Summary


This year’s Local Convention will be held Sunday, October 14 3pm-8pm at Friends Meeting of Washington. Convention Setup: Sunday, October 14, 12pm-3pm. Sign up to volunteer and register to attend. Need to renew your dues? Do it now!

Please note the following deadlines:

Full calendar of events:

9/8 Amendment Writing Office Hours; 9/16 Robert’s Rules Training 1; 9/16 Proposals due; 9/23 Bylaw Forum 1; 9/30 Robert’s Rules Training 2; 9/30 Amendments to Proposals Due; 10/10 Bylaw Forum 2; 10/14 Convention

Rules + Procedures


Please read the Convention Standing Rules.

The Local Convention will adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order for its parliamentary procedure. It is strongly advised that all delegates familiarize themselves with Robert’s Rules prior to the convention; in fact, all DSA members are encouraged to have at least a basic understanding of Robert’s Rules, as well as of parliamentary procedures in general. A comprehensive guide to Robert’s Rules is available at rulesonline.com, and a very abridged overview is available here.

Attend a Robert’s Rules training:

  • Sept. 16, 2-4:30pm at Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library
  • Sept. 30, 2-4:30pm at Northeast Neighborhood Library

Attend a Bylaw Forum:

Convention Packet

Metro DC DSA 2018 Convention

Open in Google Docs

Download as .pdf

Proposals – Bylaw Amendments

[+] Expand All Proposals
A1: Steering Committee Nonfeasance
Sponsors: Margaret McLaughlin
Co-Sponsors: Caleb-Michael Files, Liz G, Max Socol, Justin Jacoby Smith, Danny Turkel, Walker Green, Kim Lehmkuhl, Greg Afinogenov, Francesco R.
Updated:September 3, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A1.1 (Grandfather Clause & 3 Months Review) by Gabriel Rodriguez

A1: As the governing body of the chapter, the Steering Committee casts regular votes to ensure that the chapter is functioning properly and properly reflecting the will of the general body. Members of Steering are elected and expected to contribute a significant amount of time to this managerial and administrative body.

A1.1: Avoiding strange edge cases where a steering member may be in violation due to forces not entirely in their control. It also include a grace period for current steering members to get into the new protocol and not feel they need to oppose it because passage would automatically remove them from office.

(a). Amending section entitled STEERING COMMITTEE AND OFFICERS; REMOVAL

  1. Any Officer or member of the Steering Committee may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Steering Committee. Any Officer or member of the Steering Committee may resign in writing. The Chair may resign without ceding their place on the Steering Committee.
  2. Any elected officer or member of the Steering Committee who misses three consecutive meetings or ten total meetings in a term without an acceptable reason shall be removed from the committee and their position declared vacant. Members of the Steering Committee may also be removed for malfeasance or gross incompetence.
  3. Members may petition for the removal an elected official by collecting signatures of either 100 members or 20% of the general body membership, the greater of the two, and having two-thirds of those present at a general body meeting vote in favor of removal. Members may petition for a snap election of any elected body by having two-thirds of those present at a general body meeting vote in favor of a snap election, to be held at the time and place of the general body’s discretion. Any Officer or member of the Steering Committee may also resign in writing.
  1. Any elected officer…
  2. Members of the Steering committee must maintain at least a 50% voting participation rate online. If unable to maintain a 50% voting participation rate online, the member of the Steering Committee shall be removed for nonfeasance. The participation rate shall be calculated on a rolling basis every three calendar months, from the month of the first term of the Steering Committee. This measure is not retroactive and will begin after the 2018 Local Convention.
  3. Members may petition…
A2: Un-Endorsement & Censure Clause
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Justin Jacoby Smith, Danny Turkel

The current bylaws do not authorize or provide an official mechanism to rescind an endorsement or reprimand an electoral candidate who has already been endorsed locally by the chapter. This language grants the general body that ability.

(a). Amending section entitled ELECTORAL ENDORSEMENTS

The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting. Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.

Section 1: Endorsement

“The General Body shall…”

Section 2: Un-Endorsement

  1. The General Body shall be empowered to rescind the endorsement of an electoral candidate, who has been endorsed locally by MDC DSA, by a two-thirds vote in the affirmative at a general body meeting, with previous notice.
  2. The General Body can only rescind an endorsement of candidate who has been endorsed locally by MDC DSA, not nationally by DSA National.
  3. If a candidate’s endorsement has been rescinded, members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of that candidate.

Section 3: Censure

  1. The General Body shall be empowered to censure an electoral candidate, who has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National, by a majority vote at a general body meeting, without previous notice.
  2. A motion to censure expresses severe disapproval or condemnation of an electoral candidate who commits an action that goes against the shared values, purpose, or mission of DSA, without prohibiting members from campaigning as representatives of MDC DSA or in any of its formations on behalf of that candidate.
A3: Eliminate Postal Voting for Steering Elections
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Justin Jacoby Smith, Danny Turkel, Brian W., Doug T., Francesco R., Nate S., Liz G.

The bylaws currently allow for postal ballots as an option for Steering Committee elections. Given our chapter’s limited financial resources and for efficiency sake, this language eliminates that option and permits only email ballots as a valid option for Steering Committee elections.

