Playbook: How a Democratic Socialist Won a Seat in a Trump Country – Forward Observer

Playbook: How a Democratic Socialist Won a Seat in a Trump Country

This report outlines best practices for getting socialists elected in ‘Trump country’. Following a banner year for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in a considerably successful local election season, DSA organizers want to seat more socialists in local elections around the country in 2020. This report is for subscribers of Low Intensity Conflict.

“Ross Grooters explains how he won a city council seat as an open socialist in Pleasant Hill, Iowa—which last year went for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.”

Here are a few of the ways that Grooters claims he won the election:

  1. Volunteers knocked on thousands of doors and had thousands of conversations with voters.
  2. Identifying with the working class by fighting stagnant wages and rising health care costs
  3. Battling the anti-immigration fervor.
  4. Taking local issues like the water crisis head on.
  5. Raising the minimum wage.
  6. A focus on the fear of not being able to thrive and be wealthy.
  7. Getting away from identity politics and connecting likeminded voters, instead of dividing them by race, gender, etc.
  8. Finding social programs that are for everyone.

In the article, Grooters says that the difference between his campaign and other campaigns, is that his turned away from identity politics. He did not try to divide his voter base between gender, race, and sexual preference. However, he did not shy away from trying to drive a wedge between the middle/lower classes and the upper class. Grooters thinks that if the Left starts to stray away from identity politics and really focuses on social issues, they’re going to attract more and more voters.


List of Socialists who won seats in the 2017 November elections.

  • Lee Carter—Virginia legislature
  • Seema Perez— Knoxville City Council— Tennessee
  • JT Scott— Board of Aldermen— Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Ben Ewen-Campen— Board of Aldermen— Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Joel Sipress—City Council— Duluth, Minnesota
  • Anita Prizio— City Council— Allegheny, Pensylvania
  • Charles Decker— Alder of Ward— 9 Connecticut
  • Tristan Rader— City Council— Lakewood, Ohio
  • Vanessa Agueldo— City Council— Peekskill, New York
  • Denise Joy— City Council— Billings, Montana
  • Carlina Rivera— City Council district 2— New York
  • Brian Nowak— Town Council— Cheektowaga, New York
  • Kristen LaLonde— City Commissioner— Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
  • Kara Gloe— School board— Moorhead, South Dakota


Mike Shelby is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. He's now the CEO of Forward Observer.

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