Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DSA continues to build on organization plans

By SJ Otto
Last Saturday members of the local Wichita Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) continued organizing for the next year. The group discussed upcoming elections and outreaching to other progressive organizations. They also decided to build two working groups.
One of the more interesting ideas to evolve included taking over the Sedgwick County Democratic Party. That may sound like an over ambitious plan, but the Democratic Party in this part of the state, has been in really bad shape for many years. This goes beyond it being a centrist party that avoids anything controversial. It is poorly organized, week at winning elections and lacks any real dynamic leadership. If done slowly and carefully, it just might work.
Once again the group discussed running our own candidates as well as supporting others who are running. Brandon Johnson met with DSA members early in the meeting. He is running for district 1 on the Wichita City Council. Johnson is the founder of Community Operations Recovery Empowerment. He is also a member of the District 1 District Advisory Board and a former member of the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Members were impressed with his campaign and some members said they will work on it.
James Thompson also came to the meeting. He plans to run for the seat now held by Ron Estes ("Slacker Ron"), 4rth district US House of Representatives.
"One thing that is going to hold you folks back is the name (socialism)," Thompson told the group.
"We know," said a group member. "But we are trying to change that".
Changing people's perception of the term socialism is one of the long term goals of the Wichita DSA. It is the groups hope that future Americans will not see socialism as such a dirty word.
Thompson explained that he is working on developing a position on Rural Kansas. He said he is still being advised on that topic. He said that he already knows that keeping hospitals open in the rural areas are a problem.
"When those (hospitals) go out, people lose jobs," Thompson said.
Thompson told the group that he is not anti-gun. That may help him with some conservatives, but not so much with mainstream liberals.
"I like my guns," he said. "I'm a vet."
He said he is very interested in turning some counties, in his district, from red to blue.
During the planning part of the meeting, the group came up with a plan to help get progressive people elected:
The basics of a socialist campaign.

1. who is the target?
2. why can DSA win this?
3. Steps in the plan.
4. How does it build socialist power?

The group discussed recruiting students from the colleges and maybe high schools. They also talked about getting kits together for students want to organize for their future.
They will include chapter building kits, magazines and other important items.
Another important topic discussed is outreach. They discussed how to approach organizations that we may be able to interact with. They discussed the need to develop different approaches to different types of groups. There are different types of events that groups put on, including solidarity action events, social events and educational events.
At some events DSA will have a table and distribute information. At some events, such as parades, we may want to bring our banner and other promotional items. At some events we will just support what they are doing and avoid promoting ourselves.
The group also discussed social activities that are both political and allow members to socialize. One idea is to show socialist oriented films. Some suggested films include "13th," "Pride".

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