Radio Socialist Olympia is the podcast of the Olympia Democratic Socialists of America, devoted to socialist perspectives on politics, society, and the economy here in the South Sound.
In our inaugural episode, we interview two OlyDSA-endorsed candidates for the Washington State House of Representatives, Marianna Everson running in Legislative District 19, and Mary Ellen Biggerstaff running in LD22. We discuss their campaigns and running for office as socialists; the COVID pandemic and the need for Medicare for All; and the protests following George Floyd's murder and the growing calls to defund police.
Since this episode was recorded, Mary Ellen Biggerstaff has received the endorsement of the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America.**Episode notes:** In the discussion, there is mention of socialist writings on racism and policing in the US. For those interested, we recommend: * [_Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life_](https://www.versobooks.com/books/1645-racecraft) by Barbara and Karen Fields * [_Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump_](https://www.versobooks.com/books/2716-mistaken-identity) by Asad Haider * [_The End of Policing_](https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing) by Alex Vitale
Bigger than Bernie
Bernie's campaign may be ending, but our fight continues. Now is the time for us to double down on the work that has drawn in so many people over the last five years and keep our momentum going towards a better world. Become part of that fight by joining DSA at dsausa.org/join.
In dedicating our efforts to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, DSA has always understood the full import of Bernie’s slogan, ‘Not me. Us.’ Our own spin on that was that if Bernie won the election, the fight would continue. And if Bernie lost, the fight would continue. We now have to deal with that latter possibility.
Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for president, marking the close of one of the most successful battles the Left has waged in this country in decades. But the end of this battle does not mark the end of our work, for in our struggle for freedom and equality, each fight builds on the last towards a truly humane society. The multi-racial working class movement the Sanders campaign catalyzed over the last five years has fundamentally changed the terrain of American politics, and the class consciousness and organization that has been built through it will provide a base for continuing. We have not won a decisive victory in this battle, but we are far from losing the war.
Bernie Sanders at a United Auto Workers in Hamtramck, MI in September 2019
Indeed, the accomplishments of the last five years need to be placed in context. It is always hard to take a defeat, but we should remember that much of the incredible momentum of the campaign that energized people came precisely from how weak we were before 2015. Despite the ecstatic expressions of dissent we saw in the anti-WTO protests, the opposition to the invasion of Iraq, and Occupy, the organized Left was tiny and marginal. Socialism, or even basic social democracy, was everywhere swept off the table.
In a few years, we have built the largest socialist organization this country has seen in generations and placed our ideas squarely at the center of the table. Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, empowering organized labor and providing social rights, these are the ideas of our time, carried forward by a millions-strong movement of working people. In a society that bashes us over the head with individualism and an I’ve-got-mine mentality, we have given people ways to think about their problems as collective problems, and their solutions as collective ones. Millions of people are ready to fight for someone they don’t know.
DSA for Bernie canvass in Olympia, February 2020
This campaign has rekindled our hope, in a better world and in our ability to create it. This hope has only been possible because of the effort and put into it by all of us. But to care is to risk disappointment. It is easy to stand aloof, guarded by cynicism and nihilism. It is hard to care, to invest yourself in the struggle, to place your trust in something bigger than yourself. Now, those of us who made that leap and enabled the successes of this campaign are feeling the bite of that risk. And while we should honor and acknowledge that, we should not dwell on it.
It is disappointing we did not win the presidency, but we should not be ashamed to have lost an election in the face of the corporate- and billionaire-funded Democratic Party establishment, the capitalist media, and decades of neoliberal anti-politics. It was not us who sold out our (supposed) principles to rally behind a shell like Joe Biden. It was not us who engaged in voter suppression by shuttering polling sites in places like LA. It was not us that held the electorate hostage by allowing voting to take place during a pandemic. We have waged a good fight, a fight for decency, equality and humanity, a fight we can be proud of that has laid the foundation for the next stage of our struggle. As we go forward, we should remember the words of Tony Benn: “There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”
Statements & Support related to COVID-19
- If you are a member of Olympia DSA and have been affected by the economic instability related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for financial support from the Olympia DSA COVID-19 Solidarity Fund
- COVID-19 Solidarity Statement from Maria Svart, DSA National Director
- COVID-19 Safety Statement from Izzy Baldo, RN/ Oly DSA-Medicare for All Working Group Chair
- See the CDC site for details
- If you are a DSA member or community member in Thurston County at higher risk (older adults, immunocompromised) or sick, and require assistance with errands (grocery shopping, etc.), you can get matched with a volunteer by filling out this form.
