Why I’m Running for NPC
Okay, but who are you?
I grew up in a solidly working class household, my mother a hairdresser, my father a copier technician, in the outskirts of Chicago, and the politics of their working class struggles, when my father became unemployed for a year, when we lost health insurance, when we struggled to put food on the table and keep our house, these events resonated with me, built an empathy within me, an honest concern, not just for myself, but the people who weren’t as lucky as my family to get by some months. I channeled a lot of that into the politics growing up Catholic, building that empathy into a framework for the necessary structural changes required to keep poverty from happening, the role of the state, the community, the family. My entire leftist existence stemmed from my base in Catholicism.
It’s why I felt out of place at my conservative Catholic university in the early 2000’s (that, and being queer). My view of empathy, of honesty, of enacting the good will of the Gospel involved a more radical approach than what I felt the people I was associating with were taking. I was going down another path. It’s why I ultimately became involved in the anti-war movement, and gravitated towards that. And then the capitalist machine happened to me. I became homeless for 9 months, I was living on couches, sleeping in sheds, in open fields… I was the working homeless. It sharpened that base of mine, it honed it into an insatiable need to radically change the material reality of all people, to break down the capitalist machine that did not have the morality to treat all humans with dignity. To do it, I felt, required sacrifice, empathy, community, and a willingness to seize power and share it. I took that, I organized with it, I fight for it.
That brings us to today, I suppose. I’ve been involved in a lot of organizing efforts both behind the scenes and on the streets over the past 15 years. I’ve worked through electoral politics, union organizing, and good ol’ fashion direct action, I’ve lived in the South, Midwest, and Northeast, in big cities, suburbs, and small towns, and understand that we all have unique situations wherever we are. I make my living building education software, I have three wonderful cats who I’d love to show you pictures of, and live with my partner of 10 years. I bake for every single Providence DSA general meeting.
What have you done
The majority of my political work goes in three places these days: advocation of housing & transportation issues, of building relationships with members, and tackling the electoral challenges in Rhode Island in a way that cyclically builds support around local electoral candidates and translates that into direct action on the local level. I’ve worked for multiple electoral campaigns, from local candidates to gubernatorial elections, I’ve provided organizational support to established unions looking to assert their rights and social justice groups fighting racism and poverty in the heart of big cities. I believe in the power of knocking on doors and building relationships in communities. I believe in listening to people as the ultimate organizational tool.
That’s good and all, but Dan, why are you running?
Because I want to listen to the needs of the fantastic organizers that DSA has and give them the tools they need to accomplish their goals. It’s that simple. I’m running not to tell you my method for building power, but giving you, the people in places I haven’t been, who know the landscape better than I do, the tools. You know what’s best, I just want to help you do your best.
In my mind, the problem with DSA isn’t that we lack vision, but we lack process. These are all things that are incredibly common in growing organizations, and I want to represent that viewpoint in this election. I have that experience that’s necessary, not only from the corporate standpoint (where I feel there’s a ton of overlap in growing organizations and teams), but in nonprofit and social justice organization.
When I talk about process, I’m talking about building better communication channels between chapters, on creating document libraries, forms, procedures, and not having to use ad hoc methods to get them. The one thing I’ve heard more than anything else during my time in DSA is: I didn’t know that existed.
I want to tirelessly scrub that phrase from DSA. I want the tools to be available regardless of where you live. I want the three people in Minot, North Dakota to have the same access to the wealth of knowledge that someone from Detroit would have. I want to help you onboard people, I want to help you become better organizers, to take some of the load off of your plate, so we can all share the load as socialist and live our internal politics, externally.
I want transparency, I want to build an organization you can trust, not to lead you, but to support you. One that shares our goals of external politics, internally.
So, what does that mean?
If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll continue to grow. I have no doubt with the talented people of this organization, given the tools that people need, we’ll do better things, we’ll challenge the status quo more.
My vision is to not layout steps for us, because honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen in six months, a year, or eighteen months from now. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from organizing both in the corporate and social sphere its: invest in people, invest in their development, let them grow into what they want to, ask more from them, push them, learn from them. And to do that, we need honest evaluation of what we’ve done the past 2 years, and a transparency and willingness to listen to all voices.
I don’t want to push politics, I don’t want to look to the National Political Committee to set political direction, but to coordinate, to communicate, to be a national representative of the chapters. I want you to set the agenda, I want you to work with the other locals, I want you to have the tools to build regional and national campaigns, not from the NPC and National, but from yourselves. I want build the foundation that allows us to adapt to anything over the next 2 years.
I want to build a greater democracy within DSA, and to do that, is going to be a big ask of every single individual in the organization. I believe we can radically practice our future politics today. I believe that the soul of this organization depends on our radical commitment to democracy, and what better praxis than to run our organization with the same democratic socialist ideals we wish to see in the world.
Read more about my politics here.