In addition, this new text requires the Steering Committee to appoint an interim body (such as a temporary elections working group) to prepare for this election, instead of suggesting the Steering Committee do so under the current language.

(a). Amending section entitled STEERING COMMITTEE AND OFFICERS


Members of MDC DSA, at an annual membership meeting, shall elect members of the Steering Committee by secret ballot. Members of MDC DSA, by an email (or postal) ballot, shall elect members of the Steering Committee by secret ballot. The current steering committee should select an interim body to prepare a proposal as to how this might be implemented by March 1.


Section 1: Election Method


Members of MDC DSA, at an annual membership meeting, shall elect members of the Steering Committee by secret ballot conducted through email.

Section 2: Election Preparation

The current Steering Committee should select shall appoint an interim body to prepare a proposal as to how this might be implemented by March 1 to research and propose proper implementation of the Steering Committee election.

A4: Affirming No Steering Co-Chairs

This proposal has been rescinded by its sponsor and will not be proposed at the Convention.

A5: 5% Quorum Requirement for General Body Meetings
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors:

There are currently over 1,600 registered chapter members. A reasonably-sized quorum is necessary to protect the interests of members who are unable to vote by ensuring that a small, disproportionate number of members cannot make decisions on behalf of the membership.

This language will supersede the current GBM standing rules which require 75 members to obtain quorum.

(a). Amending section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS


Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.


Section 1:


“Public meetings…”

Section 2: Quorum
  1. A quorum of 5% of the local membership is required for a general body meeting to transact business.
  2. If applicable, absentee ballots or votes cast electronically shall count towards attaining quorum of the business to which it pertains to.
A5.1: 10% Quorum Requirement for Bylaw Changes
Sponsors: Arjun Comar, Walker Green
Co-Sponsors:

The original proposal modifies the quorum requirement but only for GBMs. This means that if the chapter grows to be over 2000 members, the quorum requirement will be higher for GBMs than for bylaw changes. This amendment to A5 adds a 10% requirement for bylaws as well.

(a). Amending A5: 5% Quorum Requirement for General Body Meetings, which amends section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS; by
(b). Amending an additional section entitled CHANGES TO THE BYLAWS


3. Meetings of the Members.

Section 1:

“Public meetings…”

Section 2: Quorum

  1. A quorum of 5% of the local membership is required for a general body meeting to transact business.
  2. If applicable, absentee ballots or votes cast electronically shall count towards attaining quorum of the business to which it pertains to.

14. Changes to the Bylaws.

Members shall have the power to approve changes to the Bylaws. Any proposed changes to the Bylaws shall be announced to the members one meeting in advance of any vote. Changes may be adopted by a vote of two-thirds of the members present. In order to amend the bylaws of MDCDSA in the absence of a Local Convention, language must be introduced at the monthly meeting of the members prior to the monthly meeting at which members will vote on the amendment in question. The meeting at which the bylaws amendment is considered must have a quorum of 100 members.


Section 1:

Members shall have the power to approve changes to the Bylaws. Any proposed changes to the Bylaws shall be announced to the members one meeting in advance of any vote. Changes may be adopted by a vote of two-thirds of the members present. In order to amend the bylaws of MDCDSA in the absence of a Local Convention, language must be introduced at the monthly meeting of the members prior to the monthly meeting at which members will vote on the amendment in question.

Section 2: Quorum

  1. The meeting at which the bylaws amendments are is considered must have a quorum of 100 members 10% of the local membership.
  2. If applicable, absentee ballots or votes cast electronically shall count towards attaining quorum of the business to which it pertains to.
A6: Steering Committee Automatically Admin Committee Members
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Margaret McLaughlin, Danny Turkel, Liz G.

Currently all members of the Steering Committee serve as members of the Administrative Committee, but they had to manually vote themselves into the committee. This language circumvents that extra step and allows all current Steering Committee members, who are already elected and entrusted by the membership with sensitive information, to automatically serve on the Administrative Committee and require their assistance with administrative tasks before the Chapter.

(a). Amending section entitled COMMITTEES; ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE


The Administrative Committee shall be a Standing Committee co-chaired by the Secretary and the Treasurer. Any member of the general body may be put forth by the co-chairs of the Administrative Committee to be vetted and approved by a majority vote of the Steering Committee or General body.


The Administrative Committee shall be a Standing Committee co-chaired by the Secretary and the Treasurer. Any member of the general body may be put forth by the co-chairs of the Administrative Committee to be vetted and approved by a majority vote of the Steering Committee or General body. All members of the Steering Committee shall be ex officio members of the Administrative Committee.
A7: Set Annual Elections for IOC Co-Chairs
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Danny Turkel, Francesco R., Liz G., Doug T.

The bylaws currently do not define how long IOC Co-Chairs must serve and when they are elected. This language requires that IOC Co-Chairs are elected annually, separate from the Steering Committee election, and allows for the current IOC Co-Chairs to serve a full year term.

(a). Amending section entitled COMMITTEES; INTERNAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE


The general body membership will elect two IOC officers to oversee the Committee. IOC officers will provide monthly reports on internal organizing to the Steering Committee, or upon request. Any dues paying members in good standing who have an interest in the internal health and function of MDC DSA are encouraged to join. The IOC will be responsible for proposing budgetary needs for internal organizing to the MDC DSA membership and/or appropriate bodies.