- If you are a DSA member or community member who is able to help, please fill out this form
DSA Campaigns/Endorsements related to COVID-19
- We are calling on Washington state political leaders to use emergency powers to ease the looming economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis by taking action to preserve medical benefits, halt evictions, prevent utility shut-offs, and provide emergency income assistance: https://covid-4.paperform.co/
Mutual Aid/Direct Service
Resources for Neighbor Mapping
More Olympia Resources
- COVID-19 Information - City of Olympia
- Thurston County Public Health
- COVID-19 information - Olympia School District
- Seattle Times Coronavirus Daily Update
A few things to keep in mind for the many political and community events going on:
As everyone knows the coronavirus known as COVID19 is spreading in Western Washington. While those who are infected are either staying home on quarantine or needing hospital treatment, there are things we can do to keep each other safe.
- Limit social contact. The CDC is suggesting people stay 6 feet away from each other, which is impossible at Primary parties or Debate watch parties. What you can do is keep from shaking hands or hugging, and make sure you have washed your hands well (that means 20 seconds with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before joining in at a potluck table.
- If you have the following symptoms, STAY HOME: fever of 101 or greater, shortness of breath, cough, and severe fatigue with mental confusion. If you are having a hard time breathing go straight to the ER. However, if you are not in urgent distress STAY HOME and call your doctor’s office to determine if your symptoms actually are COVID19. If you are uninsured and do not have a doctor call your closest urgent care or the Department of Health, and they will help you in deciding if you have the virus or another condition.
- Wash your hands frequently, always before eating, and after contact with others. Try to avoid touching your face. Cough into your elbow and if someone else starts to cough step back.
- If you find out you have been in close contact with someone who ends up getting diagnosed the safest thing is to stay home, as you can incubate the virus from 2-14 days before you become symptomatic.
- Transmission from someone without active symptoms does not appear to have occurred. Meaning, if someone was exposed yesterday, and feels fine today, they are highly unlikely to pass it on to you.
- Those at higher risk: older adults, people who have serious chronic medical conditions like: Heart disease, Diabetes, Lung disease, chronic illness or autoimmune diseases.
Lastly, you know your own health best. If you feel like you must start doing your candidate support and organizing from home there will be many ways to stay engaged. Please reach out to www.olydsa.org for any questions.
In Solidarity, Izzy Baldo, RN/ Oly DSA-Medicare for All working group Chair
Labor is entitled to all that it creates. Our bosses take vastly more than their share, and have for hundreds of years. Luckily, we’re seeing a newly revitalized labor movement starting to push back: newly-militant unions in the public sector, mass action in the private sector, and new shops organized on a regular basis. What does the presidency have to do with all this?
The President appoints the chair of the National Labor Relations Board, among other positions. The NLRB was established in the 1930s under the pressure of massive labor unrest. It sets the rules for the struggle between workers and their bosses, and resolves dispute regarding unions. This puts it in a position of tremendous leverage: it wields the authority to crush unions or to empower them. Under President Trump, we’ve already seen it do the former. Imagine this power on workers’ side for once.
Bernie Sanders proposes to double union membership in the United States. This is one of the most striking proposals in Sanders’ platform, and would represent a dramatic expansion of worker power. However, perhaps even more interesting is his proposal to eliminate the ban on secondary boycotts. This sounds esoteric at first, but it’s a simple concept: currently, the United States is one of relatively few nations to prohibit workers up or down the supply line from one business from striking in support of workers at that business. Although clever workers have long found ways of working around this prohibition, it still prevents the sort of mass action necessary to make radical, substantive demands. The Workplace Democracy Plan is a broad and complex policy platform, and could potentially open possibilities for the labor movement not seen since the 1930s.
Sanders also currently wields more union endorsements than any other candidate, including the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Nurses United (NNU), Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU), and United Electrical Workers (UE), co-endorsements from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and dozens of local and regional endorsements from teachers in Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, Las Vegas, and D.C., Lyft and Uber drivers in Boston, state and federal workers, musicians, electricians, roofers, railroad, grocery, airline, hotel, autoworkers, and more.
If you believe that workers deserve more than their bosses’ scraps, make sure you turn in your primary ballot marked for Bernie Sanders by March 10 (for those outside of Washington, find your primary or caucus date here). Remember to check the box for the Democratic Party, or your vote will not be counted! Ballots can be dropped off in election dropboxes until 8pm on March 10.
Beyond the Primary
Olympia DSA works to support local labor struggles. Many of our members are active in their union locals and in the local labor movement. We also host a monthly Workplace Organizing Collective, where anyone can drop in and work to build the skills to organize their workplace. Whether you want to organize a union or just push back against your boss’ latest act of small business tyranny, our collective can help you get started and give you a chance to help others do the same. Check it out on the second Tuesday of each month at POWER in downtown Olympia!
Parts of this article were adapted from a piece published by Tacoma DSA, Democratic Socialist Labor Commission, and International Longshore & Warehouse Union member Zack Pattin.