By Ron Cox, Chair of Miami DSA, on behalf of Steering Committee
The socialist movement in South Florida has built membership and organizational capacity with the growth of DSA organizations in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in 2017. The first local DSA chapter was formed as the South Florida DSA, which then divided into three separate DSA organizations in each of the three counties. The Miami DSA recently acquired chapter status in early January of 2018, further solidifying the accomplishments of the local socialist organization. The election of officers for the Miami DSA took place in August 2017, which was part of the early stages of developing a political structure that was equipped to advance socialist politics across a range of local activism. Regular monthly general meetings were complemented by the creation of working groups in the areas of Communication and Outreach, Health Care, Mutual Aid, Political Education, and Elections. The organization also began a monthly reading group to discuss socialist politics. Attendance at monthly meetings is typically in the 20-30 range, with overall Dade County membership at 80.
The Miami DSA has built good working relationships with progressive political organizations in South Florida, working in coalitions with South Florida organizations in actions to protect and expand access to healthcare, to defend immigrants from political attacks, to fight gentrification policies in Little Haiti, and to help coordinate relief efforts to poor and marginalized communities harmed by Hurricane Irma. Miami DSA members also worked with DSA members on the Florida International University campus to help create a YDSA organization, which is now applying for official recognition as an FIU student organization and as an official YDSA chapter. The YDSA has built an effective presence on the campus, becoming a regular coalition partner of student organizations fighting for immigrant rights, defending college students against the punitive terms of the Congressional corporate tax cut bill, and protesting the visit of Trump Administration officials to campus. DSA members spoke at pro-DACA rallies, as well as rallies protesting Trump Administration policies.
The politicization and engagement of Miami DSA members is a high priority of the next phase of local organizing. Toward that end, the Communications and Outreach Working Group will work closely with the Political Education Working Group to guide and encourage member involvement in creating content for the weekly newsletter The Red Tide, and the newly emerging Miami DSA website. The Red Tide provides a concise weekly summary of Miami DSA political activities, alongside historical snapshots of famous events and figures in left history—so engaging visually and in content that these profiles have been picked up by the national DSA organization. The Red Tide also provides members, supporters and followers with a calendar of upcoming events, providing dates and details for a wide scope of left political activities throughout South Florida. The forthcoming Miami DSA website will allow for a more engaged and detailed analysis of political issues. Members have already volunteered to produce content that introduces readers to the relationship between building socialist politics and the roles of the various working groups of the Miami DSA. These introductory pieces will be followed by analyses of the political activities and coalition building that the organization is carrying out in Health Care (the fight for Medicare for All), Mutual Aid (the plans being implemented for providing free brake lights for underserved communities), Electoral Politics (the drafting of a questionnaire to help us determine whom to endorse in local elections), and Political Education (overseeing the politicization of the membership by encouraging self-reflection and political analysis of ongoing activism).
The ability of the organization to advance socialist politics will hinge on deepening the political relationships between the elected four-member Steering Committee, the general membership, the working groups, and our political alliances across the county, as well as deepening engagement with regional DSA organizations in Broward and Palm Beach—which have continued to work with us in South Florida organizing efforts. To do this, the Steering Committee is encouraging politicization at all levels of the organization, with more members being asked to contribute to the day-to-day activities of the chapter. More could be done to ensure that existing members are able to contribute to the Miami DSA. In addition, there needs to be a better effort at recruiting potential new members, making sure there is an active Miami DSA presence at important political events, and working to find ways to better connect with poor and marginalized working-class communities. The emphasis of the national DSA leadership on “praxis” offers a potential guidepost for deepening engagement with these communities. Miami DSA needs to be at the forefront of building relationships and providing solidarity with these communities through mutual aid activities (the brake light campaign), as well as coalition activities where our membership stands in solidarity with oppressed groups. With these efforts, Miami DSA will be able to go beyond the confines of our existing routine to build socialist solidarity across the multiracial and multicultural landscape of South Florida.