The general body membership will elect two IOC officers to oversee the Committee. IOC officers will provide monthly reports on internal organizing to the Steering Committee, or upon request. Any dues paying members in good standing who have an interest in the internal health and function of MDC DSA are encouraged to join. The IOC will be responsible for proposing budgetary needs for internal organizing to the MDC DSA membership and/or appropriate bodies. The IOC Co-Chairs shall be elected annually by secret ballot at the same annual membership meeting that the Steering Committee elections are held.
A8: Steering Committee Composition & Diversity
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Danny Turkel, Greg Afinogenov

The General Body has already approved by resolution that the Steering Committee shall consist of 9 members total (3 officers and 6 at-large members) and that at least five Steering Committee members shall be women, non-binary folks, or persons of color.

It is necessary to have a both of these requirements codified in the bylaws because it will require a higher threshold of approval to change, and prevents it from potentially being changed at any low turnout general body meeting.

In addition, this language explicitly affirms that there will only be one elected Chair, not Co-Chairs, at any given time — as already practiced and provided for in the bylaws.

(a). Amending section entitled STEERING COMMITTEE AND OFFICERS; STEERING COMMITTEE


The Steering Committee shall consist of Officers and at-large members. The officers shall consist of a Chair, a Treasurer, and a Secretary. The number of at-large members of the Steering Committee shall be determined by the general membership. The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be elected directly by the general body and shall be voting members of the Steering Committee. No person shall hold more than one office. Each officer and at-large Steering Committee member will serve a one-year term, the beginning and ending dates to be determined by the members. A majority of the duly appointed members of the Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum for conducting business. The Steering Committee shall meet person at least once a month at a time and place to be determined by the Steering Committee. In-person Steering Committee meetings shall be open to observation by any member of DSA in good standing, unless two-thirds of the committee votes to close the meeting.


The Steering Committee shall consist of Officers and at-large members. The officers shall consist of a Chair, a Treasurer, and a Secretary. The number of at-large members of the Steering Committee shall be determined by the general membership.

Section 1: Composition
  1. The Steering Committee shall be set to nine members, consisting of three Officers and six at-large members. The officers shall be Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.
  2. There shall be only one elected Chair, not Co-Chairs, presiding over the Chapter and the Steering Committee at any given time.
  3. At least five Steering Committee members shall be women, non-binary folks, or persons of color.
Section 2:

The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be elected directly by the general body and shall be voting members of the Steering Committee. No person shall hold more than one office. Each officer and at-large Steering Committee member will serve a one-year term, the beginning and ending dates to be determined by the members. A majority of the duly appointed members of the Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum for conducting business. The Steering Committee shall meet person at least once a month at a time and place to be determined by the Steering Committee. In-person Steering Committee meetings shall be open to observation by any member of DSA in good standing, unless two-thirds of the committee votes to close the meeting.
A8.1: Maintain Proportionality of Steering Committee
Sponsors: Arjun Comar, Walker Green
Co-Sponsors:

This amendment extends the original proposal to keep the size of the Steering Committee proportional to the size of the membership, ensuring that the workload of members of Steering does not grow without available hands to cover needed tasks, and that the Committee remains representative of the membership. The amendment makes constant the approximate current ratio of members to representation on the Committee. It ensures that Committee members are added and removed in pairs without significant fluctuation because of minor changes in the number of dues paying members. The necessary size for the Committee is assessed one month prior to the annual Steering election to give time for an appropriate number of candidates to be nominated, vetted, and elected by the General Body. It does not change the current size of Steering and would not add any new members until the dues-paying membership increases to a count of 1995, at which point the Committee would be increased to 11 members, and to 13 at 2470 members in good standing. If the size of the membership dropped below 1425, the size of the committee would be reduced to 7. This amendment also caps the maximum size of the body at 15 because that represents an approximate doubling in the size of the chapter, at which point the organizational structure of the chapter needs to be revisited in its entirety. The amendment seeks to ensure at-large members are only added or removed from the committee in even increments. That is, if a single member would be added or removed, no change should occur to the size of the committee, and if three members would be added or removed, just two members should be added or removed instead. This keeps the Committee an odd number of members and prevents deadlock. It also ensures the size of the committee changes as little year over year as possible while maintaining proportionality.

(a). Amending A8: Steering Committee Composition & Diversity


Section 1: Composition
  1. The Steering Committee shall be set to nine members, consisting of three Officers and six at-large members. The officers shall be Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.
  2. There shall be only one elected Chair, not Co-Chairs, presiding over the Chapter and the Steering Committee at any given time.
  3. At least five Steering Committee members shall be women, non-binary folks, or persons of color.
Section 2:

The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be elected directly by the general body and shall be voting members of the Steering Committee. No person shall hold more than one office. Each officer and at-large Steering Committee member will serve a one-year term, the beginning and ending dates to be determined by the members. A majority of the duly appointed members of the Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum for conducting business. The Steering Committee shall meet person at least once a month at a time and place to be determined by the Steering Committee. In-person Steering Committee meetings shall be open to observation by any member of DSA in good standing, unless two-thirds of the committee votes to close the meeting.

