October 9, 2020

Recruitment drive, DC / MD elections updates, and preparing for a DC council hearing on police reform legislation.

October 9, 2020 Weekly Update


  • DSA Recruitment drive
  • DC Electoral Campaign Update
  • National DSA endorsement against Ballot Question B in Montgomery County
  • The People Speak: DC Council Hearing on Police Bills

At our 2019 National Convention delegates from chapters across the country resolved to reach the goal of 100,000 members by the end of 2020. Hitting this goal would make us the largest socialist organization in the United States in generations and would signal incredible potential for the democratic socialist movement and the fight for social and economic justice.

But it is also a big job. Hitting this goal would mean surpassing some of DSA largest membership bumps in our history such as the election of Trump in 2016 and of AOC in 2018. How will DSA shatter these historic obstacles? Well we have a secret weapon: you!

To meet these goals we are asking every member to sign the DSA 100K Pledge to ask 3 people you know to join DSA between now and November 7th. You can take the pledge at 100k.dsausa.org. Once you do, you will receive a unique referral link that you can send to your 3 people and if they join through that link, they will get credited to you and the chapter as being part of the drive. DSA is also sending the first 500 members to recruit 3 people a snazzy DSA hat 🧢. 

Once you fill out the pledge, we are also asking members to sign up for the Call a Comrade program, to commit to a shift calling up Metro DC members to join us in this historic project. Once you sign up an organizer will be in touch with you about taking a shift making calls. 

With the election in just a few weeks, a recession on the horizon, a mass movement for Black lives in the streets, and the looming threat of climate change, we can’t afford to sit back–we have to take action and build a fighting movement for real change. 

1. Take the DSA 100K Pledge!
2. Post your referral link on social media with the hashtag #DSA100K!
3. Send your link to 3 people you know and ask them to join DSA!
4. Sign up for the Call a Comrade program!

DC Electoral Campaigns – Updates and Actions

On Nov 3 we will have the chance to elect 3 amazing democratic socialists in DC: Janeese Lewis George for Ward 4 DC Councilmember, Ed Lazere for for At-Large DC Councilmember and Mysiki Valentine for At-Large DC State Board Of Education (SBOE). Having 2 DSA members on the council and a 2nd DSA member on the SBOE would dramatically reorient political power in DC away from corporate interests and into the hands of working people. But this doesn’t happen without your help! If you want to get involved, here are three ways you can help out the campaigns this weekend:

  • This Saturday, join DSA members for a lit drop in Mt Pleasant for Mysiki Valentine! Signup is here. This race is wide open and not on everyone’s radars, so every bit of voter contact can make a huge difference.


  • Sign up to phone bank for Ed Lazere! 41 DSA members have made well over 13,000 calls (!!) and we need your help to ensure we reach our goal of 20,000 calls before election day! If you’re new to phone-banking, you can sign up for a training session here. If you’re already trained, sign up for a shift here (or feel free to plug in some calls when you have some offtime!).


  • Sign up to phone bank for Mysiki Valentine! Every Sunday and Monday until election day, Mysiki’s team will be phone-banking. If you’re new, the first 10 minutes of each session are dedicated to showing you how to use the system.

  • This Monday, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, join Ed Lazere’s campaign team for a community clean-up day in Rock Creek Park! We’ll meet in the open air with proper social distancing and then fan out into the local area to remove garbage from this historic indigenous location.

And finally, here are some brief updates on the state of the DC race, in case you want to get plugged in:

National Endorsement Alert! Montgomery County Ballot Question B is Bad for Communities!

DSA’s National Political Committee will endorse our MoCo branch’s campaign urging voters to reject ballot question B — so watch out for an official announcement from DSA National! Ballot question B is a right wing tax scam that would force cuts to county services and union jobs, while providing tax cuts to our county’s wealthiest. Here’s how you can help our campaign:

  • Join a phonebank! We’re phone banking on Wednesdays at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 3:30pm through the election. We’ve over 9,000 calls so far and we’ve found that voters are happy to vote against question B after we talk to them. RSVP for Wednesdays here and Saturdays here.
  • Tell your friends, family and neighbors to vote against ballot question B. You can send them to MoCoAgainstB.org for more information.
  • Donate to the Metro DC Solidarity PAC to fund digital ad buys and more.

