have assembled letters of people who supported the move and believe truly, there should be discussion of either removing the DFL endorsement or preventing people who actively carry the label of DSA from seeking or receiving the DFL Party endorsement in the future. Politics has consequences, stick your neck in the wrong hole it can get chopped off.
The DFL Party must also consider self-preservation and the Democratic Socialists of America are starved for membership and will gladly welcome new members, especially those with election certificates.