Section 1: Composition
  1. The Steering Committee shall be set to nine members, consisting of have three Officers and six at-large any remaining members shall be at-large members. The officers shall be Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.
  2. There shall be only one elected Chair, not Co-Chairs, presiding over the Chapter and the Steering Committee at any given time.
  3. At least five A majority of the Steering Committee members shall be women, non-binary folks, or persons of color.
Section 2: Size

The size of the Steering Committee shall be maintained at an approximately constant ratio to the number of chapter members in good standing, assessed at the General Body Meeting one month preceding the annual election of the Committee, with the following stipulations:
  1. The size of the Committee including the Officers shall not be fewer than the number of Officers nor greater than fifteen.
  2. The size of Committee shall be determined by the number of members of the chapter in good standing at a ratio of 1 Committee member per 190 members in good standing. The difference between the current size of the Committee and that fraction rounded to the nearest whole number determines the number of at-large members to be added or removed from the Committee, as appropriate.
  3. At-large members of the Committee shall always be added or removed in even increments. If the increment would be odd, one fewer member shall be added or removed instead.
Section 3:

The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be elected directly by the general body and shall be voting members of the Steering Committee. No person shall hold more than one office. Each officer and at-large Steering Committee member will serve a one-year term, the beginning and ending dates to be determined by the members. A majority of the duly appointed members of the Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum for conducting business. The Steering Committee shall meet person at least once a month at a time and place to be determined by the Steering Committee. In-person Steering Committee meetings shall be open to observation by any member of DSA in good standing, unless two-thirds of the committee votes to close the meeting.
A9: Campaigns Council
Sponsors: Margaret McLaughlin
Co-Sponsors: Danny Turkel, Woody Woodruff, Chris Vega, Jake W., Ben D., Greg Afinogenov, Ryan Mosgrove
Updated:September 16, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A9.1 (Reporting Requirements) by Woody Woodruff;
September 30, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A9.5 (Make Sub-Committee of IOC) by Arjun Comar, Francesco R.;
October 7, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A9.4 (Maintenance of Contact List) by Brian W.

A9: Much of the external work of the chapter is done by working groups or caucuses devoted to carrying out specific campaigns: Stomp out Slumlords, the Electoral Caucus, the Migrant Justice Working Group, etc. Organizing these groups under the umbrella of a Campaigns Council promotes communication between campaigns and visibility across the organization. It also helps newer or unaffiliated members plug into campaigns by giving them a locus to inform themselves of the various work we do. Unlike the IOC, the Campaigns Council acts as a representational body of all external work the chapter participates in.

Working Groups and campaign-based Caucuses shall choose a Campaign Representative for the Campaigns Council; Working Groups are free to determine their Campaign Representative as they see fit. The Campaign Representative serves as the primary point of contact between their respective working group or caucus, the Campaigns Council and the General Body; if they are unresponsive in this duty, they may be voted out and the Working Group or Caucus shall choose another Representative. A Campaign Representative may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote in the affirmative by the Campaigns Council, and, should be rare and only for unresponsive or negligent Representatives.

A9.1: The activities of member groups of the Campaign Council are magnets for members, especially new members, to get actively engaged in MDC DSA’s work. Wide dissemination of the actions, meetings and programs/campaigns of the member groups are essential for members to make informed choices about their engagement, and to avoid informational siloing.

A9.5: This amendment ensures that the Campaigns Council is incorporated into the Internal Organizing Committee which is a natural fit for this Campaign Council.

A9.4: Added language to keep an actual list of who is on the Campaigns Council so that the chapter has their contact information. There is no currently existing list of Working Groups that have been formed and building one has been a logistical nightmare. The easiest way to build this list and keep it up to date is to keep track of the Representatives to the Campaigns Council. By tracking this contact info we will also have a reliable way to plug in new members to specific working groups.

(a). Adding section entitled CAMPAIGNS COUNCIL


Section 1: Purpose and Composition

The Campaigns Council shall be a sub-committee of the Internal Organizing Committee, serving as a comprehensive board and gathering space of Working Groups and campaign-based Caucuses. The Council will be responsible for providing both visibility across MDC DSA’s various campaigns and updates on campaign progress to the broader MDC DSA membership.

Section 2: Communication, Meeting, and Member Participation

Representatives of the Campaigns Council are expected to maintain frequent contact with each other and are encouraged to meet on a regular, monthly basis. Members of any Working Group or campaign-based Caucus may elect a representative to the council, and MDC DSA members unaffiliated with either, shall be free to and encouraged to attend meetings of the Campaigns Council, which shall always remain open to the General Body. The Representatives of the Campaigns Council are expected to maintain frequent contact with each other and are encouraged to meet on a regular, monthly basis. The Campaigns Council must also keep an up to date list of the Representatives serving on the council, including their contact information.

