DSA (Democratic Socialists Of America), founded in 1982 to create a political foothold for Marxists, has transformed into an ambitious left-wing force. Membership grew during Sanders’ presidential campaign, and then started surging the day after Donald Trump was elected president in what some DSA members jokingly call the “socialist baby boom.”
The DSA went from 8,000 members in 2015, the year its delegates endorsed Sanders for president, to about 25,000 in 2017, with chapters or branches in 49 states. Its platform calls for a worker-owned economy and the end of traditional capitalism.
“You are the antidote to total isolation of living under capitalism,” said Maria Svart, the national director of DSA, as the convention began. “It’s the job of organizers to build institutions that will be capable of absorbing masses of people and keeping them in motion.”
Although the group endorsed him, Sanders, whose campaign and lasting popularity changed public perceptions of socialism, has not been closely involved with the newly booming DSA. In a recent interview with The Post, Sanders suggested that the organization’s growth was one of many examples of how younger voters were rejecting the post-Reagan political consensus.
“Many young people understand that health care for all, making public colleges free, decent wages and affordable housing are all part of a democratic socialist program,” Sanders said.
The average age of DSA members has since 2015 dropped from 64 to about 30, according to an organizer. A May 2016 Gallup poll, conducted after most of the Democratic primaries, found just that 35 percent of Americans viewed socialism favorably. Among voters under 30, that number rose to 55 percent.