March Dispatch: It’s About Power

I’m power hungry. I know that’s something people, especially women, aren’t supposed to say. But we need to get serious.

Teachers from California to Kentucky know it. Nurses in New York know it. Locomotive engineers in Pennsylvania know it. Grocery store clerks in Connecticut know it. And they know that the source of our power is organized people.

So when Mitch McConnell names DSA on the floor of the Senate, or moderate Democrats accuse Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism, we need to do like the striking workers, and fight back.

Sometimes the battle will look like a euphoric picket line. Sometimes it will look like a one on one conversation at the kitchen table. But it always looks like building unity and trust with each other, building our muscles and our analysis, through common struggle. I’m so glad we’re in DSA together!

And I have a million announcements for you this month, so without further ado…

NATIONAL UPDATES

ONE: DID YOU VOTE IN THE BERNIE ENDORSEMENT POLL THIS WEEK?

DSA is abuzz with our advisory poll and debates about whether to endorse Bernie Sanders.

If you know someone who didn’t get their personal code via email Tuesday or a postcard in the mail (for those who have not opted-in to national emails or who don’t have an email), please advise them to call the national office at (212) 727-8610 or email bernievote@dsausa.org so we can help them out, as long as they are a DSA member in good standing or within one year in arrears as of February 20. The deadline to vote is Tuesday, March 12 at noon Eastern!

Background Materials on the Bernie Decision

DSA’s National Electoral Strategy document explains that we do electoral work rooted at the local level and run by our own members, so we can build the politically aware base that will keep fighting after election day.

The draft Bernie campaign strategy document lays out the skeletal plan for what happens next if we endorse. The strategy centers the movement and the issues, like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, emphasizes labor and student organizing, includes mass political education about democratic socialism and capitalism through social media, uses our own campaign infrastructure in order to build our own independent power long term, and is focused on chapter capacity building, training and support.

This short power point presentation outlines the key points above and also elaborates on some great new technology and tools we are making available all chapters to aid in all local organizing.

Read debates about the endorsement on the DSA Weekly blog.

Work with your chapter or organizing committee leaders to organize a debate (this memo has tips) and then PLEASE report on it to the national campaign exploratory committee and National Political Committee with this feedback form.

TWO: MEET THE STAFF!

Lisa Flores
Based in New York City

Hello! My name is Lisa and I’m DSA’s Office Coordinator. I make an honest effort to keep the national office running smoothly, handle administrative tasks and membership inquiries, support the Operations, Development, and Organizing Teams, and manage the Chapter Pipeline Committee — maybe you’ve met me on one of our Pre-OC/OC Office Hours calls! My most shameful secret isn’t that I installed a Skyrim mod to increase my carry weight but that I use it to sell overpriced potions to small business owners throughout Tamriel. Sometimes the guilt keeps me up at night. In my free time I enjoy leveling up in Destruction Magic (in Skyrim), fantasizing about brisket, and pretending to follow basketball (shoutout to Carl and the boys — #theflagrantones). Socialism will win. Abolish ICE!

Eric Wimer
Based in New York City

Hey everyone! My name is Eric and I’m DSA’s Regional Organizer for California, Hawaii, and New England, and electoral organizer with our National Electoral Committee. I came to DSA through a winding road that passed through phases with Occupy Wall St., liberal campaigns, a Leftist sheep farmer running for state senate, and the Fight for $15. Finally I found my home volunteering on electoral campaigns in a way that actually built long term power (I’m a huge fan of our National Electoral Strategy) with NYC DSA, in between my day job of repeatedly ramming against a brick wall with NYC’s homeless services programs. Now I’m living the dream of helping grow strong chapters and strong electoral programs full time. I spend my free time listening to podcasts on history (it’s strangely comforting to know how much of a disorganized, incompetent mess the past was, it means that Trump is nothing we haven’t beaten before) and trying to hang out by all 472 subway stops in my home city before the system crumbles into dust, though you can still count on me to show up for a canvass (#Caban2019!!!).

THREE: WE’RE HIRING AN ORGANIZING DIRECTOR

We’re in the midst of interviews for a new Organizing Director position and still accepting applications.

FOUR: CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER

Please join me in celebrating these new chapters and organizing committees!

