2017 NPC Candidate
Local Chapter: New York City
I’m Chris Maisano, and I’m a member of New York City DSA (NYC-DSA). I first joined DSA as a high school student in the late 1990s, and I’ve been a committed socialist ever since. My commitment to socialism flows from two main sources: my life experiences and a long-standing devotion to political self-education. My family followed a classic working-class immigrant trajectory: from Italy to New Jersey by way of Brooklyn. Watching my parents fight every day to provide for my sisters and I taught me the harsh lesson that hard work isn’t always rewarded, and stimulated my interest in learning why the world is the way it is.
That interest was furthered by a somewhat unlikely source: Catholic school. I went to both public and Catholic schools growing up, and it was the Church that first exposed me to critical perspectives on capitalism and militarism. Learning about Catholic social teaching, as well as our government’s support for right-wing death squads that killed priests and nuns in Central America, set me on a path that eventually lead to socialism and internationalism. I have long since left the Church, but I’m grateful for the important role in played in developing my political perspectives and my hunger for justice in the world.
I went to college at Rutgers, and during that time I participated in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements. After graduation I went to work as a union organizer, and then obtained a degree in library science. I worked for about five years as a public librarian in Brooklyn, and was a rank-and-file activist in AFSCME District Council 37 (DC 37), Local 1482. From there I went to work as a research staffer for DC 37, and today I work for a nurses’ union in New York. Altogether, I have about a decade’s worth of experience in the labor movement in a variety of different roles and settings.
Why I'm Running
I’ve been in and around DSA for many years, and the rapid growth of our organization is one of the most exciting things to happen in my political lifetime. I’m running for the NPC on the DSA Momentum slate because I want to consolidate our gains and transform DSA into the kind of mass socialist organization our country desperately needs.
I have also been a contributing editor for Jacobin magazine since its first issue, and strongly believe that socialist activists must be thinkers (and writers!) as well as fighters. An organization like DSA is lost without a coherent political vision that unites all members behind a common project and allows us to speak clearly and confidently to the people at large. This is what distinguishes us politically from liberals and progressives, and prevents us from lapsing into just another activist group.
My Previous Political Work
Over the last year, I have worked alongside many dedicated comrades to help build NYC-DSA into the strong and dynamic local of 2,000 members it is today. I just finished a one-year term on our local’s Steering Committee, and am active in our labor organizing and political education activities. I worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign in New York and Philadelphia; helped to coordinate our strike solidarity efforts during the 2016 Verizon strike; worked with fellow members to organize an extremely successful holiday fundraiser; and served on the planning committee of the recent NYC-DSA Socialist Day School, a day-long political education event. I was recently re-elected to a second consecutive term on the NYC-DSA labor branch organizing committee.
My Vision for DSA
For me, there is no socialist movement without a strong and militant labor movement. If elected to the NPC, I pledge to work closely with all DSA members who share an interest in rebuilding working class power in an extremely hostile climate.
I am also committed to working with members across political and ideological lines to create systematic, organization-wide processes to discuss the key political questions facing DSA in order to strengthen our collective vision, analysis, and strategy. This has been a long-standing need in DSA, and it’s only become more urgent with the huge influx of new members into our organization.