Translated from REPORTAGE
In Pittsburgh, “we know that socialism is possible”
By Frédéric Autran , Special Envoy in Pittsburgh – January 18, 2018 at 20:16 (Updated January 19, 2018 at 12:07)
In an America not used to mixing, diversity is obvious. Black and White, young and old, nearly 200 people braved the snow and the cold to join, this Monday evening, the crowded back room of the Portogallo Peppers, a bar in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. It was here, in a red brick building in Braddock, a city ravaged by the collapse of steel mills and the crack epidemic of the 1980s, that Summer Lee launched its campaign. At 30, this law graduate raised in the neighboring neighborhood made her political debut. Under the label “socialist”. And with one goal: to dislodge, during the Democratic primaries of May 15, the outgoing district deputy in the Pennsylvania Parliament.
“The thing that strikes me the most is the diversity we have here. I am proud to see that each of you has a place in this campaign, ”said the candidate. The date of the event was not chosen at random: this January 15, the United States is celebrating Martin Luther King Day. “Everyone knows the sanitized version of Martin Luther King, with his speech” I have a dream “. But King was a radical, revolutionary, anti-militarist and anti-capitalist. With this campaign, we want to continue its work, ” preaches Summer Lee. Words in line with the political identity of the young African-American, member for a few months of the organization of the American Socialist Democrats (Democratic Socialists of America, DSA).
Arielle Cohen swelled the ranks of the DSA to the victory of Donald Trump: ” Socialism, democratic principles and feminism have always been part of my political DNA”. She is now co-chair of Pittsburgh DSA, one of the most active groups in the United States. Photo Jeff Swensen for Liberation.
Arielle, 29, sets the scene in Washington during the gigantic Women’s March, organized the day after Trump’s inauguration. There she meets local DSA members. And leaves convinced. Back in Pittsburgh, she participated in the creation of the local branch. “At the end of January, there were a dozen of us in the basement of a church. We organized our first general assembly in February. ” Barely a year later, Pittsburgh DSA, of which she is co-chair, has more than 430 members, making it one of the most active groups in the country.
At the DSA national convention in Chicago in August, three priorities were established: promoting a public and universal health care system, strengthening the union movement, and electing openly socialist candidates. “Our strategy is not at the moment to build a third party”, explains Maria Svart, who defends a “pragmatic electoral approach”. Clearly, she adds, in an American system outrageously padlocked by the Republican and Democratic parties, the idea is to follow in Sanders’ footsteps, “supporting left candidates inside the Democratic Party”.