Summer is in full swing and conditions in the U.S. are continuing to deteriorate. The fear and uncertainty about whether another round of relief will be passed federally is only being outweighed by the amount of outrage at the continued escalation of brutal tactics by police and unmarked federal officers on the streets of Portland after over 50 continuous days of protest. In addition, Trump and his cronies have now threatened to send federal law enforcement to cities across the country.
But we know that collective action in the streets is the best antidote to anger and fear. Last month’s explosion of protests and uprisings for Black lives are not going away. We are also moving deeper into the workplace in defense of Black workers, into calls to stop the hasty reopening of schools, and into local and state budget fights where “Defund Police, Fund Communities!” has become a clear and unifying demand.
We are inspired by members and leaders who have brought DSA into the fight, where they and their communities have been in struggle for decades. As our organization and this movement continues to grow, we know that a collective path forward will lead to a socialist tomorrow despite all the dangers before us today.
The NPC had a meeting over the weekend of July 11th and 12th, and we’re excited to share with you some of the decisions we made and what we think they mean for our organization.
Firstly, we decided to have an online convention. This was not an easy decision to make; we know how important to our organization’s democracy it is to have in-person conventions where people can debate, organize, and meet each other. This is a crucial part of building a vibrant, healthy organization, and we don’t take the switch to online lightly.
So, why did we choose to go online?
The first part of the answer is logistical: the convention-planning process needs to start now, and we want to plan for a convention that we know for sure will be able to happen. We don’t want to put ourselves, our staff, and the many volunteers that it takes to pull off a convention, in the position of having to cancel an in-person convention halfway through planning, and essentially have to plan a whole new, online convention. We also don’t want to take the huge financial risk of getting into a venue contract we can’t get out of.
But, more importantly, we know that even if we can meet in person next year, it’s very likely that only a small segment of our comrades would be able to attend. Immuno-compromised comrades, comrades exposed to COVID-19 through their jobs, and comrades who come in close contact with immuno-compromised people would have to sit it out. We don’t believe a convention that is unevenly attended in this way would be truly democratic. So, we’ll convene online next year.
This will take a lot to pull off. The NPC will work with staff and volunteers on planning regional conferences, in-person if possible, to prepare members for convention. We want to adjust the timing of these so that they are held after the submission deadline for the resolutions to be debated at convention. We believe this could be a crucial part of deepening our democracy and creating spaces for political debate ahead of the convention.
We’ve also decided that the current NPC will be putting forward recommendations to the convention, specifically on questions of organizational structure and governance. The last few years of exponential membership growth have been exciting, though full of growing pains, and we think we are uniquely positioned to take responsibility for making specific recommendations about how to improve the functioning of DSA.
We also voted to appoint a committee that will research and develop a timeline for a platform-development process. We hope that this process will coincide with the timeline of the regional conferences and the convention, but we are also aware that it might take longer. Every step of the way, we want to incorporate chapters and members into this process, and use it as a chance to deepen our knowledge about how other groups, in history and our contemporaries, have developed their platforms.
We are very excited about having approved a focused plan to recruit more members around the time of the 2020 Presidential Election. This is the type of targeted recruitment we should be doing to take advantage of pivotal moments and make sure new members are brought into the fold. The Growth & Development Committee will be working to support chapters throughout this process, providing resources and trainings to equip DSA organizers with the skills to recruit and retain new members as we climb toward 100K members.
We voted to immediately begin the process of hiring an additional organizer to support YDSA, which along with DSA, is growing by leaps and bounds. Our YDSA co-chairs initiated this conversation at our meeting last October and we’re glad to see it coming to fruition. YDSA is working to intentionally create new chapters at community colleges and HBCUs in order to reach out to working-class and Black students. Coordinating a nation-wide campus organization with over 100 chapters is a massive task with great potential to recruit thousands of young socialist organizers. We’re happy to report that the NPC is prioritizing it by allocating more of DSA’s resources in support.
STAFF AND THE NPC
We also had a number of challenging conversations at this NPC meeting, specifically surrounding the crucial and essential role that staff plays in our organization. Some staff members shared that they felt they had to silence their political voice to be on staff, and to act as “neutral” administrators. But we are socialists, and we know that every decision we make is political. We as the NPC want to work with staff to make it easier for them to feel confident in putting forward their political opinions in the service of DSA. We believe that the political development of all our members, staff included, is crucial to the success of our struggle against capitalism. We want to work with staff as partners in the same political project, which means being transparent about our political points of view, even when we disagree. We think we have a few more challenging conversations ahead of us, but we are confident that the NPC and staff, and therefore DSA, will emerge stronger for it.
We are proud to have appointed three Black DSA leaders to the NPC: Kevin Richardson, Keon Liberato and Justin Charles.
Kevin is a member of NC Piedmont DSA, a leader in AFROSOC and a member of Socialist Majority Caucus.
Keon is a member of Philadelphia DSA, president of Local 3012 Pennsylvania Federation BMWED-IBT and a member of the Bread & Roses caucus.
Justin is a member of NYC DSA, a rank-and-file member of UAW 7902, and a member of the Emerge Caucus and AFROSOC.
We look forward to working together as we start to prepare for next year’s convention. Above all, we want to take an active role in organizing with our chapters and members. The day-to-day work of the NPC can often be draining and full of minutiae, but we are building a socialist organization of the working class to defeat capitalism. We’ll only win if we all push in the same direction, together.
Other Announcements from Around DSA:
- DSA endorses the BREATHE Act
- DSA 4 USPS — Call Congress TODAY, 7/23 to Save the Post Office!
- Restaurant Organizing Project 7/24 Day of Action and updates
- New Labor for Black Lives Campaign — Join us!
- Join the Queer Socialists Working Group — Discussion Series Starting 8/2
- Tell Democratic Left What Your Chapter is Doing to Support the Uprising
DSA ENDORSES THE BREATHE ACT
DSA endorses the BREATHE Act, recently put forward by the Movement for Black Lives and a wide set of other organizations. Featuring a framework of divestment from the structures of the criminal legal system, and investment in community safety, environmental justice, and Black self-determination, this bill is aligned with many of the fights our national bodies are pushing for and our democratic commitment to abolition made at the 2017 National convention and re-affirmed many times, especially in light of the most recent uprising in the last month.
DSA 4 USPS — CALL CONGRESS TODAY, 7/23 TO SAVE THE POST OFFICE!
Today, Thursday 7/23, the American Postal Workers Union is hosting a call-in day to Congress to save the post office. Multiple bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that would provide $25 billion in COVID-19 related relief for the Postal Service. APWU is hoping to generate 10,000 calls! But if every DSA member calls, we can make way more than that. Call 833-958-2668 RIGHT NOW to save the post office!
If you’ve already gotten your DSA 4 USPS postcards, please make sure you send them to your Members of Congress ASAP! And if you haven’t, there will be more for sale in the DSA store soon.
RESTAURANT ORGANIZING PROJECT 7/24 DAY OF ACTION AND UPDATES
The Restaurant Organizing Project (ROP) is helping food service workers around the country fight for immediate relief and long-term power. We are coordinating a national day of action TOMORROW, Friday, 7/24 to extend federal unemployment benefits, which are set to expire. Contact us ASAP to plan an action in your city!
We are also building a rapid response infrastructure to help workers organizing for safety, like in Boise, where Piehole pizza workers are picketing, and Minneapolis, where distillery workers are demanding a union.
Our next biweekly national call is Tuesday, 7/28 at 7pm ET/6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT — register here! Check out our materials and email us if you want support in setting up your own ROP chapter.
NEW LABOR FOR BLACK LIVES CAMPAIGN — JOIN US!
This past Tuesday, July 14th, DSA’s Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) hosted our first Labor for Black Lives call. To get involved in this campaign, please fill out this quick form!
JOIN THE QUEER SOCIALISTS WORKING GROUP — DISCUSSION SERIES STARTING 8/2
Hello from the Queer Socialists Working Group (QSWG)! We’d like to invite all members of DSA who identify as queer to join us.
The goals of the Queer Socialists Working Group are:
- Develop perspectives on queer oppression/resistance and class struggle through collective political education
- Recruit queer people to DSA
- Connect queer comrades in discussion from DSA chapters across the United States
The QSWG meets once every two months via video conference to discuss group readings, and maintains an email discussion group for discussing topics of interest to queer DSA members. Our first meeting is on Sunday 8/2 at 4pm ET/3pm CT/2pm MT/1pm PT, during which we will discuss the essay “Capitalism and Gay Identity” with author and DSA member John D’Emilio. All working group members are invited — sign up here!
Over the course of the next year we will be discussing a wide range of topics, including the history of Stonewall and ACT UP; queer health and housing issues; and queer workers and the labor movement. Join us!
TELL DEMOCRATIC LEFT WHAT YOUR CHAPTER IS DOING TO SUPPORT THE UPRISING
Chapters across the country have been in high gear for the last month. Let your comrades know what your chapter has been doing to support the uprising, defund the police, and Fight for Black Lives. You can use this form to submit high resolution photos for the print edition of Democratic Left magazine or low-resolution photos for DLOnline. Please include a brief description of the image. The deadline to submit images for print is July 25. Submissions for images for DLOnline are ongoing.