Libertarian Socialist Caucus Candidate Endorsements for the 2021-2023 DSA National Convention

- DSA Convention 2021

LSC is endorsing the following candidates for the 2021 election for the National Political Committee. The use of Single Transferable Vote will allow delegates to select the candidates that they truly prefer rather than focusing purely on strategies or internal politics. In the context of National DSA, selecting a supportive NPC can substantially influence the organization’s political trajectory.

These candidates come from different backgrounds, organizing traditions, and even tendencies. Three of the four are POC and all have had experience working a range of jobs and dealing with the conflicts and troubles of life under late capitalism. They have received the endorsement of the caucus because of their commitment to supporting participatory and member-led democracy in DSA and commitment to projects such as mutual aid, abolition, and antifascism. They are committed to building an organization that is led by its members and develops them as leaders rather than simply responding to the demands of mobilization campaigns and coalition politics. For instance, they have supported and support harassment and grievance reform that is essential for creating a functional national culture as well as other forms of organizational oversight and accountability. They champion, to different degrees, reforms that would create more democratic systems and intermediary structures.

They have solid histories--just as important--as organizers who have prized intersectionality, acted collaboratively with other tendencies and helped resolve interpersonal disputes. At a moment of intense internal conflict that has taken a personal and unprincipled turn, organizers like these offer the best opportunity for sustaining an organization that supports working-class and POC members: those from marginalized backgrounds who are central to our program. They have acted, finally, in the spirit of radical love and synthesized conflicting ideas in the process of developing a larger and broader organization that reflects the multi-tendency nature and true diversity of an organization that should be rooted in the multi-racial working class.

Aaron Warner: Aaron has been a Los Angeles DSA organizer par excellence for the last four years. He’s worked in various administrative and support roles both in his work life, and in organizing. He’s known the experiences of under-employment and over-exploitation from past jobs in the tourism service, emergency medical, and NGO administrative industries.

He’s been a Child Watch bottom-liner, designed agitprop, served as a street medic and direct action marshal, and been the acting liaison between various committees, projects, and chapters. He’s serving as a national convention delegate for the third time. He is an active member of DSA-LA and a delegate on the Intersectional Socialists for Black Liberation slate who is involved heavily in mutual aid and direct action in both lead and support roles. He brings to the table some fresh ideas including building intermediary organizations and developing an inclusive and supportive organization that will not tolerate abuse and will expand participatory democracy. He doesn’t just support principles of dual power--he has experience building them and running organizations that make them happen.

“No organization can build worker power unless workers are empowered within its ranks. We have to break down barriers, squash abuses, and uplift every single one of us to be an empowered political agent. ‘All Power to All the People’ is not just a slogan, it’s a concrete demand, and it is not negotiable.”

He believes in a DSA that’s radical, diverse, experimental, and always growing in its capacity to develop our members into powerful political agents, and its capacity to take powerful, militant action to fight the forces of capital. In the face of the crises the working class will confront in the coming years, he argues that we will need require immediate preparation to build the kinds of durable proletarian institutions we will need to fight post-Covid economic shock therapy, and to weather the United States’ imperial decline and comorbid climate catastrophes. Check out his website.

Desiree Joy Frias: Desiree is a first-generation afro-latinx queer mom living in NYC. She’s been organizing since 2010. She was arrested during her work at Occupy Wall Street and coordinated mutual aid efforts after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. She’s been a dues-paying member of DSA since 2017 and joined the OC of the Bronx Upper Manhattan branch shortly afterward. Her last paid job was as Campaign Director for People’s Bailout which helped shape and pass the American Rescue Plan through a federal pressure campaign.

In her work in the Bronx -Upper Manhattan Branch of NYC-DSA and beyond, she has facilitated mutual aid projects, served as a Harassment and Grievance Officer, and worked in collaboration with others. She has a depth of administrative and policy experience from her work as a disability attorney and health policy professional that will be essential as we grow as an organization and stage more complex interventions.

She calls for DSA to center campaigns and projects beyond electoral work such as the Housing Justice Commission, Mutual Aid, and Veterans Working Groups. This is the case during a moment of mass eviction and intensifying crisis. She also calls for the focus to be on more local elections where power and the likelihood of success are greater. The organization needs to develop more inclusive models of organizing--especially for disabled people--and implement some more democratic structural changes, she argues. Her website is here.

Justin Robert Charles: Justin is a cis-gender, able-bodied African-American man from the NYC Metropolitan Area in the Emerge-NYC Caucus who works for a policy non-profit that has organized a union during his tenure. He’s managed to do amazing things in his political organizing while maintaining a vision of a communist horizon--and co-raising one of the cutest puppies in the tri-state area.

