How DSA Can Activate an Under-tapped Resource: Retirees (Fall 2021) Responses

As a 73 -year-old elder, lifelong democratic socialist, and founding member of DSA, I appreciate this nod at including people like me as active chapter members. I have much political experience as an organizer and leader of labor and social justice organizations, as well as political campaigns.

There are a number of factors keeping me from being more active, some physical, some psychological. I can no longer go on hours-long marches and demonstrations, my hearing makes it difficult to do phone work, etc. But perhaps the biggest reason has to do with constantly feeling irrelevant and unwelcome by younger people. This is not due, necessarily, to DSA culture, but to the larger culture and my own growing feelings of social vulnerability. I find there are arguments about politics and strategy I am now afraid to make publicly in this current cultural atmosphere on the left. I dread the thought of going to any kind of meeting dominated by “woke” young people who might jump me over some perceived slight. As someone who has always seen myself as aware, and who has been active in anti-racist and feminist politics since 1970, I now find these waters too difficult to navigate.

On the other hand, I have no desire to be put in an old people’s box. So, if these fears can be allayed and I can be made to feel relevant, I could possibly be persuaded to up my involvement.

I am very pleased to see that this issue is being addressed by someone in the organization.

Duane Poncy,
Portland, Oregon DSA