What We Stand For

Preamble

The Delaware Democratic Socialists of America (DE DSA) is committed to creating a society built on compassion and equity rather than greed and oppression. We are socialists because we believe in a just world based on popular control of resources and production, equitable distribution, and a dignified life for every person. We are democratic because we know that this transformation cannot be won from the top down, by a small group of elites who claim to have all the answers, or even by well-meaning politicians. This transformation can only come from the bottom up, when millions of working-class people stand together.

The First State stands as the capitalist spine of our nation, a tax haven and home to countless shell corporations. The laws passed and legal disputes settled here not only impact global corporations, but more importantly, the working-class people who are subjugated by them. Decades of a neoliberal agenda of tax avoidance for the wealthy, slashed spending on social services like education and social security, and the deregulation of industries leading to environmental degradation and the climate crisis expose the hollowness of the “Delaware Way.

We seek to build a democratic socialist society that ends all systemic domination, whether it is based on class, race, religion, ethnic origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, disability, or gender. Residing on Lenni Lenape and Nanticoke lands, we recognize that our state and country is one built on the theft of lives, land, and labor, from the genocide of Indigenous people to the enslavement of Black people to patriarchalist suppression of women and LGBTQ+ people. We believe that it is only through a multi-racial working class coalition that we can confront and ultimately end the multiple oppressions that racial capitalism produces. We commit to organizing to win power for the good of all Delawareans—from the streets of Wilmington, to the farms of Kent County, and on the shores of Rehoboth Beach.

DE DSA ascribes in principle to goals laid out in the National Platform of the DSA as democratically approved in 2021 by our highest body, the DSA National Convention. In our platform, we apply these goals through our chapter priorities and add concrete objectives specific to the political landscape in Delaware.

Abolition of the Carceral State 

Incarceration, detention, and policing are active instruments of class war; they guarantee the domination of the working class and reproduce racial inequalities. The origins of policing and prisons and their present-day effects demonstrate that they are white supremacist institutions. Yet these same institutions, in their prosecution of and disproportionate violence against Black, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, and other people of color, have consequences for the whole of the working class—they widen divisions between people, legitimize the expansion of police power, and accelerate institutional incentives to violate and imprison millions of people. 

For all of the working class to achieve collective liberation, we must constrain, diminish, and abolish the carceral forces of the state—from prisons and police themselves, to their manifestations in all forms throughout society.

We are committed to the horizon of abolition and the path leading us there.

Delaware is an instructive example of how white supremacy is at the foundation of its criminal justice system. As a slave state that remained in the Union, Delaware was exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation and did not free its slaves until two years after the end of the Civil War. Further, Delaware was never occupied by a union army as states in rebellion were and never experienced the elections of Black state legislators as those states did. Not until a brief season of power by Lincoln Republicans in 1901 did Delaware ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments (Hoff, S.). Indeed, Delaware used the whipping post until the middle of the last century to instill terror in Blacks and poor whites. 

Today, Delaware has a higher imprisonment rate than three-fifths of the states (Sentencing Project), and its prison demographics reflect its racist character. The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) reports that its current prison population is 3236, including 1216 who have not even been tried. Of these, The DOC 2020 Annual Report counts 62% as Black (only 22% of the general population is Black), 33% white (69% of general population), 5% Latinx/Hispanic, and under 1% Asian/Pacific Islander. The Annual Report lists 114 out of 3236 inmates as having physical disabilities. 

The report exposes the cruelty and incompetence of Delaware’s carceral state by admitting that 39.5% “of its current population [have] a mental illness, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders.” These numbers demonstrate how quickly a great portion of funding and care could be shifted to effective and appropriate programs. 

Furthermore, the condition of immigrant workers is compounded by the intersection of racist policing and Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE). Largely Latinx/Hispanic and Indigenous, Delaware’s poultry workers see their rights, pay, and working conditions eroded by a cynical policy of relying on the undocumented while keeping their families in terror of raids by ICE and afraid to involve police in issues of security and rights. Immigrant children trying to survive trauma become trapped in the classroom-to-prison pipeline when they require a trauma-informed blend of very small classes and immersion.

With rare exceptions, Delaware politicians and DOC officials offer piecemeal solutions and window dressing instead of real action on significant, feasible, and humane steps on the path to Abolition.