He has been an organizer in DSA over the past half-decade and has served in the leadership of the North Brooklyn Branch, on the Citywide Leadership Committee, been a member of Afrosoc, and was appointed to become a member of the National Political Committee in 2020. In his work on the NPC, he supported the formation of working groups like the Abolitionist WG, Mutual Aid WG, and Antifascist WG. In New York City and on the National level, he played a principal role in helping develop policy platforms that helped inform electoral and policy work and with his strong graphic game helped develop messaging for campaigns for Racial Justice. On the NPC, he’s been involved in the Budget and Finance, Communications, and Growth and Development Committees. He’s a member of the Convention Steering Committee, co-chairing the Platform and Resolutions Subcommittee, and chair of the Growth and Development Commission Steering Committee.

He’s committed to maintaining an organization that responds to its members and builds power not simply through campaigns and electoral work in coalition with non-profits but through organizing the class, building institutions, and developing and training members at all levels of the organization. “I’m most interested in helping DSA level up, particularly in its ability to communicate its vision outwardly and in its ability to recruit, retain, and empower a membership more representative of the entire working class.”

A profile in Partisan magazine is available here.

Jennifer Bolen: Jennifer Bolen is a POC member from San Francisco DSA where she served as a chapter leader and has been on the NPC for the term that started in 2019-21. She has been a paralegal for over a decade.

She has had an exemplary stint on the NPC where she supported the democratic formation of Abolitionist and Antifascist Working Groups and responded to the Covid-19 crisis by helping form the Mutual Aid WG. She was the first chair of my chapter’s Socialist Feminist Working Group, and I was on her Steering Committee as Treasurer. For the last two years, she has served on the National Political Committee’s Steering Committee, the National Communications Committee, 2021 National Convention Steering Committee and National Political Education Committee. She also served on the Personnel Committee from 2019-2020.

She believes in structural reforms that would develop internal democracy as well as changes to a problematic Harassment and Grievance system. By organizing workplaces and developing institutional relationships and mutual aid systems, we can become more successful as a movement. These campaigns can move us beyond the important but limited educational and reform focus of some electoral and legislative mobilization projects.

Jennifer does not have a candidate website but would like you to know she enjoys Taco Bell and her cat. You can catch her posting on Twitter (and sometimes her cat lurking there.)

Austin G: We are proud to endorse Austin G for NPC. He is an organizer from Richmond DSA who has advocated for small chapters and a robust socialist internationalism. In his time as a chapter leader in Virginia he built chapters across the state including in both urban and rural areas. He was the inaugural chapter cochair and led chapter members into the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville on A12 where we witnessed the crash happen. During his time on the NPC, he has taken pride in the work done on the International Committee as well as playing a role in forming both the Mutual Aid Working Group and the Antifascist Working Group.

His time on the NPC has shown a good track record of pushing DSA to the left and towards liberation. His focus on Anti-Imperialism is a necessary and important addition to what we do as an organization. His strong support of the Mutual Aid Working Group and Anti-Fascist Working Group has shown that he has a commitment to building strong on-the-ground organizing, building up community power. His experience in small-chapter leadership also brings a needed perspective to the highest body in our organization. We look forwards to another two years of his continued leadership!

His website and platform is here.

Statement on STV Elections: We’re asking for delegates to be mindful of the strategy around Single Transferable Vote (Hare/Scottish Method Ranked-Choice Voting) that will require us to rank our candidates high. First priority votes can carry significant weight and the threshold number of votes necessary to win even a large election (which is calculated based on the number of voters and open positions) may be fairly small such that ensuring all viable candidates receive at least some first-place votes can be critical. At the same time, it also may be helpful to have some subset of voters follow a strict list of candidates so that votes transfer effectively to other candidates on the list. As explained in this technical summary, surplus votes that are redistributed from candidates above the threshold and those eliminated are transferred on a fractional basis to other candidates below the threshold but not eliminated. This occurs in multiple rounds until candidates are elected for all seats. You need not rank all candidates for the election if you want to prioritize a limited group of caucus members and allies. The lowest-ranking candidates on a longer list of votes may be partially reflected or not reflected at all in the tallies.

For this election, consider ranking enough NPC candidates with whom you feel comfortable to win a majority or plurality that supports our organizing priorities around antifascism and antiracism, dual power, internal democracy, and abolition, have records as decent collaborators and administrators, and are visible candidates. The ES&C WG Subcommittee of LSC has evaluated some of these factors and made provisional rankings of candidates but only placed for endorsement the candidates who filled out our survey. If you would like to receive more information, please reach out to us on Slack, Twitter, or join us.