DSA Canvasses for Bernie All Over Metro Detroit
by Caleb Lalinsky
Detroit DSA for Bernie is organizing hard to elect the only viable democratic socialist candidate for president. Leading up to Michigan’s March 10 primary, DSA for Bernie is engaging people on the issues, asking them to pledge their support, and building the DSA base across our communities.
In February alone we knocked over 1,400 doors in Woodbridge, Southwest Detroit, Hamtramck, Royal Oak and Dearborn, with literature promoting the shared positions of Bernie and DSA in Spanish, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla and English.
“I’ve learned that if we take the initiative to do the work and reach out to our local communities, we can grow this organization and movement together,” said Anthony Dellicolli. “Participating in and organizing multiple events over the last month, such as canvasses out of my house in Royal Oak, has enabled me to meet many new comrades. I’m motivated by them every day to ensure that this is sustainable over the long term.”
Electoralism is often the sole mode of civic engagement many people have, limited as that may be. When we canvass as DSA we practice defining and building our movement by talking about the candidates and issues that matter most to us. We come away from this work as stronger comrades, better equipped to discuss our beliefs, share this work and build solidarity with those we seek.
“We talked to someone getting a masters in Foreign Affairs who wanted to discuss Palestine,” Gary Walker said after the Dearborn canvass. “I think most people expect to have to do most of the talking when they canvass, but it’s as much about listening as anything else. Every door is an opportunity to learn from someone with at least a slightly different perspective, and the beauty of the Bernie campaign is that it’s an easy sell to most people; because, he really has something to offer everyone regardless of their situation.”
Canvassing can also help DSA members build coalitions with the local labor movement. When DSA member Amanda Matyas knocked doors, she met a neighbor who had participated in local socialist events in past decades, but was not aware of Detroit DSA and its current activities. “It felt like catching a big fish — here was someone who wasn’t expecting to hear from a socialist, but was totally receptive and excited by our message.”
Additional events, such as a debate watch party at Donovan’s Bar in Southwest, the Valentines Day meet-up at High Dive in Hamtramck, and the happy hour at Pizzaplex in Southwest, have helped rally these efforts. Community members curious about Detroit DSA were encouraged to not only attend but host something themselves.
“The Woodbridge Pub meet-up was a cool way to continue getting to know the
organization,” said new DSA member Lizzie DePentu of her commitment to organizing one of these events. “People came after a full day of canvassing or protesting, so it was great to come together and talk through our experiences.”
To help energize these efforts, DSA for Bernie has been hosting weekly phonebanks to our huge member list out of Red Door Digital and Grandy’s Coney Island, anchored by member Peter Landon. “Each time we organized a phonebank or canvass, newer comrades or DSA-curious friends showed up to help,” Peter said. “We gave folks projects to work on and they were ready to accept the challenge.”
The phonebanks were a regular method to engage and ignite DSA for Bernie’s
strongest base. To this end, Peter continued, “going forward, we need to organize other actions or projects with this in mind. So many comrades stepped up to help make our phonebanks and canvasses a success. It was really great for forging our comradeship and laying the basis for other efforts.”