New Chapters

  • Billings, MT
  • Greater Lansing, MI
  • Helena, MT
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Northwest OH
  • Santa Barbara, CA

New Organizing Committees

  • Chico, CA
  • Kern County, CA
  • Lehigh Valley, PA
  • Mid-Missouri, MO

FIVE: THE STRIKE WAVE CONTINUES

Denver and Oakland teachers have ended their strikes with big wins! Now, the strike wave continues. UE 506 (United Electrical) members in Erie, PA just took part in the largest manufacturing strike we’ve seen in years. After seven days, they reached a 90 day deal to continue negotiations while returning to work. Please keep your eyes peeled for future announcements on supporting these workers. And Stop and Shop UFCW members (United Food and Commercial Workers) in the Northeast have taken a strike vote and are ready to walk out

SIX: ELECTORAL TO BUILD OUR POWER

The National Electoral Committee (NEC) would like to congratulate Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Byron Sigcho Lopez, and Rossana Rodriguez on winning or advancing to the runoff in their Chicago city council races, along with Ugo Okere, who won over 1,800 votes on a campaign of rent control in a district of mostly homeowners in his Chicago ward, and Megan Green, who came within 1,500 votes of winning her St. Louis President of Board of Aldermen race despite being outspent 6:1 by her rivals. We encourage chapters to host solidarity phone banks for the Chicago candidates before their April 2nd runoffs. Email Eric at eric@dsausa.org to get started.

The NEC is hosting three calls in the coming weeks:

  • Building Real Power Through Electoral Work — During the Electoral Cycle & Beyond: Sunday, March 10 5pm ET/4PM CT/3PM MT/2PM PT — How does our work during the election cycle for endorsed candidates affect our power with the candidate and beyond once that cycle is over? Natasha Fernandez-Silber from Detroit DSA will share experiences from their chapter and will lead a conversation and q&a on this topic.
  • Chapter Bernie Work: Sunday, March 17, 5pm ET/4PM CT/3PM MT/2PM PT — While we work our way through an endorsement process and debates about what a Bernie endorsement might mean for DSA, many chapters are also discussing what that work might look like. Is your chapter building a plan for Bernie work and mapping things out for a potential endorsement? Is your chapter thinking through the questions of how Bernie work might relate to other chapter campaigns, both electoral and non-electoral? This will be an opportunity to share plans and discuss approaches.
  • Chapter Endorsement Processes Sunday, March 24, 5pm ET/4PM CT/3PM MT/2PM PT — One of the first things you need to do in an electoral campaign is figure out an endorsement process. How can we set up a process that means both the candidate and the chapter come out with clear expectations? How do chapters build processes that involve every member without overburdening them when candidates apply in high numbers? How do we ask tough questions of candidates while inviting them in to build a mass movement for democratic socialism with us? On this call chapters will share how they built their endorsement processes for candidates and ballot measures, and what their biggest questions and challenges about those processes are.

The NEC also released a statement from DSA elected officials supporting teacher power and workers everywhere.

Lastly, the NEC would like to remind chapters that it’s available for training, resources, and electoral compliance support for chapters looking to build up the electoral groups and engage in campaigns for power with candidates or ballot measures.

SEVEN: MEDICARE FOR ALL MOVES FORWARD

The Medicare for All Committee is excited to announce that we have a Medicare for All Bill! Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 with more than 100 co-sponsors at the end of February. This is a huge win in the battle to decommodify healthcare, and we’ve got a real, fighting chance to achieve Medicare for All! Alongside Senator Sanders’ Senate bill, it is the only legislation to meet DSA’s five principles for a truly democratic socialist single-payer system.

A big thank you to the hundreds of DSA chapters and thousands of members and volunteers who spent their weekends canvassing, hosting events, and spreading the world about the importance of Medicare for All. We’re going to continue working with our coalition partners and DSA chapters across the country to get this bill to a floor vote. In the meantime, continue calling and emailing your representatives to let them know how important this is to you. We have to keep the pressure up! You can stay connected to DSA’s Medicare for All campaign by signing up for the campaign’s monthly newsletter here.

DSAers at Knoxville pre-convention conference

EIGHT: PRECONVENTION CONFERENCES STATUS REPORT

Our pre-convention conferences are bringing DSAers together for trainings on grassroots fundraising, strategic campaign planning, political education how-tos, harassment and grievance intake and investigation, Robert’s Rules of Order, how to write resolutions, and other convention matters. We’ve already held pre-convention conferences in Los Angeles, CA, Knoxville, TN, and Albany, NY. And more are to come!

