Dan La Botz

2017 NPC Candidate
Local Chapter: New York City


I have been a socialist activist since 1969 when I joined the International Socialists (IS), which in 1986 became part of Solidarity. I served on the national leadership bodies of both of those organizations. After attending the last DSA Convention two years ago as an observer for Solidarity, I joined DSA about a year and a half ago.

In the 1970s I became involved in unions. I was a founding member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union in 1976 and subsequently worked for various unions and community groups as well as with immigrant rights groups. I was a Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 2010, built an organization, campaigned throughout the state, and won 25,000 votes. I am co-editor of the independent socialist journal New Politics and a writer for Jacobin, Labor Notes, Against the Current and other publications. I was for 20 years editor of the Mexican-U.S. union publication Mexican Labor News and Analysis.

I teach labor studies, principally about Latin American labor, at the Murphy Institute, the labor school of the City University of New York. I am the author of several books on labor and politics in the United States, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Indonesia.

Why I'm Running

I believe the central political issue facing DSA is its relationship to the Democratic Party and especially to progressive organizations such as MoveOn.org, OurRevolution, and Indivisible. While we should work in coalition with those groups, I want to work to make sure that DSA charts an independent and socialist course. We should harbor no illusions about reforming or capturing the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not our party; we should not become involved in its internal life.

We have many tasks to accomplish, such as making the organization more racially and gender diverse, and transforming ourselves into a working class organization. Most important of the tasks, we have to build the Resistance. All of the organizing work we do, however, will be harvested by the Democratic Party if we cannot work to build an independent political alternative.

We should support socialist candidates and progressive candidates in the Democratic Party, but we should not–if and when those candidates lose–back the corporate Democrats. The central political challenge is to avoid being swept up into the progressive organizations, which in the end usually support the Democrats corporate candidates.

So while joining coalitions where appropriate, we should be wary of the Democratic Party and especially of its progressive wing, which will be most enticing to our members and friends. We do not want DSA to become simply a small group at the left margin of the Democratic Party. We want through coalition work to build a powerful social movement, a resistance with its own political identity, and its own political expression.

None of the various caucuses have taken a strong and clear position on this point. Whatever your own views, you should want at least one person on the NPC who has my critical view of the Democratic Party progressives, because having this issue raised and argued will make the entire leadership and the organization more thoughtful on all electoral and other political questions.

My Previous Political Work

I work in the NYC DSA Political Education Committee and well as in the Immigrant Justice Working Group (IJWG) and with the New Solidarity Coalition. I am a member of the Central Brooklyn Branch. I have worked with the IJWG in the New Sanctuary Coalition, involving Latino and Haitian churches. Rahel Biru and I led the introductory class for hundreds of new members in New York over the last several months. I was also involved in planning, organizing, and speaking on the labor movement at our socialist day school. I have been a regular at DSA political meetings, social events, and picket lines.

My Vision for DSA

I envision DSA becoming better organized, more racially and gender diverse, and more working class. I see us, through our activism in the many movements from the environment to labor and from anti-racism to feminist organizing, becoming well-respected activists and leaders in those movements. At the same time, I see us working to build the Resistance, that is the movement in the broadest sense, and striving to make iit politically independent in its thinking while also maintaining its organizational independence. I see DSA engaged in important and exciting social movement organizing, becoming rooted in working class communities and engaged in passionate (and respectful) debate about the right direction for DSA, for the Left, and for our country.