Section 3: Liaison

Meetings of the Campaigns Council shall be facilitated by the Liaison. The Liaison shall be a member of the Council determined by the Council and will serve as Liaison on a two-month rotating basis. The Campaigns Council Liaison shall serve as point of contact between the Council and the Steering Committee and provide updates to the Steering Committee on campaign progress. The Liaison shall:
  1. Coordinate resources to Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses;
    1. Resources include, but are not limited to, the allocation of the Chapter’s physical inventory and assisting the Treasurer with reimbursement requests;
  2. Ensure that conflicts between Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses regarding access to resources or scheduling are resolved amicably, paying appropriate attention to fairness and chapter goals;
  3. Facilitate the provision of organizing training, coaching, and logistical support to Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses as needed;
  4. Coordinate the onboarding of new members to the Campaigns Council.
  5. Assign, task or cause to happen regular reporting on activities by all campaigns represented on the Council, accessible to the Steering and Administrative Committees, the General Body, and MDC DSA periodicals, other publications and web content. The frequency of the reports may be set by the Liaison or by the Steering Committee on behalf of the General Body.
Section 4: Branch Participation

Each Branch shall be allowed to select a Branch Representative who serves as a non-voting participant to the Council, with the intent of providing insight and advice for campaigns in the geographic area of that Branch.
A9.2: Removal of Campaign-based Caucus Inclusion on Campaigns Council
Sponsors: Brian W.
Co-Sponsors: Nate Su.

Current language mentions campaign based caucuses. Recommending removal because there is currently no definition of what a campaign based caucus is or what distinguishes them from a regular caucus. Also the language about provisions of resources and funds to caucuses could set a dangerous precedent if ideological caucuses were to receive resources or funds.

If language was in there to provide representation to Electoral comrades, they could form a five member Electoral Working Group to continue to receive representation on the Council for the short periods in between the existence of more specific electoral campaign working groups.

(a). Amending A9: Campaigns Council


Section 1: Purpose and Composition

The Campaigns Council shall be a Standing Committee, serving as a comprehensive board and gathering space of Working Groups and campaign-based Caucuses. The Council will be responsible for providing both visibility across MDC DSA’s various campaigns and updates on campaign progress to the broader MDC DSA membership.

Section 2: Communication, Meeting, and Member Participation

Representatives of the Campaigns Council are expected to maintain frequent contact with each other and are encouraged to meet on a regular, monthly basis. Members of any Working Group or campaign-based Caucus may elect a representative to the council, and MDC DSA members unaffiliated with either, shall be free to and encouraged to attend meetings of the Campaigns Council, which shall always remain open to the General Body. The Representatives of the Campaigns Council are expected to maintain frequent contact with each other and are encouraged to meet on a regular, monthly basis.

Section 3: Liaison

Meetings of the Campaigns Council shall be facilitated by the Liaison. The Liaison shall be a member of the Council determined by the Council and will serve as Liaison on a two-month rotating basis. The Campaigns Council Liaison shall serve as point of contact between the Council and the Steering Committee and provide updates to the Steering Committee on campaign progress. The Liaison shall:
  1. Coordinate resources to Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses;
    1. Resources include, but are not limited to, the allocation of the Chapter’s physical inventory and assisting the Treasurer with reimbursement requests;
  2. Ensure that conflicts between Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses regarding access to resources or scheduling are resolved amicably, paying appropriate attention to fairness and chapter goals;
  3. Facilitate the provision of organizing training, coaching, and logistical support to Campaign Working Groups and Caucuses as needed;
  4. Coordinate the onboarding of new members to the Campaigns Council.
  5. Assign, task or cause to happen regular reporting on activities by all campaigns represented on the Council, accessible to the Steering and Administrative Committees, the General Body, and MDC DSA periodicals, other publications and web content. The frequency of the reports may be set by the Liaison or by the Steering Committee on behalf of the General Body
Section 4: Branch Participation

Each Branch shall be allowed to select a Branch Representative who serves as a non-voting participant to the Council, with the intent of providing insight and advice for campaigns in the geographic area of that Branch.
A9.3: Change Classification of the Electoral Caucus to a Working Group

This proposal has been rescinded by its sponsor and will not be proposed at the Convention.

A10: Distinguish Dues From Chapter Donations
Sponsors: Kim Lehmkuhl
Co-Sponsors: Gabriel Rodriguez, Ben D., Doug T., Francesco R.

MDC DSA’s bylaws conflict with recent action taken by the National Political Committee to “determine procedures for the collection of dues and contributions and the sharing of same between the Local and National Organizations” pursuant to Article II, Section 6 of the DSA bylaws.

In or around June 2018, the NPC adopted the guidance, provided in section 8 of Resolution #21 (Move Towards Monthly Dues) passed at the 2017 DSA Convention, that “local chapters receive back from the national organization 20% of the amount the members in their jurisdiction contribute in the form of monthly dues, at regular intervals.” This 20/80 monthly dues split applies regardless of whether dues are paid to National or to MDC DSA.

The NPC has further indicated its intention to “consider the proportion of annual dues to be shared back to chapters and how this will be implemented” at an upcoming meeting. It is foreseeable that the annual dues split ultimately adopted will apply regardless of whether dues are paid to National or to MDC DSA.

MDC DSA’s current bylaw language conveys an intent to raise and retain funds above and beyond dues amounts determined by DSA. This intent can be preserved by modifying the language to reflect the practice permitted by Article II, Section 5 of the DSA bylaws: “Locals may set up pledge systems for their members, whereby members can pledge to make regular donations to the Local in excess of National dues on a monthly, quarterly or other basis.”