Defund MPD Update: Council hearings, face masks and buttons

On Thursday, October 15, 2020, Councilmember Charles Allen, Chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, will convene a public hearing to consider two police reform bills. The hearing will be conducted virtually via Zoom from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The Council wants to pass these bills and tell themselves that “continuing education” and “Police Complaint Boards” will solve police violence. These bills are not enough! And DSA members, alongside BLM DC and others in the Defund MPD Coalition, will be testifying to let them know. Be sure to tune-in on October 15th to hear testimony.

Otherwise, our Defund MPD Working Group has been hard at work designing union-printed face masks and buttons to spread the word about defunding the MPD! Check out this tweet to see the buttons and the process for making them!  If you want to get your hands on masks and buttons, there are two ways.  

  1. First, you can fill out this pre-order form. Face masks are donate-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $15/mask, and they’ll come with two assorted buttons. Pre-orders close on October 20. Then, we’ll order from the union face mask company, send you donation instructions, and mail masks and buttons out to you.
  2. If you just want buttons, then come out to Defund MPD actions! We’ve set up an action outreach group helping connect groups of DSA members going out on the streets. Fill out this form to join the group. We’ll do our best to have buttons at each of the actions we turn out for.

As always, if you want to get involved with our Defund MPD Working Group, fill out this form to sign up.



Socialist Night School Core Curriculum Returns

Two of the foundational presentations of our Socialist Night School return as the new semester begins. What is Socialism? (Oct. 15) and What is Marxism? (Oct  26) are both on tap this month. If you want to approach folks in your network about joining DSA, notifying them about these events is a great icebreaker.


And speaking of socialism…

…here’s the trailer for a film, “The Big Scary ‘S’ Word,” premiering TODAY at the Mill Valley Film Festival. It includes detailed coverage of Lee Carter’s successful, openly socialist campaign for his Virginia House of Delegates seat. The Mill Valley festival program says: “This thorough, thoughtful, and engaging film tracks the history of socialism in America and dispels many of the myths that are so often promulgated in public discourse.” The filmmakers’ blurb adds “This film explores where American socialism has been, why and how it was suppressed, and imagines what a renewed American socialism might look like, directly from today’s leading left thinkers and socialists.”

Our local comrade Jules Bernstein has been assisting its director, Yael Bridge, in development of the 85-minute film and notes the Mill Valley festival showing can be accessed from today (Oct. 9) through Oct. 18 for a $10 fee at this link (there’s a limit of 500 on that showing and the hope is to achieve a sellout, to give the film legs for adoption by streaming services such as Netflix). AFI showings later this year will be similarly priced.


Reclaim Rent Control Legislative Training

A few weeks ago, the Reclaim Rent Control campaign led an effort to drive mass testimony in front of the DC Council in order to push for the full Reclaim Rent Control platform – which ultimately succeeded! The bill has a full hearing November 5th, and the Reclaim Rent Control campaign is making sure folks know what is entailed in this legislation by hosting a legislative info session on October 21 at 5 pm. During this training, the campaign will provide a detailed training on the various components of the Omnibus bill.


Deliberative Schedule for MDC DSA local chapter bylaws reform. 

Members – check the Slack channel #bylaws-reform for details on how to participate..