Our Demands:

Invest in community self-governance and care, not cops 

  • Facilitate such self-governance through neighborhood councils, multilingual resources for immigrant and asylum-seeking communities, non-coercive drug and alcohol treatment programming, mental health services, youth and arts programs, and community-based public safety approaches, such as unarmed de-escalation of mental health crises by trained professionals.
  • Develop and implement community systems of Restorative Justice centered on persons harmed, facilitated among equals rather than mediated or coerced, and aiming for a values-based consensus grounded in solidarity, compassion, and responsibility.
  • Implement language justice and equity among victims, accused, families, and communities.

Demilitarize the police and end colonial policing of our cities and neighborhoods 

  • Cease police occupation of Black and brown communities, data and resource sharing with ICE, police surveillance programs, zero tolerance policies in schools, and suspensions and expulsions.
  • Disarm law enforcement officers, including the police and private security 
  • Prohibit training and equipment exchanges between U.S. law enforcement and global military and policing entities.
  • Provide trauma-informed education for children of immigrants, four to a class,

Defund the police by rejecting any expansion to police budgets or scope of enforcement while cutting budgets annually towards zero.

  • Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which protects police from discipline.
  • End qualified immunity.
  • Reallocate funds to provide body cameras to all police.
  • Reallocate funds and enhance budgets for Crisis-Response Programs to aid individuals and families in crisis non-violently and with the capacity to provide mental health care, housing, safety, and other necessary services.
  • Remove police from hospitals, care facilities, and schools, and prohibit their access to records.
  • Expel police unions from labor federations and make their negotiations public.
  • Fire police with excessive use of force complaints, disallow rehiring of cops fired for misconduct, and withhold pensions for egregious violations such as planting of evidence, perjury, frame-ups, racketeering, membership in racist organizations, sexual and other assaults, and murder.

End the criminalization of working-class survival 

  • End all fines and fees associated with the criminal legal process.
  • Abolish all asset forfeiture programs and laws.
  • End mandatory arrest and failure to protect laws that lead to the criminalization of survivors of gendered violence; grant clemency to criminalized survivors.
  • Legalize the recreational use, home growth, and sale of cannabis. Pass pending legislation and implement 30% equity licensing.
  • Expunge all criminal convictions associated with the use of and trade in drugs other than truly violent crimes such as sexual and other assaults, kidnapping, and homicide.

Freedom for all incarcerated people 

  • Make all communication between prisoners and families free
  • To address the COVID-19 pandemic, release all prisoners over 65, short-timers, non-violent, disabled, mentally ill offenders and otherwise vulnerable inmates.
  • Regardless of COVID-19, release all over 65 to the lowest level of home confinement.
  • Provide trauma-informed mental health assistance to inmates and families on par with the highest quality available on the outside.
  • Provide air conditioning and high quality and nutritional food appropriate to culture and religion to restore and optimise health.
  • Provide longer visits, overnight stays, childcare, and well-designed facilities for families to recreate and preserve relationships.
  • Provide an independent public advocate (ombudsperson) with authority to order changes on behalf of both prisoners and their families.
  • End pre-trial detention, civil commitment, and imprisonment for parole violations.
  • Abolish all accomplice liability laws. 
  • Permit and facilitate the right of prisoners to vote, both while incarcerated and immediately upon release.
  • Pay prevailing wages without reductions for all prison labor, and permit full rights to expression and labor organizing.
  • Guarantee housing for all released prisoners.
  • Eliminate solitary confinement.
  • Eliminate capital punishment in all its forms, including life imprisonment without parole.
  • Prohibit the trial of children under 18 as adults.

Freedom of working-class self-organization and democratic political action 

  • Repeal all legal prohibitions on organized labor and political assembly, on living unhoused, on squatting in vacant housing, and on engaging in street economies. 
  • Forbid police agencies from contacting ICE when serving the immigrant population.
  • End wage theft from immigrant construction workers in state contracts and pay prevailing wages, currently $50.55/hour for laborers (Mar, 2021).
  • Decriminalize sex work and drug trades. 

Green New Deal 

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report has made it clear that the human-driven climate crisis is well under way and that we must act rapidly to avoid irreversible damage to our planet.  Capitalism has created an existential crisis for humanity through endless extraction, exploitation, and destruction of our planet. Because industry chases short-term profits without regard for long-term impact, climate change is yet another challenge humans will have to overcome in the 21st century. 

