The DSA was formed in 1983 when a splinter group of the old Socialist Party (Michael Harrington's Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee) merged with the New American Movement a coalition of writers and intellectuals with roots in both the "Old" and the "New" left.
Many Democratic Socialists are also members of the Democratic Party. Until recent years, the main aim of DSA was to promote social democratic ideas within the Democratic mainstream. However, since the Democratic Party has been dominated by advocates of neoliberal trade policies such as Bill Clinton and Al Gore, many DSA members are trying to move the organization away from this goal. Three DSA members are currently in the United States Congress: Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Major Owens (D-NY). Ron Dellums (D-CA), who retired from the Congress in 1997, and the current president of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney are also DSA members.