  • 10/9 (Friday) – Deadline for written testimony. First drafts of bylaws sections due from drafters.
  • 10/10 (Saturday) – Discussion of final testimonies and bylaws draft sections.
  • 10/11 – 10/14 – Revisions and internal discussion over the draft, preparation of preliminary public report.
  • 10/15 (Thursday) – Preliminary bylaws report due to publications.
Three more forums following that report over the course of the week. Current dates are provisional and subject to change due to unexpected circumstances:
  • 10/17 (Saturday, daytime)
  • 10/20 (Tuesday, evening [possibly a special Steering Committee meeting, pending request being made at the next steering])
  • 10/22 (Thursday, late afternoon)

After the last Commission forum, we will make technical and minor changes to deal with any unintentional errors or minor, largely uncontroversial tweaks to the bylaws language in the preliminary report. Major substantial changes to our draft should however be submitted as amendments and debated at Convention. As is standard MDC DSA practice, there will be a convention forum or forums held at a time set by the convention planning committee. The first official reading of our bylaws revision will take place at this time, and the second read will take place at a Steering Committee meeting. Local Convention (12/13): The report and any amendments will be debated and a final up/down vote will be taken. 
— Kurtis H.


MDC DSA Socialist Feminist Caucus

The next Soc-Fem caucus meeting will be Tuesday Oct 13. We will be planning our demonstration on October 17 along with the Women’s March. Our goal is to focus on the central issues that have guided conversations this year: immigration and the sterilization of migrant women, protecting our climate, and reproductive rights. For this meeting, we will open our call to all feminists, regardless of gender expression.

Also, please congratulate our very own Marie Lewis, who was elected to the National DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group steering committee. Our members are invited to DM Marie on Slack with questions or issues the national working group should address.


NoVA Tenant Organizing

The NoVA Tenant Organizing working group held a fantastic canvass in Alexandria last weekend, talking to tenants about organizing with their neighbors to make collective demands of their landlords around sanitation, rent hikes, water bills, and overzealous towing. We were joined by tenants of the building and 12 DSA canvassers–our largest canvass yet. If you are interested in fighting for tenant rights and organizing buildings across Northern Virginia, join our weekly planning call this Sunday, October 11th at 1 pm. Finally, if you are not able to canvas but would like to get involved, the working group needs volunteers to help pull court records in Fairfax County and Loudon. Find us on slack at #nova-tenant-organizing or fill out this interest form to get involved. And don’t forget to check out our new website


Apply for the Progressive Talent Pipeline

As some of you know, Demand Progress and CEPR started the Progressive Talent Pipeline program in 2018 to try to help get good progressives into entry- and mid-level jobs on the Hill. More than 40 people who went through it went on to find such jobs, and some of them are already among the best organizers on the Hill. Info is here. 

Our comrade David Duhalde reports: “We just opened up the applications for this cycle. Also hoping to expand it to encompass certain exec branch jobs depending on how November goes.”


We are testing out some new approaches to our newsletter. Got thoughts on the layout? Members can join the #publications channel on slack to provide their input

Saturday, October 10

2:00 to 4:00 PM | NoVA Migrant Justice Research Meeting
Research sessions will consist of first 30 minutes of training, followed by 90 minutes of divided up research.

Saturday, October 10

2:00 to 4:00 PM | NoVA Migrant Justice Research Meeting
Research sessions will consist of first 30 minutes of training, followed by 90 minutes of divided up research.

Sunday, October 11

2:00 to 4:30 PM | MoCo DSA October Branch Meeting 

Monday, October 12

6:00 to 8:00 PM | Queer Caucus Happy Hour 
Event is open to the public, DSA membership is not required. During this crisis, social connection is vital for our mental and emotional health. Please drop in, relax, chat, and (virtually) connect. Note: There will be a bit of caucus work at the beginning of this meeting for leadership elections.

7:00 to 9:00 PM | DC Council Elections WG meeting  

Tuesday, October 13

7:00 to 9:00 PM | Socialist Feminist Caucus (SocFem) Meeting
Currently, all SocFem gatherings and discussions are welcoming only those who identify as womxn, non-binary people, or those who identify as a marginalized gender. We ask that men do not participate at this time.