(a). Amending section entitled DUES


6. Dues

The members shall determine any Dues, which shall be separate from dues paid to national Democratic Socialists of America. All dues collected by the Chapter shall be retained by the Chapter.

6. Donations and Dues

The members shall determine any Dues may set up a pledge system, whereby anyone may make regular donations, which shall be separate from dues paid to determined by national Democratic Socialists of America. All dues donations collected by the Chapter shall be retained by the Chapter.
A11: Public Statements
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Brian W., Francesco R., Ryan Mosgrove

In an effort to better inform members of all points of views and positions regarding proposed resolutions, members will now be able to submit public statements on any business, which will be published publicly alongside proposals wherever they are distributed, including on the Chapter’s website and weekly email updates.

Example: East Bay DSA Member Positions for December 10 General Meeting

(a). Adding section entitled PUBLIC STATEMENTS


Public Statements
  1. Any member in good standing may submit a public statement — whether in favor, in opposition, or otherwise — to any proposed resolution or bylaw amendment, which shall be published alongside such business items wherever they are distributed, to inform the general body of all points of view when considering an issue.
    1. This includes, but not limited to, being made available on the Chapter’s website and weekly email publication.
  2. Public statements may be submitted by non-sponsors at any time in the consideration process.
  3. Sponsors of a resolution are required to submit a public statement to accompany their proposed resolution.
A12: Endorsements Committee
Sponsors: Walker Green, Stu K.
Co-Sponsors: Austin Warrington, Ben Davis, Greg Afinogenov, Brian W., Kim Lehmkuhl, Nate S., Jake W.

There needs to be a non-partisan electoral committee that processes all political candidates who seek our Chapter’s endorsement, regardless of political party or office sought. Members of the Endorsements Committee will be charged with the initial endorsement process, and will create and provide all candidates one of three Standard Electoral Candidate Questionnaires — based on the candidate’s state-level jurisdiction — to determine if a candidate’s values align with DSA’s. The Steering Committee will approve all questionnaires before finalizing the questionnaires for the election cycle of that given year. Campaign-based working groups and independent caucuses can take on further research and vetting of candidates in the form of interviews, in-person meetings, and race-specific questionnaires.

(a). Amending section entitled COMMITTEES to add new subsection ENDORSEMENTS COMMITTEE

  1. Endorsements Committee
    1. Purpose
      1. The Endorsements Committee (EC) shall be a Standing Committee charged with all communications and processing of political candidates who seek the Chapter’s endorsement.
      2. The EC shall be an administrative body that remains neutral on ideological motivation of candidates and conducts the administrative tasks of processing all endorsement applications, regardless of political party or office sought.
    2. Membership
      1. The EC shall be co-chaired by members appointed annually by the Steering Committee and confirmed by the General Body.
        1. To avoid a conflict of interest, the following members shall not be permitted to co-chair this committee, but are encouraged to join as regular committee members:
          1. Members of the Steering Committee.
          2. Elected chairs of any campaign-based working group or caucus.
          3. Paid staff of any electoral campaigns.
      2. Any member in good standing may join the EC to help with its activities.
    3. Endorsement Process
      1. The endorsement process for each electoral cycle shall begin on November 15 of the year before elections in which the chapter endorsements are taking place.
      2. All political candidates who seek the Chapter’s endorsement shall be required to submit a request for chapter endorsement to the EC to start the endorsement process on their campaign. The endorsement request form shall be available on the Chapter’s website.
        1. The EC is required to process all endorsement requests regardless of the number of electoral campaigns the Chapter has already endorsed and timeline into the election cycle.
      3. The EC shall send candidates who submit a request for chapter endorsement a Standard Electoral Candidate Questionnaire that all candidates must fill out before further consideration. The Standard Electoral Candidate Questionnaire shall include standard and jurisdiction-specific questions to determine whether a candidate’s values align with the values and mission of DSA.
        1. The EC shall be charged with researching and drafting three standard questionnaires — one each for jurisdictions listed in paragraph (iii)(2) — and encouraged to solicit advice and feedback from the general body.
        2. The EC shall be charged with gathering input from members on three sets of jurisdiction-specific questions from the following state-level jurisdictions:
          1. District of Columbia
          2. Maryland
          3. Virginia
        3. Prior to submission for Steering Committee approval, the EC may consult and collaborate with relevant caucuses and working groups, including, but not limited to, the Socialist Feminist Caucus, the AfroSoc Caucus, the Service Industry Caucus, and the Reinvest Working Group, seeking advice and input for specific issue questions.
      4. The Standard Electoral Candidate Questionnaires are subject to approval by the Steering Committee.The EC is not responsible for introducing endorsement resolutions or motivating the endorsement of an electoral candidate. This responsibility falls on any campaign-based working group, caucus, or individual sponsor.
      5. All endorsement resolutions must go through the regular resolution process as determined in these bylaws.
    4. Transparency
      1. Whenever a candidate submits an endorsement application, the EC shall notify the general body within 1 week of a candidate’s request for an endorsement proceeding.
      2. The EC shall keep the general body informed of the status of all endorsement proceedings.
      3. The EC shall publish a candidate’s standard questionnaire to the general body within 1 week of submission.
    5. Campaign-Based Working Groups, Caucuses, Branches, and Individuals
      1. Any campaign-based working group, caucus, branch, or individual member in good standing, in coordination with the EC, may take on the additional responsibility of research, vetting, and motivating of a candidate, including, but not limited to, race-specific questionnaires, conference call interviews, and in-person meetings.
        1. The EC cannot interfere with independent research or vetting of a candidate.
    6. Recommendation for National Endorsement
      1. The EC shall receive requests from members seeking to send locally endorsed candidates to national DSA for national endorsement.
      2. The EC shall present national endorsement requests to the Steering Committee for approval, at which point the EC shall designate a member, caucus, branch, or campaign-based working group as responsible for completing and submitting any required materials to national DSA for national endorsement of a locally endorsed candidate.
A13: Extended Discussion and Absentee Voting

