Spring 2020 Political Platform

Madison Area DSA Spring 2020 Political Platform

The Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America (MADSA) is fighting to create a community that is free from oppression and segregation. We believe that everyone deserves the social and economic means to live a thriving and healthy life. In order to get there, we need to start organizing our community so that people have genuine power over the conditions of their livelihood, which means a real say in public policy, their economic and social life, and the governance of their workplace. The MADSA political platform is a series of priorities that our members believe are crucial to the transformation of our society into a genuine democracy, organized around socialist principles.

Our platform consists of building an anti-racist community, confronting climate change and delivering environmental justicecreating equitable schools, guaranteeing mental health care to allending housing injusticestanding in solidarity with immigrants, ensuring that people can practice reproductive rights, and overcoming the economic inequality that is endemic to American society. The MADSA Electoral Politics Working Group wrote this platform while balancing the following values:

Anti-Racist Community

The pernicious effects of racism are present in every aspect of American life. Particularly in Wisconsin, Dane County, and Madison, our community has produced some of the worst racial disparities in the country. Black, Southeast Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous Americans have all endured unique and traumatic oppressions under white-imposed capitalism. MADSA stands for ending systemic racism, which means that we need systematic solutions that give power to communities of color.

  • No F-35s at Truax Airfield: The current F-16 fighter wing and proposed F-35s will make many neighborhoods of color uninhabitable due to deafening noise and water pollution.
  • No Cops in School: We follow Freedom Inc. and other community groups in calling for counselors, not cops, in our school, and ending MMSD’s $360,000 contract with the Madison Police Department.
  • Decarcerate Dane County: Wisconsin is the state with the second highest disparity in incarceration rates between white and black men, and Dane County is amongst the worst in the state. In 2019, Dane County made its largest capital investment in history by approving $225 million for a new jail. If this decision cannot be reversed, we want our state and local representatives to do everything in their power to make sure that this jail is never filled. We call for equal investments in jail diversion programs, restorative justice, housing-first programs, and clemency for all drug-related convictions.
  • Reparations are often deferred as being an issue for national consideration, but they are fundamentally about creating justice within a community. Our community has instigated and perpetuated many varieties of racial injustice over decades and centuries. It is therefore our responsibility to create the conditions for equity and justice. This work could start with a truth and reconciliation commission to make public the history of racial oppression in Wisconsin and Dane County. Further, reparations could be made through the transfer of wealth directly to communities of color, particularly through housing and land.
  • Decolonize education: We join the efforts of Ananda Mirilli and Ali Muldrow to decolonize public education. School curriculum should be revised to teach accurate history and inclusive cultural studies, while also creating classrooms that support children of color.

Climate Change and Environmental Justice

With less than eleven years to adopt radical solutions to solve our climate change crisis, we call upon Dane County and the City of Madison to declare a climate emergency and begin immediate work to mitigate our climate disaster. We support a radical, worker-first, and union-friendly Green New Deal that includes the following concrete actions to improve our ecological footprint and achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in Dane County by 2030:

  • Develop a People First Transportation policy that puts people before cars, paving the way for free bus transit and a car-free isthmus by providing fare-free bus transit to Madison residents, prioritizing bus rapid transit options that favor buses over personal vehicles, ensuring easy bus accessibility to all members of the Madison community, including the disabled and elderly, and expanding the State Street car-free zone to the entire isthmus. Madison Metro workers must be supported by guaranteeing all new public transit jobs be Teamster jobs.
  • Acknowledge our presence on occupied Ho-Chunk territory. Dane County and the surrounding area must continue to build an active and good-faith relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation, recognizing their sovereignty and right to self-determination. Cease production of the Line 66 oil pipeline through ancestral Ho-Chunk lands, and refuse to permit any new interstate oil pipelines.
  • Perform a public buyout of Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) and begin providing 100% renewable energy through city-owned assets. Guarantee the retention of MG&E’s unionized employees at the same or better pay, keeping their labor unions intact, and providing them with any and all necessary retraining.
  • Prepare for more frequent “100-year floods.” In addition to implementing natural stormwater management techniques, Dane County must begin immediate co-study with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources into how we can lower the lakes of the Lower Yahara Watershed back to their natural levels.
  • Promote telecommuting. Enact policies that incentivize companies to allow and encourage their employees to work from the comfort of their own homes, reducing both road congestion and carbon emissions from personal vehicles.

Equitable Schools

Quality education is a fundamental right of all children and families. This means that schools must be equitable for students of color, queer students, and disabled students. Beyond creating “trauma-informed” schools, we must actively work to prevent and dismantle traumatizing systems of oppression in education. Public money should be used to prioritize student learning and family well-being by instituting:

  • Universal Pre-K programming that will allow families to work and thrive while reducing the onerous costs of childcare. At the same time, our schools need to expand after-school programs so that all students can benefit from quality after-school care.
  • Tuition-free education at all 2- and 4-year UW schools.
  • Free, nutritious breakfast and lunch available to every K-12 student.
  • Increase teacher and education worker compensation by the maximum allowable amount under Act 10 each year. This should be done while adding, not removing, staff positions from Madison Metropolitan School District in order to lower student/teacher ratios in the classroom.
  • Racial makeup of teaching staff must match that of the student body.
  • Implement teacher education programs to help teachers intervene and prevent bullying of queer students.

Mental Health Care

Healthcare in America is a system that can provide incredible, life-saving care and treatment, yet it is rationed out for only the wealthiest Americans to use. Health care is a human right and rather than piecemeal solutions, we need comprehensive and universal solutions like Medicare For All. These solutions need to recognize the struggles of workers in the mental health care industry — such as unionized workers at Journey Mental Health Center — and allow for workers to organize within their workplace. While we demand Medicare For All at the national level, our community can take steps forward to make universal mental health care a reality.

  • Universal Mental Health Care: Regardless of the cause or condition, all people have a right to receive quality mental health and addiction treatment. Commercial insurance and privatized Medicaid have failed to provide care for the mental health of our community, and it’s time to find a new solution. We propose that Dane County implement universal mental health care insurance coverage that would cover all county residents, children and adults alike. The coverage would include outpatient therapy, psychiatry and medication, substance use and addiction treatment, and inpatient care.
  • Emergency Mental Health Response: Currently, Dane County and Madison use law enforcement officers to respond to mental health emergencies. We support Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s proposal to build alternative emergency response services for mental health crises.
  • Treatment, Not Prison: Countless people end up in our jails and prisons due to a lack of addiction and mental health treatment options. Often, incarceration is the result of a lack of resources and space available at existing treatment providers. We demand that Dane County build a crisis center providing inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health treatment, as well as homelessness intervention.

Housing Justice

Our community is in the throes of a crisis of housing. Far beyond an issue of affordability or availability, tenants face hostile landlords who destroy the lives of families through unjust evictions and substandard housing. We need to treat housing as a fundamental right of everyone in our community and build significantly more housing in Dane County, while also shifting power to tenants, not landlords. State law is no excuse for local paralysis when it comes to solving these crises. Wherever state law prevents municipalities from enacting these policies, we demand our political leaders pass trigger laws that can form the basis for a legal challenge to the state.

  • Tenant Power: Just as workers deserve a voice in their workplace, so too do tenants deserve a voice in their living conditions. Madison should reinstate the 1970s rental relations ordinance that gave tenant unions the right to bargain with their landlords before a city board.
  • Just cause eviction: Although it is illegal to refuse to renew a lease for retaliatory purposes, it is nearly impossible for a tenant to prove that this has happened. The City of Madison should establish a limited set of conditions under which lease non-renewal is allowed, and put the burden on landlords to demonstrate that those conditions have been met when they decide not to renew a tenant’s lease.
  • Affordability: A person working for minimum wage needs to work almost three full-time jobs to afford rent on the average two-bedroom apartment in Madison. To stabilize this crisis, the city should implement rent control as well as eliminate single-family zoning, making it legal to build more affordable “missing middle” homes (duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes), as was recently done in Minneapolis.
  • Legal representation: MADSA calls on the city to guarantee free legal representation to every renter facing eviction in the city.
  • Vacancy Tax: We need to make sure that homes are built for people, not money. We demand Madison implement luxury, vacancy, and AirBnB taxes similar to the one in Vancouver.
  • Social Housing: We call for a social housing program to look beyond this crisis to a future where our city offers fair and secure housing to all. The City of Madison should take the $25 million it has in the Affordable Housing Trust and use it to directly buy or build truly democratic,affordable, and green housing. Public money should not be given to developers as subsidies and incentives, which only serve to profit landlords.


Immigration status is yet another way that people are segregated by class and race in our society, allowing for the separation of families, exploitation of workers, and horrible trauma to be inflicted upon people seeking a better life. Immigration detentions and deportations are inhumane and must end immediately.

  • Boycott Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contractors: Dane County and the City of Madison should revoke or decline to renew contracts with ICE or with companies that contract with ICE. Any companies with contracts with the City of Madison that either cooperate with ICE’s employment compliance program (IMAGE) or have direct contracts supplying ICE with products or services should have these contracts terminated.
  • Driver licenses for undocumented immigrants: Undocumented immigrants cannot legally obtain a valid driver license because the DMV requires proof of legal residence. Anyone who lives and/or works regardless of their “legal” residency should be allowed to obtain a valid driver’s license, allowing them to operate a motor vehicle and carry on with daily life, wherever they may live. The only way this can happen is if the above two requirements are removed, and local governments should begin applying pressure to the state to make this possible.

Reproductive Justice

The body is an essential location for the intersection of ageism, sexism and racism; hatred and love; slavery and freedom. We believe that bodily autonomy is integral to liberation. We operate from a human rights framework of reproductive justice, which encompasses the right to have children if, when, and how we choose, as well as the right to terminate a pregnancy at any time and for any reason. Our society functions on stealing the autonomy of women’s bodies and the subsequent exploitation of women’s unpaid labor. To achieve gender equity, we must work towards reproductive justice that is centered around the bodily autonomy of all people, regardless of their gender.

  • Abortion coverage for all people on state-employee health insurance and public-funded health insurance such as BadgerCare Plus plans. This must also include the legalization of telemedicine to administer abortive medication.
  • End the practice of shackling inmates during childbirth: This practice still occurs in jails across the state and should end immediately.
  • Childcare at public functions: Childcare is a significant barrier for people who want to be citizens involved in their communities. In order to make sure all voices can be heard at public meetings, the city and the county should provide free child care during all public meetings.
  • Tax exemption for menstrual products: Menstrual supplies are a necessity. However, unlike other necessities, menstrual products are subject to sales tax in Wisconsin. Menstrual products should be added to the list of exemptions for the purposes of sales tax.
  • Provide free menstrual products in all public buildings. Dane County has successfully piloted providing free menstrual products in the restrooms of all county-owned buildings. The City of Madison and Dane County should develop this program into an official policy that all public buildings will provide menstrual products free of charge to those who need them.
  • Provide free over-the-counter hormonal birth control and long-term reversible birth control so that everyone who needs birth control, including minors, can have it.

Economic Justice

We can’t achieve an equitable society without addressing economic inequality. We live in a class-based society that is organized to keep people poor in order to support the wealth of an undeserving few. Healthy, educated, and equitable societies cannot exist in the face of extreme economic segregation, and we believe that all people in society deserve economic dignity.

  • One year paid parental leave for all Wisconsin residents. The State of Wisconsin should levy taxes on corporations so as to fund a public system for paid parental leave.
  • $15/hour minimum wage along with the abolition of the service industry wage and tipping so that anyone working a full-time job doesn’t have to live in poverty!
  • Participatory budgeting at the municipal, county, and state levels of government. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to directly participate in the process of drafting public budgets so that it reflects the needs of our community, not corporations and lobbyists.allows citizens to directly participate in the process of drafting public budgets so that it reflects the needs of our community, not corporations and lobbyists.