7:00 to 8:30 PM | Biweekly MDC DSA Steering Committee meeting   

 Wednesday, October 14

6:30 to 8:00 PM | October Labor Working Group

7:00 to 9:00 PM | Prince George’s County Branch (prov.) Biweekly Meeting

 Thursday, October 15

6:30 to 8:30 PM | What is Socialism? | Socialist Night School 

Sunday, October 18

2:00 to 4:30 PM | MoCo DSA General Branch Meeting

3:00 to 5:00 PM | MDC DSA October General Body Meeting  

6:00 to 7:30 PM | Defund MPD Working Group – Monthly Meeting

 Thursday, October 22

7:00 to 8:30 PM | NOVA Branch DSA Organizing Meeting

 Sunday, October 25

2:00 to 4:00 PM | Socialist Feminist Reading Group
Currently, all SocFem gatherings and discussions are welcoming only those who identify as womxn, non-binary people, or those of marginalized genders. We ask that men do not participate at this time.

3:00 to 4:00 PM | New Member Orientation

 Monday, October 26

6:30 to 8:30 PM | What Is Marxism? (Socialist Night School)

 Tuesday, October 27

7:00 to 8:30 PM  | MDC DSA Steering Committee biweekly meeting
Access on MDC DSA Slack, #steering

Wednesday, October 28

 7:00 to 9:00 PM | Prince George’s County Branch (prov.) biweekly meeting

Weekly or frequently recurring events:

Phone bank with training for endorsed DC Council candidate Ed Lazere:
Saturdays & Sundays — 11 AM to noon
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — 6 PM to 7 PM

NoVA Tenant Organizing Planning Meeting:
Sundays — 1 PM
Saturdays — Canvasses scheduled as needed

Medicare 4 ALL (#M4A) Workgroup:
Sundays — 5 to 6:30 PM

Phonebank: Vote AGAINST MoCo ballot Question B:
Wednesdays — 6:30 to 8 PM
Saturdays — 3:30 to 5:30 PM


Check out the newest edition National DSA’s seasonable publication, Democratic Left!

Friday, October 9

8:00 to 9:30 PM EST | The DSLC Presents: The Southern Key
DSA’s Democratic Socialist Labor Commission is excited to host Michael Goldfield as he presents on his book The Southern Key: Class, Race, and Radicalism in the 1930s and 1940s and discusses labor strategy in the American South. Details and access at link.

Saturday, October 10

1:00 to 2:00 PM EST | Building Student, Teacher, and Caregiver Solidarity
Join us for a call on Building Solidarity between Students, Teachers, and Caregivers around safe schools demands with teacher strike leader Arlene Inouye from United Teachers of Los Angeles and high school student leaders who organize with PODER, the social justice caucus within the San Antonio Alliance.

4:00 to 5:00 PM EST |Black Health + Black Liberation: Stories from the Front
Hear from the most marginalized communities about their experiences with how structural racism in the private U.S. healthcare system has impacted their own personal health. Sponsors, details and access at link

Monday, October 12 

8:00 to 9:00 EST | Immigrants’ Struggles in the Time of Covid
This People’s Indigenous Day, join the Immigrants’ Rights Working Group (IRWG) for a webinar: Immigrants’ Struggles in the Time of Covid! We will be joined by comrades on the front lines of the immigrants’ rights movement and find out ways to get involved!

Wednesday, October 14

9:00 to 10:00 EST | Election 2020: What Should Socialists Be Doing?
The presidential election, amidst a pandemic and deep economic crisis, has opened a number of questions for leftists. On the one hand, we are seeing high levels of organizing and uprising, both in the workplace and outside of it. On the other hand, state repression has met this increased political activity and threatens to worsen…


Publications Schedule: MDC DSA’s Weekly Updates will be published Fridays, October 16 and 23, and the November issue of the Washington Socialist will be published Friday, October 30 with an article deadline Saturday, October 24. Send contributions to thesocialist@mdcdsa.org if you have words of wisdom in advance of US history’s longest Election Day ever. 