This amendment has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A16, and will be presented as A13.1.

A13.1: Extended Discussion and Absentee Voting (Revised)
Sponsors: Ryan Mosgrove, Walker Green, Stu K.
Co-Sponsors: Nate S., Kim Lehmkuhl

This amendment would create an absentee voting system and allow for a longer period of discussion and voting on proposals being brought before the membership for approval. Our current system is more or less typical of membership organizations and restricts voting and formal discussion to the monthly in-person meeting of the members. This proposal allows for more formal online debate of proposals before the GBM, then in-person oral discussion at the GBM, then a three day period for absentee voting before discussion and voting is closed.

This proposal is based on the language of the Absentee Proposal being discussed currently in Boston DSA, which currently has 190 co-signers both within Boston and around the country. I share the arguments that the proposal’s author laid out here. If we want to build a majoritarian movement for democratic socialism, it’s important that we break down as many barriers to participation in discussion as we can while ensuring our decision making process remains effective. I believe this process will allow our decisions as a chapter to incorporate a broader range of input, and increase engagement among our members in our most vital function as a chapter — collective decision making.

Addition: This is a revised version of A13 that merges it with elements of A16 to create a single proposal regarding absentee voting which all sponsors have agreed to.

(a). Amending section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS


Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.

Section 1: Function

  •  
    Public meetings of the members…

Section 2: Voting Rights

  1. All members shall be enfranchised and have the right to vote on all proceedings brought before the general body.

Section 3: Absentee Voting

  1. Process: MDC DSA shall offer absentee voting on any measure which is to be considered by a vote of a general body meeting of a members of MDCDSA (each such measure, a “Proposal”). For any Proposal, there shall be at least one in-person meeting of the members for oral discussion and debate of the issue. Prior to the day of the in-person meeting of the members, there shall also be an online discussion period of at least three days. Absentee voting shall open for three days immediately following the in-person meeting of the members, during which time online discussion shall be ongoing.
  2. Eligibility: In order to be eligible for absentee voting, members must have joined DSA more than 30 days prior to the in-person meeting of the members or have attended the relevant in-person meeting of the members. This restriction does not apply to voting in person.
  3. Absentee Ballots: A Credentials Committee, a Sub-Committee of the Administrative Committee, shall be responsible for developing an effective, accessible, and secure method for online discussion and absentee voting. The identity of the member requesting an absentee ballot shall be securely authenticated at the time the ballot is issued. Summaries of the online and in person discussions and access to the complete records of these discussions shall be made available on the same interface as the absentee ballot. The Administrative Committee shall be responsible for the creation, administration, and collection of absentee ballots as well as informing the Secretary of the names of absentee voters and the results.
  4. Proposals & Amendments: Proposals must be submitted and distributed no later than one day in advance of the period of online discussion. Amendments to Proposals must be submitted before absentee voting opens. Any amendment not accepted by the primary Proposal’s authors may either be withdrawn by those submitting it or added to the absentee ballot as alternative version of the primary Proposal.
  5. Exceptional and Emergency Circumstances: In exceptional and/or emergency circumstances in which deliberation on a Proposal cannot be delayed until the required conditions are met, the Steering Committee may, by a two-thirds vote, shorten the online discussion and voting period or alternatively put the Proposal to in-person voting alone without absentee voting. If the Steering Committee votes to restrict a given vote to in-person voting only, members present at the in-person vote may, with a two-thirds majority, override the Steering Committee and allow for a three-day absentee voting period following the meeting. In consultation with the Administrative Committee, the Steering Committee may, by a two-thirds majority, postpone absentee voting should a credible security threat be discovered.
  6. Quorum: Absentee ballots shall count towards attaining quorum of the business to which it pertains to.
A14: Livestream GBMs
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Ryan Mosgrove, Kim Lehmkuhl

To increase accessibility to our General Body Meetings for members who cannot make it, we should livestream public portions of our monthly meetings. Any member who wishes to not appear in the livestream may opt out of the video and speak off-screen and/or opt to have the livestream muted for the duration of their speech. Here’s an example livestream from Boston DSA’s General Body Meetings.

(a). Amending section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS


Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.


