Austin Democratic Socialists of America

Dave Pinkham

Do you self-identify as a man?:
Yes

Do you self-identify as a person from a traditionally marginalized group?:
No

Please describe your involvement in Austin DSA:
I joined Austin DSA at the beginning of 2017 and began attending meetings regularly. After attending the 2017 National DSA Convention as an observer and volunteering as a marshall, which was one of the most inspiring and motivating events I’ve been lucky enough to participate in, I returned home and began organizing in earnest to help Austin DSA grow in strength and numbers. I organized volunteers to fill all the roles we needed to facilitate our large monthly General Body Meetings. I helped with the creation and passage of our chapter’s first major bylaws change, which restructured the elected leadership of Austin DSA from just 2 co-chairs to a 9 member committee, allowing for more democratic and diverse representation of the chapter’s membership. In November 2017, I was elected chapter co-chair and have served in this position since.

As co-chair I have worked to expand and improve both internal and external organizing for Austin DSA. Externally, I have focused on campaigns oriented toward winning transformative victories that shift the balance of power toward working class folks, build DSA’s relationships with other organizations and improve our ability to work in coalition, and grow DSA by recruiting new members and moving existing members into the core of the organization through the work. In 2018 we worked on major campaigns for Paid Sick Days, Medicare For All, a $250 million Affordable Housing Bond, and Police Accountability reform, among others. On a personal level for me and on an organizational level for Austin DSA, all these campaigns have offered the opportunity to both lead and be led, to teach and to learn, and to normalize the fight for socialism as the issue of our time.

Internally, I have focused on improving and clarifying the methods by which our membership communicates, both at our General Meetings through use of structures that allow more equitable access to discussion and in the interim by encouraging the use of shared communication platforms and being readily available to help members of Austin DSA when they need it. Though I did not imagine this when I was elected co-chair, I have found that one of my primary roles is to facilitate, coordinate, and connect members so that they have all the resources they need to complete the work they’re doing

What strengths would you bring to the leadership committee?:
I am patient, hardworking, and dedicated to building DSA and working class power more broadly. I am willing and able to dedicate a significant portion of my time to make sure our movement keeps growing. For the last year, I have spent between 10-20 hours per week on average on DSA related activities.

I am excited by the vision of the socialist utopian horizon and am always excited to share that vision with folks in a way that meets them where they are and inspires them to join in the struggle.

I have the experience of the last year of building DSA from a chaotic mass into an organized force and the equal parts enthusiasm and self-critique to match.

If elected, what would be your priorities be for the leadership committee and Austin DSA?:
I think the most important thing for DSA is to engage in organizing campaigns that fight for transformative reforms and actively engage working people in struggle against the oppressive structures of capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. We should lead our own campaigns and also work in coalition with other organizations that are confronting these oppressions in order to both win immediate improvements in the material conditions of people’s lives and to build long term trust with the diverse and divided parts of the working class. As we build this trust and solidarity, we will have the opportunity to point the way toward a socialist future where structural class, race, gender, and all other kinds of oppressions are dismantled and replaced with a society based on human freedom.

To enable us to fight and win these campaigns, I believe the Leadership Committee should focus on expanding our socialist political education as well as facilitating regular organizing trainings in order to engage our membership and equip them with the tools they need to build power. By doing so we can create a clearer path for our new leaders to gain the skills and knowledge they need to grow DSA.

What is your approach to resolving conflict and achieving consensus among differing viewpoints?:
In my time as co-chair, I’ve arrived at the point of view that political conflict is a healthy and normal part of a large and rapidly growing organization such as DSA. As elected leaders, and more broadly as members of DSA and comrades, it is our collective responsibility to continue to build an internal culture that facilitates the expression of differing views with as much discussion and debate around them as possible. Though it is often difficult, a critical part of this is to keep political differences separate from interpersonal conflict. As I’ve learned along the way, I have done my best to frame and engage in conflict in this fashion and will continue to try and improve constantly in my ability to do so.

Do you identify with any caucus or political tendency, either within DSA or in general?:
I am a democratic socialist and a Marxist. By that, I mean that I believe the purpose of DSA is to overthrow capitalism and all structural oppressions in order to create a liberated democratically governed society and that the first step on the path to doing so is organizing the working class into direct confrontation with the powers of capital, patriarchy, and white supremacy.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?:
Socialism will win!