Are you an MDC DSA campaign activist and want to keep our ~3,000 local members as well as ~3,000 other local left activists up to date on your campaign actions and events? Contribute to the aptly named MDC DSA Weekly Update, which reaches those 6,000 folks every week. But how? An accessible doc created by Pubs WG stays open every Monday through Thursday so you can make your contribution when it’s convenient for you (spoiler alert: we might edit your deathless prose). But you can only contribute if you are “invited to edit.” Join the activists who get that (sometimes annoying) invite every week; request access at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org .

“But I already DID the Member Survey…”
We are once again asking you to do the Member Survey. It’s ok if you already did it. We’ve added new questions! We just love getting to know you. If you haven’t yet done the survey, please do so now! We are sending invitations and alerts to members based on those responses and you don’t want to miss out! Non-members are also invited. Complete it here! 

Are you an MDC DSA member who wonders how to get on our chapter Slack? Just email info@mdcdsa.org and identify yourself as a member. Put “request for #Slack” in the subject line. Use the email address by which national DSA knows you. If you are a new member, forward the email that national DSA sent you acknowledging your status. Our Slack platform, with numerous channels for all our caucuses, branches, campaigns and working groups, is a great place to get connected with the kind of socialist work YOU want to do in DSA.


TODAY! Friday, October 9

6:00 to 7:00 PM | Fairfax Smash the Fash Rally
6140 Rolling Road, Springfield VA
Counter protest to a pro-police and fascist “Bolster the Blue” rally — mask mandatory

TOMORROW! Saturday, October 10

10:30 AM | Herring Stop MVP Art Installation
Raflo Park, 345 Harrison St SE, Leesburg VA
Virginia’s Attorney General has yet to take action on Trump’s agenda to steamroll dangerous fracked gas pipelines like MVP through. At our event we will highlight why Herring needs to take more action against MVP! Sponsors Food and Water Watch and others.

Monday, October 19

6:45 PM EST | Reel and Meel
Featuring “The Definition of Insanity,”  the story of a jail diversion program for the mentally ill in Broward County Florida. This change in police, court and social service practice (pre-pandemic) is far more supportive and helpful, rather than punitive. The film and discussion, facilitated by filmmaker Gabe London, will be streamed on Zoom. Registration required.

Wednesday, November 18 

6:00 to 8:00 PM EST | DC Jobs With Justice “I’ll Be There” Awards
Virtually this year we’ll honor some of the outstanding leaders in our work, and remind ourselves of our values as a community in our single largest event of the year.


  • From Portside, several reads on how the right has historically gained stealthy support on the road to fascism often through a commodified everyday culture — and how the shadowy partisans enabled by Trump are coalescing around potentially violent suppression of rights.

  • In The Conversation, an enumeration of what was anecdotally clear — McConnell’s dubious gift to the republic, however soon he departs, is a reversal of the diversity among judges that had been under way.

  • About that election — which election? — oh, yeah, that one… “The road to November will require an intentional and focused strategy to ensure our members, our chapters, and our organization are prepared” for the multiple possibilities that could unfold, requiring everything from political education to street action, as outlined in this strategy document from the DSA National Political Committee — already in some respects outdated but still the subject of current discussion in the organization and presented here in that spirit.

  • For designers and artists — how activist and historian David King developed a unique visual style for the left. Maybe something we can help enable among propagandists in DC…

  • Local immigration rights collective Up, Up with Liberation boosts the local Sanctuary Values Amendment Act in DC, which would prevent DC agencies, including the DC Jail and Metropolitan Police Department, from collaborating with ICE to facilitate the detention and deportation of immigrants.

Ages have come and gone, kingdoms and powers and dynasties have risen and fallen, old glories and ancient wisdoms have been turned into dust, heroes and sages have been forgotten and many a mighty and fearsome god has been hurled into the lightless chasms of oblivion.

But ye, Plebs, Populace, People, Rabble, Mob, Proletariat, live and abide forever.
Arturo Giovannitti