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December 17, 2021
Metro DC DSA elections end Saturday (tomorrow!)
Metro DC DSA 2021 Local Convention Report
Build Back Better bill shelved — Biden backtracks on campaign promises
Metro DC DSA elections end Saturday (tomorrow!) — voting for electoral endorsements, internal leadership, and priority campaigns
MDC DSA members: Deadline to submit your OpaVote ballot is Saturday, December 18 — no later than 11:59pm.
If you are a member in good standing of MDC DSA, including its three branches in Northern Virginia, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, you should have received an email with the sender “OpaVote Voting Link” and the subject line “2021 Convention of the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America” around 6pm Tuesday evening. If you did not receive the email and believe you should have, contact email@example.com immediately!
Votes to be cast include the at-large Steering Committee for 2022 and priority campaigns for the year. Votes on resolutions and bylaws were conducted live during this past weekend’s chapter convention. Results will be announced next week.
Metro DC DSA 2021 Local Convention Report
An MDC DSA all-virtual annual convention last weekend (Dec. 11 and 12) was sure-footedly managed by convention chair Kareem E and comrades from the Administrative Committee. Over 100 members showed up to debate the future of the local and make their voices heard.
With few exceptions, Bylaws Amendments and Resolutions passed by unanimous consent on a consent agenda. Full texts of those can be found on the Convention Bulletin:
- BA1: Increase the Minimum Requirements for a Priority Campaign passed via unanimous consent
- BA2: Transition Metro DC DSA to a More BIPOC-Led Organization failed, 19-57
- BA3: Allowing for Absorption of Certain Recurring Priority Campaign Expenses into the Operating Budget
passed via unanimous consent
- BA4: Amend MDC DSA Bylaws to create a Member Engagement Committee passed via unanimous consent
- BA5: Codifying Universal Voting in Steering Committee Elections; Amendment to BA5: Conforming Edits and Corrections
passed via unanimous consent
- GR1: Endorse Initiative 82 for the 2022 D.C. Primary passed via unanimous consent
- GR3: Building Accountability and Solidarity with the International Working Class passed with an amendment by UC
- GR4: Building Electoral Power and Accountability passed via unanimous consent
Debate ensued on GR3: International Working Class Solidarity and Accountability and Amendment to GR3: Endorsing the BDS National Committee principle of context-sensitivity. The amendment was divided, with question one passing via UC, and question two failing at 41–46. GR3 as amended passed via unanimous consent. To clarify, the question of the amendment was divided into two parts: question one was the first resolved clause. Question two was the remaining portion of the amendment. Original resolution can be found in the convention bulletin.
The convention attendees also heard and discussed (but did not vote) on the matters that are on the OpaVote ballot sent on Tuesday (see above). MDC DSA members are reminded that tomorrow (Saturday, December 18, 11:59pm) is the deadline for completing the OpaVote ballot.
Build Back Better bill shelved — Biden backtracks on campaign promises
This week, it became apparent that Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) legislative package would be stalled indefinitely until next year. The $1.75 trillion package includes many of the (watered down) policies touted by Biden and Democrats on the campaign trail last year.
How did we get here? Earlier this year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (which includes several federally elected DSA members) was holding back on voting for the nearly $1T infrastructure bill in the House in order to demand passage of the broader BBB package first. In holding this leverage, the CPC was trying to prevent corporatists in the Democratic Party from watering down or shelving the BBB package. However, the CPC relented in early November, voting for the bill on the promise that BBB would be passed through the House and Senate. Though BBB did pass the House, the “bipartisan” infrastructure package passed through the Senate and was signed by Biden on November 15, leaving progressives and the Biden administration with little leverage to compel right-wing holdouts in the Senate (Senators Manchin and Sinema) to take up BBB.
Failure to pass BBB doesn’t just put Biden’s modest economic and social agenda in peril — it will also distress much of the American working class. Without action, the Child Tax Credit, which provides substantial financial support to working families, will end this year. Aside from being popular, studies suggest the policy reduced hunger in low-income American households by nearly 9% and prevented nearly two million children from going without enough food to eat.
Biden’s failure coincides with the resumption of student loan repayments in February. The White House confirmed this week they will not be providing the debt relief promised by Biden in 2020 and will not stall the end of student loan forbearance enacted at the onset of the pandemic. Progressives in the House and Senate are mobilizing to try and challenge the debt, but action is unlikely. This means that monthly payments on average of $393 per month will resume for over 42 million federal borrowers.
