Austin Democratic Socialists of America

Sarah Morris

Do you self-identify as a man?:
No

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

Please describe your involvement in Austin DSA:
I joined DSA one year ago and was totally new to organizing. I’ve tried to expose myself to various types of work and committees to see how I could most effectively serve. I’ve been involved in Feminist Action Committee, helped get EcoSocialism and Mutual Aid committees up and running, and canvassed a handful of times for Medicare for All, Paid Sick, the affordable housing bond (Prop A). I also involved in planning and executing the direct action in response to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation that resulted in shutting down the Lamar Bridge for several hours during ACL weekend.

What strengths would you bring to the leadership committee?:
I’m incredibly patient. In communication, I can be clear and distill complex ideas. I’m approachable and understanding and I think most members would be comfortable coming to me with concerns. As a relatively new member, the experience of joining and getting active in DSA is still fresh in my mind. With this perspective, I’ll be particularly in tune with the needs of incoming members. Additionally, I have a lot of experience with project management and can design functional workflows and organization systems that can be scaled up. I have pretty good instincts around what will work and what’s maintainable in the long term when lots of people are involved.

If elected, what would be your priorities be for the leadership committee and Austin DSA?:
• Expanding our infrastructural capacity for new membership, new member recruitment and rapid mobilization of new members.
• Creating more centralized/digital tools for organizing, like resource libraries, project management tools, etc.
• Accessibility and addressing both material (i.e. child care) and cultural (i.e. overly wonky dialogue and use of jargon) barriers to participation.
• More strategic focus on priorities/initiatives with greatest impact toward building socialism.

What is your approach to resolving conflict and achieving consensus among differing viewpoints?:
People need to feel heard — that’s what I focus on in any conflict situation. I really believe there are win-wins to be found in most interpersonal situations if both parties are able to be honest about what they want, a little bit flexible and a little bit creative. I’m very comfortable with non-violent dispute resolution conversations and de-escalating in emotionally heightened situations.

Achieving consensus can be difficult in groups when there are truly diverging viewpoints. It’s important to make sure that everyone who wishes to speak has a fair chance to present their viewpoint to an audience who respectfully listens. A leader in a democratic organization should be careful not to force the group to consensus prematurely. Instead, a good leader should continually work to clarify the decision that needs to be made and what is at stake, while encouraging everyone to follow the established community guidelines in their dialogue.

Do you identify with any caucus or political tendency, either within DSA or in general?:
In general, Democratic Socialism. I have identified myself as a socialist for many years without knowing much about the various tendencies within. I’ve made an effort over the past year to better educate myself on various socialist/leftist ideologies and can comfortably say that I identify as a Democratic Socialist and believe it’s positioned as the most viable strategic framework for building a mass movement at this moment. I’m also very sympathetic to the anarchist movement. Though I don’t believe that our society is yet ready to operate without government, I strongly identify with many anarchist principles and modes of praxis (namely, horizontalism, voluntary association, direct democracy, mutual aid). Within DSA, no. It’s not a priority for me to align with any specific caucus. This is a critical moment for Democratic Socialism in American history and a unique opportunity in our lifetimes. I strongly believe we need to focus on accessibility and nurturing a welcoming environment for new and potential members to build a mass movement within the working class.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?:
I’ve carefully considered running for LC and ultimately decided to do so because I think I have the skill set to support this organization from an administrative perspective. I consider this an act of service to the entire chapter rather than an opportunity to influence anyone toward any specific objectives. If elected, as a member of the LC my guiding principle will be simply to do whatever needs to be done to empower each committee and individual member to take action and be highly effective in their organizing work.