The People Share Election-Night Stories and DSA Thoughts

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Are you renewing your dues? Or thinking of joining? Join, renew, or switch to monthly dues here, sound off with #DSAdues on Twitter, or fill out this form to tell us your DSA stories.

Over the past few weeks Chicago DSA has been collecting stories from DSA members and non-members alike about their 2016 election-night experiences, why they joined DSA, or why they’re considering joining DSA. Here are a handful of the responses we’ve received.

Ashwin R.

How were you feeling on election night 2016? Any stories to share?

I was in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon working with a community of coffee growers, and used a satellite phone to find out the election result. I spent the day in shock, hacking weeds with a local farmer, thinking about all of the things that went wrong with liberalism. And I also thought about how the indigenous people I work with in the Amazon, who experienced historic marginalization at the hands of colonial monsters, had nevertheless organized, rallied, and won major victories like expansive land rights despite the protests of capitalists. Thinking about the resilience of communities around the world, and the organizing acumen of the people I’d been fortunate enough to meet, helped me to maintain some grit in the face of such traumatic political upheaval.

Why did you join DSA? Or if you’re not a member yet, why are you considering joining?

I joined DSA for community, for solidarity, and to house my radical politics in an institutional apparatus that might move beyond scattered protest and electoral myopia into sustained movement building. In my estimation, that’s just what we’re doing. I love how DSA is genuinely big-tent, committed to a seriously compelling vision of the future, self-reflective and self-critical, and intersectional. I love how it’s an organization that nurtures the good ideas of its membership. In DSA, if you have a good idea, you need only talk to your friends about it, and come up with a plan to implement it. That’s organizing! It’s not always easy. Sometimes, you have to fight hard for your ideas. But in DSA, I find that those negotiations are overwhelmingly carried out in good faith, and it feels great to be surrounded by a community of people who are willing to sacrifice their precious time to build the world we all want.

Ashley D.

How were you feeling on election night 2016? Any stories to share?

I worked as a student election judge in my precinct that day. I live in the Northwest side of Chicago, so it was expected that some people would vote for Trump. However, I was not expecting to see almost half of my neighbors vote for someone that posed a direct threat to my safety as a queer person, to my queer and POC friends and comrades, and the most vulnerable members of our society. For the first time, I felt scared of the people in my community. After I got home, my dad was watching the election results. He told me that he was very scared for the future of this country. The safety of so many citizens was being compromised. I was terrified to watch the night pass by, as Trump got more and more votes. Immediately following Trump’s election, I realized that I could not longer just post to social media about why healthcare is important, or why trans* people deserve rights, or how POC get profiled by the police. I had to take action and fight these injustices.

Why did you join DSA? Or if you’re not a member yet, why are you considering joining?

I want to join. I don’t know where to go to participate in activism against the system and I feel that joining the DSA would be a good first step. While I am an Anarchist, I don’t have many connections into Leftist groups yet, and I feel that the DSA is an accessible method toward my own political goals.

Ted G.

How were you feeling on election night 2016? Any stories to share?

It was a gut punch, to say the least. I remember talking to a friend on the phone and her just saying over and over again, “what the f***.” It felt like an attack on women, on minorities, on anyone who wasn’t a Trump supporter.

Why did you join DSA? Or if you’re not a member yet, why are you considering joining?

I needed an outlet. I knew that posting on Twitter or arguing on Facebook was not going to effect any real change. DSA’s presence online and support from people I trusted, I joined four days after the election.

Mark

Why did you join DSA? Or if you’re not a member yet, why are you considering joining?

I am not the typical “new DSA member.” I am in my late 40s! I have been a ‘fellow traveler’ my entire adult life but never thought true left organizing had any hope in the United States. I spent most of my life working for progressive causes from labor unions to academia but thought that was the best I could expect.

Friends teased that I was their ‘non-profit’ friend. I accepted it. At least I had a clear conscious. But I would grow angry as I saw so much injustice in my town, state and country. I tried hard to accept this was the best it could be in the US.

In the Spring of 2017 I started seeing news of DSA’s growth. How could that be possible? This is the same organization the had the old tired website and the occasional lonely person tabling in Boston. I devoured all the DSA convention news I could this summer. I spent much of August listening to podcasts with interviews of young people reporting back and saying what the DSA convention meant to them. Wow… so powerful… so inspiring.

I became a monthly dues payer when I joined because, living in a rural area without a chapter, I felt it was the best thing I could do to support the organization. I hear people joke about the ‘Dictatorship of the Teen’. I have laughed, cried, and raised a fist in an empty room in solidarity as I have read their tweets and listened to them on podcasts.

I am so grateful to the young leaders of DSA from coast to coast. They inspire me daily. They give me hope. And for the first time in my life I believe the a new world is possible.

Are you renewing your dues? Or thinking of joining? Join, renew, or switch to monthly dues here, sound off with #DSAdues on Twitter, or fill out this form to tell us your DSA stories.