DSA Convention 2019: A Reportback

 Boston DSA Delegates

What it is

Every two years, DSA has its national convention. Delegates come together from across the country to vote on changes to our constitution and bylaws, resolutions of various kinds, and our new National Political Committee (NPC). Chapters received one delegate for every fifty-one members –  1,056 total delegates were sent from DSA’s 400+ local chapters; Boston sent 35 delegates.

How it’s done

Before the convention, members can submit proposed changes to the constitution and bylaws, or resolutions of various kinds. After the submission period, there was a secondary amendment period. Lots were submitted – way more than can be considered in three days! Constitution and bylaw changes (CBs) may only be passed at the convention; if they are not voted on at the convention, they will not be considered. These changes required a 2/3 majority to pass. Resolutions required only a simple majority to pass. Resolutions that the convention didn’t get to are referred to the incoming NPC.

After the submission period, delegates were asked to create a consent agenda, which would contain resolutions with broad support that therefore would be passed without requiring debate at the convention. That agenda can be found here. There was then a second straw poll of the delegates to decide which remaining things should be prioritized on the schedule for the weekend. After reviewing the straw poll, the Resolutions Committee made the final schedule, which can be found here. We didn’t get through all the items on the schedule and we considered a couple things that weren’t originally on it (you’ll see the substantive things that were ultimately voted on below). The Convention itself is run using Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, as well as a set of standing rules passed by the Convention. These standing rules included things like “no amendments from the floor” and the method of voting on the NPC, and are specific clarifications on how the DSA convention will work.

NPC Candidates completed questionnaires and participated in Candidates’ Forums via Zoom preceding the convention. Candidates were elected using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method, following a successful motion from the floor to use this rather than the modified Borda method, as originally outlined in the Convention Rules. An explanation of STV can be found here.

The Boston Delegation

Name Pronouns Affiliations Name Pronouns Affiliations
Becca M she/her Nationwide Ecosocialist WG Liz H she/her
Kathryn A she/her Socialist Majority Evan L he/him LSC
Sarah M she/her Build, LSC Evan S they/them R&R
Mike G he/him Build/LSC Brad B he/him
Rob C he/him RSC Max M he/him
Kit H they/she Forward Emma S she/her RSC
Evan G he/him Ben S he/him RSC
Beth H she/her SMC Trent P he/him
Grant Y he/him none Claire B she/her Revolutionary Socialist Caucus
Steve P he/him Clare F she/her none
Austin G he/him LSC Anna C she/her
Nafis H he/him Bria D she/her
Annie DF she/her Build, RSC Jacob K he/him Forward
Sherri A she/her Eco, loosely Build Jessie L she/they
Leslie R she/her Russ W-I he/him SMC, Forward
Jared A he/him Per D  he/him
Dave G he/him Forward Shekeima D she/her
Louise P  she/her

What happened?

Our New NPC

This is an alphabetical list of our new NPC with their self-identified pronouns, race/ethnicity, and affiliations. Voting was done using OpaVote and STV; individual delegates’ ballots will eventually be available to DSA members, per our National Bylaws.

Name Pronouns Affiliations
Abdullah he/him Socialist Majority
Austin G he/him Build
Blanca she/her Collective Power Network
Dave P he/him Independent/B+R endorsed
Erika P they/them Build
Hannah A she/her Socialist Majority
Jen M she/her Libertarian Socialist
Jen B she/her Red Star (SF)
Kristian she/her Socialist Majority
Maikiko she/her Socialist Majority
Marianela she/her Bread and Roses
Megan S she/her Bread and Roses
Natalie M she/her Bread and Roses
Sauce she/her LSC/Build
Sean E they/them Independent/Nationwide Ecosocialist WG/endorsed by B+R
Tawny T she/her Build/Emerge (NYC)

Our National Priorities

Medicare For All, Elections, and Labor were our three priorities going into the 2019 convention. Coming out of it, the Convention passed the following as National Priorities. These priorities are supported by either a full or half time staffer and often related national organizing bodies, open to membership.

Our New National Working Groups/Committees

Not all of our organizing is done through national priorities! There are many ongoing organizing projects that include comrades from dozens of chapters at once. This work is often (though not always) supported through a national working group or committee. New ones formed from resolutions passed at the convention include:

  • Housing
  • Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
  • Antifascist and Direct Action
  • End Cash Bail 
  • Police and Prison Abolition
  • Decolonization 
  • Disability Working Group (no resolution, self organized via breakouts) 

Resolutions and Constitution/Bylaw Amendments (CBs) that Passed

Many resolutions and CBs were passed by delegates raising their placards, so there’s not an official count of how close the vote was. At times, delegates called for division, which means that delegates used OpaVote links to vote yes or no on a motion. When this happened, we’re able to provide exact voting breakdowns. Otherwise, just the name of the Resolution or CB is listed. Additionally, a number of national Committees gave reports that made resolution -like suggestions for the following two years relating to their work that were voted on.

Res. and CBs that Failed

  • Resolution #48 Candidate Litmus Test
  • Resolution #49 PAC Spending for Nationally Endorsed Candidates
  • Resolution #60 Reassert our Commitment to Training and Leadership Development
  • Resolution #83 Support the Locals and Make DSA Accessible to All
  • CB #2 Require that National Pays Stipends to Chapters; “Pass the Hat” 450-545
  • CB #23 No One is Too Poor for DSA; “Remove dues requirement from membership” 427-543
  • Resolution #37 50/50 Dues Split, Amended to 70/30 (Amendment #12 passed but R37 failed overall)
  • CB #33 Assembly of Locals
  • Referred to NPC – these resolutions and CBs did not fail, but were instead referred to a commission to be created by the NPC to explore various options for regional organizing bodies and make a recommendation for a regional organizing body at the next Convention
    • CB #31 Proposal for Regionally Elected National Organizing Council (Amendment #23 passed so that this body would not be able to amend the constitution)
    • CB #16 Democratic Regional Organizations
    • Resolution #26 Creating Regional Coordinating Committee

Breakout Groups

In addition to the official business of passing resolutions and CBs, the agenda included breakouts and self-organized sessions. The list of potential breakout groups can be found here. This was generally viewed as a productive time to do national organizing around specific topics. Members made connections that helped lead to the passage of the housing resolutions, the DSA Educators group had an opportunity to meet in person, and a variety of other chapters doing similar work exchanged organizing strategy tactics. 

  • DSA members who work in education (teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, school counselors, etc) gathered to talk about how to organize in public education, the campaigns to get our unions to have democratic processes for presidential endorsements and to endorse Bernie, and other topics! Max M, Kathryn A, and Russ W-I attended.
  • Energy democracy. Nafis H presented on behalf of Boston. Becca M, Sherri A attended.
  • Disability Working Group has reformed (potentially no longer as a working group).

General Contributions to the Convention

Boston did not generally dominate the microphones this past weekend, but we did make a few public contributions in Atlanta!

  • Bria spoke passionately in favor of the resolution she co-authored on the need for Childcare across our organization.
  • Sherri A asked a super helpful question about voting methods, and off the floor, sold lots of buttons for Eco and Boston (all donations went to Boston).
  • Beth chaired heroically.
  • Evan G gained fame (and rumored fan art) as “Comrade Who Calls the Question”.
  • Becca M co-authored the GND resolution, helped run the Ecosocialism 101 Breakout and self-organized nationwide ecosocialist working group time. 
  • Nafis H organized and facilitated a session on active energy democracy campaigns across chapters.
  • Leslie R organized a breakout with the Poor Peoples’ Caucus 
  • Ben S, Mike G, and Sarah M participated in a housing breakout

 

 

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