Report: National Convention 2019

2019 DSA National Convention Report

Summary

At the 2019 National DSA Convention votes taken by the delegates in attendance largely aligned with the priority decisions made at the 2019 Philadelphia DSA Local Convention. Philly DSA’s local priority campaigns are Electing Bernie Sanders & Socialist Legislators, Winning Medicare for All, Labor Organizing, and A Green New Deal for Philly. The National Convention voted to support each of these, demonstrating the local chapter is in step with the organization as a whole and we can look forward to working with other chapters on shared goals to fight against structural inequality and oppression based on gender, race, and class. A resolution establishing a national political education strategy modeled off of Philly DSA’s Night School was also adopted. This shared sense of purpose across the national organization is promising: by working together on strategic campaigns, locals can strengthen one another and ensure that DSA continues to grow over the next two years until the next convention, strengthening democratic socialist politics across the country and winning power for the working class.

Structure

  • The 2019 National DSA Convention was held from August 1-4, 2019, at the Peachtree Plaza Westin Hotel Conference Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  
  • The National Convention is the highest decision-making body of the organization and is held at least biennially. The National Convention is responsible for electing 16 leaders to the National Political Committee (NPC), and the National Convention is the only venue for making amendments to DSAs Constitution and Bylaws.
  • Philadelphia DSA was apportioned 25 delegates to the convention, who were elected at our June 2019 Local Convention. In total over 1000 delegates were seated at the Convention.
  • Convention Planning Committees established by the NPC collected 33 nominations for NPC candidates, 85 resolutions, and 33 constitutional and bylaws amendments. 

Results

    • Committee Reports: Reports of the priority committees established at the 2017 convention were read and received, all including recommendations to continue working on the campaigns they had developed over the last two years.
      • Key Recommendations from the Medicare for All Committee Report
            • Strategic priorities: campaign for Bernie Sanders, elect M4A-supporting legislators, pass local resolutions supporting M4A, conduct congressional pressure campaigns to win sponsors for HR1384 and SB1129, protest and demonstrate at insurance and pharma headquarters. 
            • Hiring a staffer to coordinate coalition work and support local chapter campaigns. 
            • The committee will continue to develop political education material and promotional content for the campaign.
      • Key Recommendations from the National Electoral Committee Report
            • Continue to recruit new members to DSA by running electoral campaigns and generating media attention.
            • Hold elected officials to account in order to deliver on democratic socialist priorities.
            • Develop the NEC to better communicate with local chapters and provide better support for electoral campaigns. 
      • Key Recommendations from the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission Report
            • Reconsider geographic distribution quota on DSLC SC membership.
            • Draft a national DSLC strategy document to guide organizing work in local labor branches.
            • Greater support from staff for administrative work of the commission in order to ensure SC members are able to work on organizing with labor activists in locals across the country.
      • Key Recommendations from the National Political Committee Report
            • The outgoing NPC did not provide a copy of the report to the membership.
      •  
    • Resolutions: Resolutions were debated and passed to establish additional campaigns at the national level in the next two years, and to refine the work of the existing national committees.
      • Electing Socialists: DSA will work to elect democratic socialists to office who are running on platforms aligned with the goals of the national organization. Two resolutions (R31, R82) prioritizing electoral work passed calling on DSA chapters and the national organization to run open socialists for office. In continuity with the importance of endorsing democratic socialists, a resolution (R15) passed affirming that in the event of a Sanders loss in the 2020 Democratic Primary, no other presidential candidate will be considered for DSAs endorsement.
      • DSLC National Labor Strategy: The DSLC will provide members with resources to pursue the Rank & File Strategy, develop strategies to establish labor branches in DSA locals across the country, and provide resources and training on organizing workplaces (R3, R32, R67). These resolutions will help to hone our orientation towards organized labor, strengthening our relationships with local and national unions.
      • Political Education: DSA will replicate the Philly DSA Night School model of political education in local chapters across the country in order to promote robust socialist political education (R33). National staff will continue to lead organizing trainings for members and chapter leaders (R84).
      • Green New Deal Campaign: DSA will campaign to build support for and win a Green New Deal (R34). Consent agenda resolutions asked that the national Green New Deal priority voice support for the nationalization of energy companies (R41), the Great Lakes Authority (R42), and ecosocialism (R56).
      • Campaigns for Universal Programs: The convention passed resolutions calling on chapters to organize for universal programs including a right to housing for all (R40, R64), and securing universal childcare as a right (R25).
      • Legal Reform Campaigns: DSA will campaign to win tenants’ rights (R57), end cash bail (R28), promote criminal justice reform (R54), decriminalize sex work (R53), ensure a legal right to abortion (R38), the abolition of ICE and full rights for immigrants and refugees (R5).
      • International Work: DSA’s existing International Committee was recommitted to (R4). Multiple resolutions passed that detail the scope of this committee’s work including: solidarity with Cuba (R62), anti-imperialism (R50) calling for open borders (R73), and calling on Sanders to strengthen his foreign policy platform (R39). DSA will also establish a working group to campaign for BDS (R35).
      • Presidential Platform Recommendations: Resolutions were passed calling on presidential candidates to support reparations (R59), and to support housing justice policies (R74).
      • Growing the National Organization: A resolution (R55) was passed to establish a national dues drive in order to promote the financial stability of the organization and encourage members to pay dues that will be shared with locals. DSA will establish a National Growth and Development committee with the goal of growing to 100 thousand members by 2021 (R2).
      • National Organizational Resources: The National Harassment and Grievance Officer will maintain a list of members who have been expelled by locals (R30). The National website will be translated into Spanish (R6). A committee will be established to make recommendations to locals on security practices (R80). A national working group will be established to develop anti-fascist organizing resources for local chapters (R9).
  •  
    • Constitutional Amendments and Bylaws Changes: One constitutional amendment (CB29) passed to close a loophole where amendments could be added to the convention agenda if they are proposed by the NPC rather than the standard process and timeframe for amendments. A styles committee will edit the constitution as amended, and per a request from the floor the styles committee will remove gendered language. Two resolutions on the implementation of potential regional structures were referred to the incoming NPC for debate (R16, R31) Other resolutions that would have more drastically changed the scope, structure, and funding of the national organization failed. 
  •  
    • Convention Agenda Development: Prior to the convention, two straw polls were used to develop a consent agenda and to prioritize resolutions and constitutional amendments for debate in order to make the best use of the limited debate time at the convention. A majority of delegates participated in these polls.
  • 2019-2021 NPC: The winning candidates and new NPC are Hannah Allison, Jennifer Bolen, Marianela D’Aprile, Sean Estelle, Blanca Estevez, Austin Gonzalez, Kristian Hernandez, Maikiko James, Jen McKinney, Natalie Midiri, Erika Paschold, Dave Pinkham, Sauce, Megan Svoboda, Tawny Tidwell, and Abdullah Younus.

 

Appendix

Full text of submitted resolutions

Full text of submitted constitutional amendments and bylaws changes

Candidate questionnaire responses

Consent agenda

Report to the membership from the Medicare for All Committee

Report to the membership from the National Electoral Committee

Report to the membership from the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission

Report to the membership from the National Political Committee (requested)

Full convention report

Join Philly DSA

Isn't it time to do something? Get involved with the Local.