Delaware enjoys 381 miles of ocean and tidal inlet coastline, but, as the lowest lying state in the nation, it is the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather. Delaware’s corporate-friendly laws make it home to over one million corporate entities including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy—three of the top 20 industrial greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Gore, DuPont, Chemours, and Mountaire Farms have directly polluted Delaware’s air, ground and surface water, and soil. The members of global society made most vulnerable by colonialism are hit hardest and first, and the frontlines of the climate crisis are quickly expanding to threaten the whole working class. 

DSA is fighting for a social order that works for people and the planet, not profit. In addition to supporting the Green New Deal (Senate Version, House Version) and Green New Deal for Public Schools on a federal level, Delaware DSA supports the following climate- and job-related goals, many of which are taken from the Green New Deal for Delaware, for our state. These goals shift power to the working class, end the domination of massive corporations over our lives, repair our infrastructure, and regenerate living systems. Our goal is a truly just transition to a sustainable worldwide economy based on societal and ecological care

 that secures human flourishing for many generations to come. 

Our Demands:

Guarantee free access to a healthy and clean environment

  • Pass a Green Amendment to the Delaware constitution that guarantees every Delawarean a right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment, making sure that protection of the environment is not just based on political convenience.
  • Require cumulative health risk assessments for new industry, taking into account aggregate effects of pre-existing industries.
  • Hold pre-existing industries to higher environmental regulations involving chemical use, clean air, water, energy, waste disposal and restoration, and natural systems and plant and animal life.
  • Healthy food is a human right. End food deserts and promote green, food producing spaces in urban settings as a city planning priority.

Make sure the benefits of a green economy go to everyone

  • Ensure the monetary settlements from climate-related lawsuits directly aid frontline communities.
  • Expand grants and subsidies to community renewables.
  • Provide truly equitable education and apprenticeships for the renewable sector.
  • Democratize control and social ownership of major energy systems and resources, nationalizing fossil fuel producers to phase them out as quickly as necessary. 
  • Free access to energy and utilities. 
  • Union wages, benefits, and dignified work conditions for agricultural workers.
  • Socialization of industrial agriculture and the transformation of capitalist agribusiness to a sustainable food system with the goal of carbon negative farming, focusing on sustainable techniques on an industrial scale placed in the democratic administration of farmworkers. Reduction of onerous manual work through labor-saving technology without austerity and an end to paying farm workers by piece rate.
  • Guarantee a job with union wages and benefits to everyone who wants one, achieving full employment by creating public sector jobs in decarbonizing and low-carbon care sectors, focusing first on a just transition by finding dignified and good paying jobs for workers in the fossil fuel industries.  

Boldly Move to Renewables

  • Join other states in setting a firm deadline for 100% renewable electricity. Current law mandates 25% renewable energy by 2025, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stipulates 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • Install more electric vehicle infrastructure and continue to convert and expand to clean and free public transportation.
  • Invest in public research and development of green technology.
  • Expand statewide conservation efforts of land, water, and wildlife. Provide public funding for restoration of wetlands and reforestation of truly biodiverse forests rather than tree farms. 
  • Expand walkable/bikeable infrastructure through strengthening Complete Communities legislation.

Health Justice 

We need a system of guaranteed healthcare that prioritizes the well being of working-class Americans over the profits of insurance companies and their billionaire executives. We need a single, universal system with comprehensive coverage that is free at the point of service. We need to build a health justice movement to save lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, exposed our country’s massive racial and economic health disparities, and made clear the necessity of free healthcare for all.  Socio-economic and environmental factors, along with co-morbidities rooted in the for-profit healthcare system, account for the disproportionate deaths from illness and disease including COVID-19 among Black and Indigenous people in the United States.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware has historically suffered from high healthcare costs, and costs are growing faster in Delaware than in almost any other state.  In 2014, Delaware had the fourth-highest health care expenditures per capita in the nation.  Unfortunately, our system fails many people, especially those in vulnerable communities.  In 2017, an estimated 70,000 adults throughout Delaware were uninsured.  Delaware has also suffered greatly from the opioid crisis.  According to the CDC, our state had the second-highest drug overdose death rates in the nation in 2019.

On a national level, Medicare for All provides the model for a society based on solidarity and caregiving, which re-directs resources and establishes healthcare as a public good. Food insecurity, environmental racism, mass incarceration, police violence, and the violence of mass detention of immigrants: these must all be addressed as interlocking public health crises that demand a comprehensive, transformative response. We must create a culturally competent healthcare system that listens to, honors, and responds to the experience of Black and brown patients.