Politics & Prose Bookstore Employees Move to Unionize
The workers at the three Politics & Prose bookstores in DC have unionized! Not only is P&P management refusing to recognize the union, they have hired notorious union-busting firm Jones Day to represent them. Jones Day is one of the biggest anti-union law firms in the country — and not only do they union bust, they also represented Trump when he tried to overturn the election.
Organizers told DCist the union campaign came “for a variety of reasons, including to negotiate a contract that secures a living wage instead of a minimum one, as well as pay transparency and a standardized pay scale. … Workers also hope to improve scheduling through collective bargaining. The company struggles with chronic understaffing, so employees are often overloaded with work.”
You can directly support the union by following their communications on Twitter and Instagram, showing red when visiting the store on Wednesdays or contacting owners. The union has asked customers to wear red on Wednesdays in a show of physical solidarity with the unionization effort, and/or contact owners Bradley Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Lissa Muscatine (email@example.com) to let them know your support for the unionization effort.
Socialist Feminist Section Reading Group Sign-up for Spring 2022
SocFem will host another reading group early next year. If interested, please sign up to aid our planning. We encourage you to suggest readings and even volunteer to lead the group! All are welcome to participate, including DSA members, non-members and people of all genders and identities! Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask in #socialist-feminist Slack channel.
Passing of bell hooks, Groundbreaking Feminist Scholar
bell hooks, the groundbreaking feminist scholar, has died at age 69 of kidney failure. It’s hard to overstate her influence in feminist theory, specifically the study of the intersections of race, gender and capitalism. At just 24 years old, she wrote Ain’t I a Woman?, which immediately raised her national profile among feminist scholars. Three years later, in 1984, she published Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, which cemented her reputation as a leading feminist thinker. In Margin, she wrote of bringing Black women from the margins of society and progressive movements to their centers. In 2000, she wrote Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, a concise, introductory primer on feminism. She was born in small-town Kentucky and returned to the state in 2004 to teach at Berea College. Appreciation in The Guardian: “for the great many of us whose writing is informed by her work, we will continue … to fearlessly contend with white supremacy while never letting patriarchy off the hook.” More tributes to bell hooks can be found in WaPo, NYT and BBC.
Sign Up for Winter Reading Clubs (Jan and Feb) Now!
You’re invited to join short Winter Reading Clubs hosted by Metro DC DSA beginning in January! These Clubs will cover key concepts in socialism in just a few sessions with short readings, beginning in the second week of January and running through mid-February. These Clubs are for people looking to meet comrades, people starting their political education, people who can’t meet season-long and everyone who wants to learn more in the new year! Groups include Debates in Socialism, Ecosocialism, Socialism 101, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy and Pedagogy of the Oppressed. You don’t have to be a member to join (invite your friends!) — everyone is welcome! The form also includes an option to connect with “Imagined Worlds, Real Futures,” an AAJIL bimonthly reading and writing lab and community learning space. Sign up here!
Stay on the lookout for the season-long Spring reading groups beginning early March, including Capital Vol. 1, Black Marxism, Socfem, Marx at the Movies and so much more.
Attorney General Karl Racine Suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers
DC’s attorney general Karl Racine filed a civil lawsuit against two far-right groups for their participation in coordinating the violent capitol attack on January 6. The groups are accused in the District’s civil suit of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, a law that was passed after the Civil War to try to protect Black citizens from violence and intimidation.
DC locals will recall that January 6th was not the only far-right attack sustained in the past year. Far-right mobs descended into DC on two nights in mid-November and December of 2020. While police balked, local antifascists rallied at Black Lives Matter Plaza both nights to provide cover and safety for downtown workers and anti-fascist protesters. When antifascists stood down on January 6th, far-right agitators marched to the Capitol unchallenged, enabling a coup attempt plotted by interlocutors in the Republican Party.
More from NPR here.
A big-tent organization like MDC DSA is no homogenous pudding but a swarm composed of many campaigns and tendencies putting thought into action. Here are our internal formations and campaigns, articulated and active, with contact info. See something missing or have new information about your activity or campaign? Contact the MDC DSA infosphere at email@example.com, and we’ll work with you to get it freshened.
ICYMI, here is our December 2021 newsletter, the Washington Socialist, with articles lovingly embedded in the usual wrapper of our Friday Update, received as email by ~7,000 leftists in the DMV. About half are MDC DSA members in good standing. If you are not, join here. One more Weekly Update is scheduled for this last month of 2021 — Friday, December 24 — and we’ll publish the first Washington Socialist of 2022 (January) on the very last day of 2021, Friday, December 31. The article deadline for the January 2022 Washington Socialist is this Saturday, December 18. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Between Friday publications of the Update, MDC DSA members can keep up with fast-breaking activities and news — and participate in the activist traffic — on the MDC DSA Slack. If you are a member in good standing and want to get on Slack, contact email@example.com using the email by which national DSA knows you.
DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Friday, December 17
6 – 8pm | We Power Happy Hour
7pm | MoCo DSA December Happy Hour
Sunday, December 19
1 – 2pm | VetSoc Study Group
Monday, December 20
5:30 – 6:30pm | Food | Justice WG Monthly Meeting
6 – 7pm | Medicare 4 All Working Group Biweekly Meeting
Tuesday, December 21
5:30 – 6:45pm | MDC DSA Publications Meeting
7 – 8pm | Defund MPD Comms Meeting
Wednesday, December 22
6:30 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Research Meeting
8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA / New Member Orientation
Thursday, December 23
8 – 9pm | Defund MPD Organizational Outreach Meeting
Monday, December 27
6 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Working Group Meeting
Wednesday, December 29
8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA / New Member Orientation – New Year’s Resolution Special
Monday, January 3
Our Streets, Safe Streets
With pedestrian traffic deaths increasing at alarming levels over the last few years, with the most deaths occurring in Wards 7 and 8, community activists from across the District have been banding together to promote safe streets advocacy and events. On Sunday, December 11, community organizers held a “chalk-in” at the intersection in Ward 5 where five-year-old Allison Hart was struck and killed last September. On Friday, December 9, nine-year-old Peter Dziekan was struck and seriously injured near the same intersection in Ward 5, and nine-year-old Kaidyn Green is currently fighting for his life after being struck by a car in Southeast DC. Community engagements and opportunities for bike and safety advocacy are ongoing. Stay tuned to local leaders like Rachel and Chelsea for future opportunities.
Saturday, December 18 | Baldwin House Co-op Dreaming and Fundraising
Black and Brown tenants in DC’s Ward 1, with support from Ward 1 Mutual Aid, are seeking to buy their building and transform it into a housing co-op and mutual aid hub. They ask that those interested in supporting via advocacy or financial donation please get involved and help them keep yet another DC building from going to a luxury housing developer. RSVP and more info here.
Sunday, December 19 | Community Pop-Up Vaccine Clinic
Many Languages One Voice is hosting a community vaccination event on December 19, 2021 at 2pm. The event will be hosted at The Parks Center, 2437 15th St NW. No reservations required.
GOOD READS / ESSENTIAL TRAFFIC
This piece from our comrade Corey Robin in NYT frames the differences between weak and strong conditions for presidents. It is distorting everyone’s view of Biden’s administration so far, maybe even including ours. Biden lacks the social movement that made Roosevelt, Lincoln and even Lyndon Johnson more surfers of historical forces than battlers of headwinds, Robin says.
And in the same section of the same paper, Tom Edsall’s email poll on the level of danger Trumpism presents for 2024.
Inflation is one of the abovementioned headwinds, but our Virginia comrade Max Sawicki writes in In These Times that “Inflation Fears Shouldn’t Be a Pretext for Class War” or the destruction of programs for social provision.
Bob Kuttner in The American Prospect, recc by our comrade Jules B, writes, of Capitalism vs. Liberty, “All that we liberals cherish—socially, economically, and politically—is being undermined by toxic capitalism. What might lie beyond it, and how might we get there?”
A followup on the unsettling outcome in the Buffalo mayoral race. Big money bought the establishment back into power, but India Walton’s campaign has transformed the political culture in that divided city by Lake Erie.
And just in case you need an excuse for holiday indulgence, Portside has it: “Dark Chocolate’s flavanol may help to protect the heart. Observational studies suggest a link between high cocoa or chocolate intake of 6 grams daily (1-2 small squares) and a reduced risk of heart disease and mortality, possibly in part by reducing blood pressure and inflammation.”
Nordic Social Democracy, Oh My! Our comrade Matt Bruenig unboringly examines the Danish experience (famously boring) historically and currently in a Jacobin piece. “Thanks to social democratic policies, the bottom 60 percent of Danes are better off than the bottom 60 percent of Americans. Even middle-class Danes benefit from a strong welfare state. The only group that doesn’t? The rich.”
Virginia needs at least 200k more low-income housing units, a study by a state agency shows (article is from the Virginia Mercury).
The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of the chains of its restrictions, shatters them, and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon.