A DSA Case for endorsing Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams

Since I’ve joined DSA, many of our comrades have done great work canvassing for bills that would substantively help improve the lived material conditions of people in New York state. This includes the NY Health Act, which would be a social revolution if passed, of which the Socialist Feminist WG has worked tirelessly to promote and our chapter later adopted as a priority campaign. The NY Health Act got more cosponsors in the Senate then ever before in recent years but it didn’t matter. Even if a numerical majority of NY state senators sponsored it, the bill would NEVER leave the health care committee without the signal from Speaker Flanagan (empowered by the former IDC), who would certainly never let this happen. And Cuomo, for all his progressive posturing and sending of emails about fighting Trump and defending Obamacare, would never spend an ounce of political capital to protect and provide universal single payer for New Yorkers.

There are many ways to make political changes happen but one of the ways to do so is to change the personnel who make the decisions that affect our lives. Endorsing Nixon and Williams is a necessary complementary strategy as we continue to fight for our priority strategies of health care and tenant rights. In an ideal world, we would have one of our own members running against Cuomo. In an ideal world, a third party candidate would have a chance. But we live in the current conditions and currently we have the unique opportunity of a candidate who wants our endorsement, calls herself a democratic socialist, and has what is frankly an almost perfect minimalist socialist policy platform who has a chance to defeat Cuomo in the primary election. We also have a black Lt. Governor candidate who openly criticizes capitalism and has tirelessly fought at the forefront of the most radical social movements in our city. We are also at a unique moment post-AOC in which our political influence and perceived importance vis-a-vis primaries in Democratic races is extremely high. The Politico story about Cynthia and DSA was the 7th most read story on their entire site until the afternoon of the following day. When I was at NY1/Spectrum News on July 11th, a number of prominent reporters were extremely excited to hear that I was a DSA member in addition to my other work. Cynthia and the DSA was on everyone’s mind. We are hot and our ability to get in, even if only nominally, on this historic governors and lt. governor race cannot be overstated.

If anyone told me that major primary challengers to Cuomo and Hochul would run on a platform of universal rent protections, radical funding of K-16 education, criminal justice reform, etc. I would not have believed it. But Trump’s election has taught us that old ideas about elections have changed and that really anything is possible. I believe that DSA joining in the larger coalition of progressives supporting Nixon and Williams is a key step to bringing about our minimalist socialist policy platform.

There are many people in our organization that do not like electoral politics. They also question the validity of supporting Democrats and non-members. I respect these differences in opinion within our organization. However, I would like electoral-skeptics to consider how our different strategies are inherently linked. When we gain prominence and earned media for our electoral work, even for something as small as a low-intensity endorsement, this raises the visibility and importance of direct action and other forms of non-electoral base building actions. It elevates our position within the eyes of non-socialist potential allies and progressives who are DSA curious. Finally this endorsement will further cement just how important of a political player DSA has become since its exponential expansion since Trump’s election.

Photo via PSC-CUNY

This is a picture of my arrest in late March of 2016. I was 7 months pregnant in what I would later learn was a high risk pregnancy, and I participated in an direct action with my union, PSC-CUNY, in front of Cuomo’s midtown office because the stakes were high. Cuomo had submitted an executive state budget that would take half a billion dollars out of CUNY’s budget, in a craven attempt to push funding responsibilities onto the city, knowing that a likely outcome could include across the board 20% austerity cuts and possible campus closures. Attacks on CUNY are a direct attack on the working class communities of color served by CUNY, so like Cynthia Nixon, I understand the high stakes when it comes to stopping Cuomo and the neoliberal business as usual that occurs in Albany.

Photo via NY Daily News

I would also like to emphasize how important Nixon’s public education advocacy is from a class perspective. Very few white middle class parents in NYC send their children to neighborhood public schools as Cynthia Nixon has. Most of my middle class parent friends raising their families here in NYC, including native New Yorkers and professional class POC, prefer to send their kids to gifted and talented programs, charter schools or lottery based public progressive magnet schools. (My son who starts kindergarten in at our zoned public elementary school in Queens next fall will see his friends from preschool scatter all over the city). Nixon’s deliberate choice to send her three kids to public neighborhood schools and her tireless fight for the public education funding for all children in our city is a fundamental display of class and racial solidarity that we must take seriously.

I really urge my fellow comrades, especially those on the fence, to vote yes on Cynthia and Jumaane. Those of us who do electoral work do not plan to siphon off resources from Julia Salazar’s state senate race. It would be a serious tactical mistake for DSA to fail to endorse this pivotal race.