Nothing gives me more hope than being in a room with socialists from hundreds of miles apart strategizing together and debating the pressing questions facing DSA — and keeping it comradely the whole time. You can find out more about our pre-convention conferences here.

NINE: CONVENTION UPDATE

The 2019 DSA National Convention is August 2-4 in Atlanta, GA. Please see the preconvention rules passed at the January 2019 National Political Committee meeting here. We’ll go over the rules on a zoom call on Tuesday, March 12 at 9:30PM ET / 8:30PM CT / 7:30PM MT / 6:30PM PT. You can RSVP here.

Want to help plan the convention? Apply for a sub-committee preparing for the upcoming 2019 National Convention. Please see descriptions of the sub-committees here and apply here. The Convention Planning Committee is accepting applications until the deadline of Sunday, March 10 at 11:59 pm Pacific.

At-Large members can fill out a Delegate Nomination Form between March 1st and April 30th. More information here.

Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose changes to the DSA National Constitution and/or Bylaws by using this form between March 2nd and May 2nd. To be eligible for the Convention Program, proposed changes must be accompanied by 50 names of DSA members in good standing who support the change. Although members may only author or co-author up to 4 changes, individuals may sign their names to an unlimited number of Constitutional or Bylaws changes. The National Resolutions and Amendments Committee will work with authors of Constitutional and Bylaws Changes to ensure that their submissions are in order and to connect authors of similar changes who may wish to synthesize their submissions.

For more convention updates, check out our convention webpage, where you can also opt in to more frequent update emails.

TEN: THE LIFE OF THE MIND — AND FEET

The quarterly Democratic Left printing is running a bit late this month. But to pass the time, check out this amazing treasure trove, the DL Archive online! Please join me in celebrating Maxine Phillips, Peg Strobel, Casey Westerman and Willie Thompson for making this long held dream happen.

The Socialist Forum’s editorial committee have also just gone live with their Winter 2019 issue, which is devoted to the question of climate change and socialist politics.

Both Democratic Left and Socialist Forum dig into the climate change crisis, so if you’re ready to do something about it, check out the EcoSocialists Working Group nationally and get involved.

ELEVEN: WE CONTINUE TO STAND WITH CONGRESSWOMAN OMAR

DSA supported Rep. Ilhan Omar when she was attacked in February. Her speaking truth about murderous U.S. foreign policy is helping crack open the beltway establishment, as demonstrated this week when moderate Democrats backed down from formally rebuking her. There is hope for justice in Palestine — and everywhere!

TWELVE: SOCIALIST FEMINISM FOR THE WIN

The Socialist Feminist Working Group is gearing up for the April Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon. Regular updates are available here.

March is Women’s History month and we’re celebrating with beautiful socialist feminism stickers! Everyone who joins, renews or donates between March 17-31 will receive a sticker from the national office. Chapter leaders can use this as part of your dues drives campaigns as an added fun incentive for your members to renew or supporters to join.

THIRTEEN: JOIN THE TECH TEAM

Coders Needed: The National Tech Committee is looking for volunteers to help us build out a redesigned national website using WordPress, as well as people with Python, Node, and front-end know-how to help us build tools for DSA staff and chapters. Fill in our form if you want to get involved!

FOURTEEN: 2018 YEAR END FINANCIAL PRESENTATION

On Thursday, March 14 at 8PM ET/ 7PM CT / 6PM MT/ 5PM PT / 4PM AKST / 3PM HST, Secretary Treasurer Theresa Alt, in partnership with Heidi Chua and Alison Baldree from staff, will review our activities across chapters and the nation and our 2018 finances. There will be an opportunity to ask questions post-presentation. The presentation will be recorded and sent to membership after the call. Click here to register for the call.

FIFTEEN: NATIONAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE

Between the preconvention conferences and moving, the January National Political Committee minutes are late. We will post them online soon. The NPC’s next meeting will be in NYC April 13-14.

SIXTEEN: WE’RE MOVING THE NATIONAL OFFICE

But just one floor up to suite 808! We’re doubling our space as our membership and organizing continue to grow.

That’s all, folks!

Maria Svart
DSA National Director