Linda-Ann Mattox, co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America’s Sacramento chapter


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If recent polls on young people’s opinions on capitalism are any indicator, America’s future is socialist. Purple-haired, tattooed and ready to pave the way for the Left in California’s capital city, Linda-Ann Mattox is co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Sacramento chapter. During the day, Mattox is a social work student at Sacramento State, but in her free time she’s out doing her best to help wrangle DSA’s burgeoning new batch of political activists.

You don’t see any or many candidates running for office under the DSA logo. Is it a political party?

We are not a political party, but we actually did endorse Russell Rawlings, the socialist candidate for mayor in Sacramento. So we interfere, I suppose, in politics. We’re a political organization, but we don’t have our own candidates, I guess.

So if DSA is not a political party, what is it?

That’s a really good question. I don’t know how I would classify this. We do education—we’re running a reading group every week. We support other organizations and causes in the area. We’re organizing for certain campaigns in Sacramento right now, so we do a little bit of everything.

What kind of campaigns?

We are in the infancy of doing a student union as well as possibly a riders’ union for transit and a tenants’ union.

Fill in the blanks: Donald Trump is ________.

A fascist.

Hillary Clinton is _________.

A puppet.

Bernie Sanders would have __________.

Started the revolution.

DSA’s membership is exploding. Over 14,000 members nationwide, and they’ve doubled in the last nine months. Why is that?

I think it’s a combination of things. I think we’re a little more socialist than Bernie Sanders, but because he identifies as a democratic socialist people are Googling that, and then we show up. It’s also that people are tired of capitalism, and a lot of them don’t even know that that’s what they’re tired of because they don’t have those connections of capitalism as this enemy force and socialism as the answer to that.

What are the harmful symptoms of capitalism that people might start noticing?

In Sacramento, it’s rent prices being off the charts in comparison to what minimum wage is. It’s food being off the charts. It’s a lack of affordable transportation. It’s the fact that rather than building housing for the homeless in Sacramento we built an arena, and most of the working class is pissed off about that. They don’t understand why this thing that was supposed to make Sacramento better is just benefiting the rich people in Sacramento.

Does DSA Sacramento have an official position on punching Nazis?

No, but I have one.

OK, what’s your personal position?

I’m not going to punch a Nazi, but I think that it’s justified. There’s a huge difference between violence against oppressors and violence as a means of oppression. Those are very different concepts. I think that violence against the oppressor as a means to liberate yourself is a lot different than using it as a way to keep people down. But I’m not going to punch Nazis.

Neither am I.

I don’t want to go to jail.

Neither do I. What do you love about being a democratic socialist?

The democratic socialists are a big umbrella. We have everything from liberals to full-on communists, and I love that because it gives me a way to understand where people are coming from. It gives me more tools to organize campaigns because I know more ideologies. It means that we can have a bigger power base because we have more members. It’s less rigid in ideology, there’s more room for growth in ideology. Everyone’s in their own place in their awareness in what we’re doing.

When you say “liberal,” you’re talking establishment Democrat?

I would say liberal is a Democrat. Maybe an establishment Democrat, maybe a progressive Democrat. A Berner would be a liberal to me.

And yet you’re saying you see value in discourse with them and you’re open to them joining DSA.

Yeah, of course. I kind of skipped the liberal step because I grew up with a Republican father. I went from libertarian to socialist, but I know a lot of people who came into socialist knowledge, and liberalism was the starting point for them. So as much as it’s not where I want people to be, I want to meet people where they’re at and work with the understanding and knowledge that they currently have and give them as much information as possible to hopefully swing a little more left.