By Adam Pagnucco.
The Metro DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has endorsed Marc Elrich for County Executive and Brandy Brooks, Danielle Meitiv and Chris Wilhelm for Council At-Large. DSA is the successor to socialist organizations once led by Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas. It has grown to become the largest socialist group in America in the age of Trump.
DSA’s endorsement announcement on Twitter.
The Metro DC chapter has posted its questionnaire responses from Elrich, Brooks, Meitiv and Wilhelm on its website. Pertinent information includes the following facts.
All four are members of DSA. Brooks said she was not a member on her questionnaire but her campaign manager, Michelle Whittaker, informs us that she is. Elrich joined decades ago. Wilhelm joined in November 2017. Meitiv said, “I am a DSA member. It would be personally disappointing for me if I did not get the organization’s endorsement.”
Elrich and Wilhelm oppose “privatization” of the liquor monopoly. Wilhelm wrote, “I do not support privatizing the Department of Liquor Control because it provides good jobs for hundreds of county workers and it also generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the county. We cannot afford to eliminate this source of funding.” Meitiv opposes most privatization, but supports it for the liquor monopoly, writing, “With regard to the County Liquor Department, I am of a different mind. I think that the liquor business is not an essential government service and is an artifact of temperance movements and pay for play corruption. I would favor allowing for locally owned and operated private liquor stores.” Brooks’s position is unclear.
Elrich, Meitiv and Wilhelm favor decriminalization of sex work. Brooks does not commit to decriminalization, citing the problems caused by human trafficking.
All four support having Montgomery County act as a sanctuary county for immigrants. Currently, county officials do not consider the county to be a sanctuary jurisdiction.
All four believe undocumented immigrants should have the right to vote in elections.
All four support rent stabilization laws.
All four support tuition-free community college, though Elrich says, “However, we do not currently have resources at the county level (and probably not at the state level, either) to fund it. We should work towards lowering the cost of college, but our ability to do that is constrained by what resources we have.”
The Metro DC chapter of DSA’s logo.
DSA asked, “Do you identify as a democratic socialist?”
Elrich responded, “Democratic socialism doesn’t have a hard and fast definition; I see it as a philosophy that envisions a more democratic society. I believe in democracy in both the political and economic spheres. What does socialism mean now? We are living in the 21st century, and simply reducing political analysis to a debate between 18th century capitalism and 19th century Marxism doesn’t help us find solutions. There are ideas that have worked and have moved society forward that have evolved from both perspectives, as well as things that haven’t turned out so well from both. So a lot of the ideals of democratic socialism contribute to my thinking, but they don’t entirely define my thinking.”
Brooks responded, “I believe strongly in the ability of everyday people being able to ‘freely and democratically’ set the vision for their government and community. That is the essence of the participatory governing strategy I will bring to elected office. On core issues of economic, social, and racial justice, we must also recognize how capitalism and corporate influence on our policies and politics negatively impacts our people, our planet, and our communities. We must remove the influence of corporate money in our politics and policy to create systemic reform.”
Meitiv responded, “I joined DSA because I found a community of activists who share my values and policy goals. As for identifying as a democratic socialist, I am still exploring what that label means, to DSA members and to the public generally, as well as my own understanding. For example, I’m reading about distinctions being drawn by theorists regarding Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism. There should be no question about whether I share the ideals and concerns of the group, or whether I am concerned about publicly acknowledging DSA membership. I am a little hesitant to put myself in a box with a neat label, but I am absolutely comfortable with identifying as a member of DSA for those reasons.”
Wilhelm responded, “Yes.”