I feel kind of bad for Dede Scozzafava. Not too long ago, it looked like this moderate Republican would sail to an easy victory against her Democratic challenger in today’s special election for the vacant congressional seat in New York’s 23rd district. Scozzafava is the kind of Republican that barely exists anymore – Northeastern, ethnic, and fairly liberal on both social and economic issues. She is a supporter of abortion rights, economic stimulus spending, and strengthening workers’ rights to union organization and collective bargaining. It’s good for the left that at least some moderates remain within the Republican party, otherwise most of them will flock to the Democrats and marginalize that party’s left wing even further. Then why am I also kind of heartened by the fact that she’s been forced to bow out of the race by a bunch of crazy right-wing teabaggers?

Simply put, I wish we had more people with the tenacity, ideological fervor, and organizational acumen (and yes, money) of the teabaggers on the left. Those guys are indeed crazy and potentially dangerous, but unlike so many on our side (broadly speaking) they’re willing to take chances and buck the constraints of the two-party system when the opportunity presents itself. They actually organize for what they believe in and don’t care if the Republican leadership doesn’t like it. It’s kind of admirable, and their example should be followed (to a certain extent) by those of us on the other side of the spectrum.

A recent article on gives us some insight into the mindset of the kinds of folks that rallied around the campaign of Conservative Party challenger Doug Hoffman and provide leadership for the broad tendency they represent. “I don’t give a crap about party…Grass-roots activists don’t care about party,” says one activist. Another says that “we are not going to allow our [movement] to be stolen by the GOP or by any political party.” Another rails against GOP leadership: their “level of disingenuousness… is disgusting.”

How many people within the main organizations of the broad liberal-left would even think about making similar comments about the Democrats publicly, or begin the work of building a broad movement outside the two party system? Probably not many. Ned Lamont’s 2006 primary challenge to Joe Lieberman notwithstanding, most liberals and even many leftists are too scared by the specter of the benighted Republican hordes overrunning the country to mount a serious challenge to the Democratic party establishment. Every election, we dutifully line up at the polls to support whichever horrible candidate the party leadership throws out there. And each time, we get less and less in return, except for contempt and condescension from the Democratic establishment. Here’s Nancy Pelosi on the progressive activists who work to return her and the rest of her crew to Congress every election: “Privately, she was getting frustrated with the progressives and their whining and carping. ‘There they are, posing for holy pictures,’ she likes to say. ‘Oh, they want to be sainted.’” Talk about disingenuousness. If anyone deserves to be Scozzafavaed, it’s probably her.

Yes, the teabaggers are nuts. Yes, it’s bad that another incompetent right-wing windbag could win a Congressional seat instead of a Republican who’s probably more liberal than many Congressional Democrats. But let’s give them credit where credit is due, and not be afraid of following their example where appropriate.

Update: The New Republic (of all places) recently ran an article on their website on the fate of Organizing for America, the "grassroots" outgrowth of the Obama election campaign. It neatly illustrates what happens when movements get tied too closely to parties, especially party leaderships. Worth a read.

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)