Our government must ensure that everyone, regardless of employment, immigration, or insurance status, receives the healthcare they need — including free testing and treatment, mental healthcare, and long-term care for people with disabilities. Health care is 20% of the United States economy: Medicare for All is not just the only moral choice, it will strike a blow against capitalist interests by eliminating a huge source of private profit and replacing it with a universal public good. Our horizon is a de-commodified, publicly run national healthcare system in which no one profits from the health or sickness of another person.

All patients, regardless of race, gender, medical history, income, or immigration status, must receive high-quality, equitable care.  Healthcare should be a human right.

Our Demands:

Public ownership and funding of our healthcare system, including hospitals and other healthcare providers, pharmaceutical research and production, and other medical research and production facilities.  An example of this single-payer, single-provider healthcare model is the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).  We also support the creation and maintenance of community-owned hospitals and clinics.  

Medicare for All, which is: 

  1. Single-payer: Everyone will be covered by one health insurance program, administered by the federal government, providing equitable medical services and treatments.  There will be no need to worry about whether your doctor is in-network or out-of-network.
  2. Comprehensive: All medically necessary services must be fully covered. Everyone goes to the provider of their choice. Dental, vision, hearing, mental health, reproductive health, abortion, long-term care, gender-affirming care, pharmaceuticals, and substance abuse and addiction treatment are all included. 
  3. Free at the point of service: All healthcare costs will be financed through taxes, predominantly on the wealthy and corporations; no copays, no fees, no deductibles, no premiums, and no surprise bills. Ever.
  4. Universal: Coverage for all United States residents — non-citizens included. 
  5. Employment: A jobs initiative and severance for those affected by the transition to publicly administered healthcare.

Increase funding for Medicare/Medicaid, community health centers, the Veterans Health Administration, the Indian Health Service, public hospital systems, disability care, mental health services, and other existing underfunded public health services 

Eliminate disparities in health outcomes, particularly in Black maternal health, by providing Medicaid and private insurance reimbursement for doula services to every birthing person, provide doulas for those in prison, and include racism and implicit bias training for healthcare workers and staff.

Free medical school, nursing school, and other training for healthcare workers that creates a workforce that is trained and equipped to deliver healthcare equitably. Guarantee well-paid jobs with benefits and dignified working conditions in order to address the primary care physician and nursing shortages in our country.

Guarantee home health care for all who need it to decrease institutionalization 

Eliminate the undue political influence of the healthcare industry, including hospital corporations and the pharmaceutical industry, which must be returned to their community service mission and cease price-gouging patients.

Fund research into health issues based on human need rather than the potential to make profit.

Implement a Medicaid Buy-In program to offer a public option for healthcare in Delaware.  This program would provide thousands of Delaware families with an alternative to private insurance, and all Delawareans would be eligible to enroll in Medicaid.  Healthcare expenses have grown about 40% slower for Medicaid than private insurance expenses over  the last 30 years, and research shows that healthcare expenditures are about 22% lower for Medicaid enrollees than private insurance enrollees, even though both consume healthcare services equally.  It must be emphasized that “access to” healthcare is not the same thing as guaranteed healthcare, but a public option may be easier to pass on the state-level due to obstacles such as “balanced budget” requirements being a part of Delaware law.

Implement all-payer rate setting to reduce costs by setting one price for each medical procedure regardless of insurance provider, thus reducing administrative overhead and overcharging.  When paired with spending benchmarks, this system would allow costs for individual procedures and overall state spending to decrease.

Implement a global hospital budget by limiting how much revenue hospitals can take in, to incentivize public health over profits while also keeping rural hospitals afloat.  Maryland is the only State that has implemented this model alongside all-payer rate setting in its history of experimenting with healthcare cost controls.  Rather than seeing readmissions and chronic illnesses as a source of profit, they should be seen as a problem that requires a root cause analysis.

Directly lower the costs of prescription drugs through state legislation. For example, HB 263, which was signed in 2020, caps the amount that individuals must pay for insulin at $100 monthly.

Confront the opioid crisis and reduce drug overdose rates by investing in inpatient and outpatient options for substance abuse treatment as well as increasing access to preventative measures like the life-saving medicine, Narcan.  We must work to ensure that addiction is treated like any other illness.