Jake Bell

2017 NPC Candidate
Local Chapter: Phoenix


Bio

Since February, I have been working to build the DSA Phoenix chapter, the first DSA chapter in Arizona history. In the ensuing months, a few of our members have referred to me as the “Johnny Appleseed of Arizona socialism” for the drives I’ve made to Tucson and Flagstaff to help local chapters take root to our south and north.

I currently make a living writing user guides and other technical documents for software that’s used to help run self-storage facilities, which, fortunately, leaves me plenty of time to maintain the @DSA_Phoenix social media accounts for roughly 17 hours a day. In the past, I have paid my bills as a children’s author who’s sold over 125,000 books, a union pipefitter (UA Local 469), and a reporter for television and radio.

I have two degrees, but when I was accepted to the PhD program at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism in 2013, I had to decline because I am already carrying more student loan debt than I’ll pay off in my lifetime from my MBA. As a single dad with a daughter two years away from starting college, one of my most selfish interests in socialism is trying to help her, her classmates, and anyone else who wants to learn from being burdened for life as a result.

My second most selfish interest is fighting the tyranny of landlords who don’t allow dogs.

Why I'm Running

With the astronomical growth of DSA nationwide, I think it’s important for new chapters to have representation on the NPC, particularly with so many of the new chapters forming in traditionally “red” parts of the country. Trying to organize in Arizona or Alabama or Montana poses different challenges from organizing in Chicago or New York or Boston. Furthermore, with so many candidates coming from the Northeast and Chicago, I want to bring regional diversity to the NPC by representing what we’ve come to call the “Cactus Caucus” with a perspective on issues that face Southwest and border states.

My Previous Political Work

I began my political organizing work stuffing envelopes in John McCain’s senate office across the street from the Mesa Public Library when I was in 7th grade. I went on to briefly volunteer with McCain’s primary campaign in 2000.

Should I keep going or am I already disqualified?

Last year, after fighting a losing battle for Bernie, I was more energized than I had been by winning with Obama. Determined to continue the fight, I discovered DSA.

For months, I waited for someone who knew what they were doing to start a Phoenix chapter, but it never happened. Finally, I signed up New York for the YDS Revolution at the Crossroads, where I became known as “that old guy who flew in from Phoenix with his daughter.” I took the lessons about organizing from that event, returned to Phoenix, and found a group of comrades ready to start a chapter.

In the months from that meeting to today, I have recruited dozens of new members to our chapter. I have set up and attended the inaugural meetings of the DSA Tucson (organizing committee has recently submitted bylaws) and DSA Flagstaff chapters. I have been the primary contact for our chapter, and have coordinated efforts with Progressive Democrats of America, CAIR, Lucha, Puente, Unite Here, Civic Engagement Beyond Voting, and other progressive groups in Phoenix on actions such as demonstrations at Senator Jeff Flake’s office, the CWA’s AT&T strike, and several community service events to feed poor and homeless Arizonans.

While my resume as an organizer may be short, the best case I can make for my candidacy is that I know as much about being an NPC member now as I did about organizing the DSA Phoenix chapter six months ago.

My Vision for DSA

In short, my vision is that by the 2018 midterms, cable stations and other news outlets will regularly be featuring DSA representatives to discuss upcoming legislation the way they currently flock to put any right-wing nut they can get on Skype on the air.

I see a path where by the time we gather again in two years, leftists in America have gained tangible footholds of power and that DSA is recognized as the force that binds them together. This means continuing to grow while weathering the inevitable drop off this winter of members who reflexively joined in response to the election and inauguration of Trump but never got involved whether of their own choice or because a chapter didn’t exist in their area. This will mean further expansion of our influence on campuses and union halls, but especially in “red states” where no one would have imagined socialism could take root a year ago.