Public meetings of the members…

  1. Public portions of General Body Meetings that are not in Executive Session, shall be live-streamed.
    1. Footage
      1. The livestream shall be limited to displaying presiding officers, members who are making announcements, members who are presenting to the general body, and sponsors or debaters of resolutions who wish to speak at the dais.
    2. Security
      1. Any member may opt-out of being in the livestream video and can speak off camera.
      2. Any member may opt to have the livestream audio muted or video paused during the duration of their speech.
      3. The general body may move a meeting into Executive Session at anytime by a majority vote.
    3. Facilitation
      1. The Technology Committee, a Sub-Committee of the Administrative Committee, shall be responsible for facilitating the livestream of the meeting. Members of the Technology Committee shall be appointed by the Administrative Committee.
A15: Proposals Committee
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Kim Lehmkuhl
Updated:September 30, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A15.1 (Make Sub-Committee of Administrative Committee) by Walker Green

There is a need for the chapter to have an advisory body of members versed in parliamentary procedure that members can consult when creating resolutions. The Proposals Committee will help members draft resolutions, inform them if a proposal needs a resolution, and provide alternatives and solutions to any parliamentary issues that may arise. The Proposals Committee shall operate similarly to the Convention Proposals Committee.

(a). Amending section entitled COMMITTEES


Amended to add:
  1. Proposals Committee.
    1. The Proposals Committee shall be a sub-committee of the Administrative Committee charged with assisting members in the preparation of all resolutions and bylaw amendments to be considered by the general body. The Proposals Committee is an advisory body that seeks to help members draft proposals.
    2. The Proposals Committee shall be a nonpartisan body composed of members from varying ideological backgrounds. Co-Chairs shall be appointed by the Steering Committee. Any member can join the Proposals Committee as a regular member.
    3. The Proposals Committee shall be responsible for:
      1. Assisting members with the drafting of resolutions and bylaw amendments.
      2. Determining what proposals require and don’t require a resolution.
      3. Making sure submitted proposal do not conflict with these bylaws.
      4. Making resolution sponsors aware of any potential parliamentary issues and providing possible alternatives and solutions to such issues.
      5. Informing members if a proposal has already been considered, adopted, or rejected in the past in consultation with the Secretary.
      6. Facilitating discussion between sponsors with complementary or contradictory proposals.
    4. All proposals to be considered at a general body meeting must be submitted first to the Proposals Committee.
      1. The Proposals Committee shall work in conjunction with the Administrative Committee and the Steering Committee when setting proposals to be considered on the GBM agenda.
      2. The Proposals Committee shall not be empowered to halt the consideration of any proposed resolution or bylaw amendment. All submitted proposals, after review by the committee, will be placed on the agenda of the next following GBM.
A16: Absentee Voting on All Resolutions
Sponsors: Walker Green, Stu K.
Co-Sponsors: Chris Vega, Ben D.

This amendment has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A16, and will be presented as A13.1.

A17: Electoral Endorsement Process
Sponsors: Sam Knight
Co-Sponsors: Walker Green, Greg Afinogenov, Kim Lehmkuhl
Updated:October 10, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A17.2 (Strips Working Group Language, Adds Conflict-of-Interest Provisions) by Sam Knight

A17: This bylaw amendment outlines a transparent, simple procedure for getting electoral endorsements from the General Body.

A17.2: This amendment to Amendment 17 strips the Working Group language out of the initial proposal. It also adds a conflict-of-interest provision.

(a). Amending section entitled ELECTORAL ENDORSEMENTS


Electoral Endorsements. The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting. Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.


Electoral Endorsements. The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting., once the following requirements are met:
  1. Candidates must have the support, in writing, of five (5) MDC DSA members in good standing, excluding any members who are working in a professional capacity for the candidate seeking MDC DSA’s endorsement.
  2. The Steering Committee must then certify that candidates are supported by five qualified chapter members in good standing, and that candidates have completed a questionnaire relevant to the specific office that the candidate is seeking (e.g. Mayoral, Alexandria County Council, United States Senate).
  3. After submitting the questionnaire, the candidate must come to one General Body Meeting to answer questions directly from MDC DSA members.
  4. The final vote may not take place until the next general body meeting so that all MDC DSA members have a reasonable amount of time to conduct their own research on the candidate.

Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.

A17.1: Two-Tiered Endorsement Structure
Sponsors: Greg Afinogenov, Margaret M.
Co-Sponsors:

Provide for the option of adopting a statement of support instead of a full endorsement in the event that the chapter is divided on an endorsement question.

(a). Amending A17: Electoral Endorsement Process


Electoral Endorsements. The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting, once the following requirements are met:
  1. Candidates must have a Working Group formed on behalf of their electoral campaign as a prerequisite to seeking endorsement.
  2. The Working Group must submit to Steering Committee a completed candidate questionnaire relevant to the specific office that the candidate is seeking (e.g. Mayoral, Alexandria County Council, United States Senate).
  3. After submitting the questionnaire, the candidate must come to one General Body Meeting to answer questions directly from MDC DSA members.
  4. The final vote may not take place until the next general body meeting so that all MDC DSA members have a reasonable amount of time to conduct their own research on the candidate.

Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.


Electoral Endorsements. The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting, once the following requirements are met:
  1. Candidates must have a Working Group formed on behalf of their electoral campaign as a prerequisite to seeking endorsement.
  2. The Working Group must submit to Steering Committee a completed candidate questionnaire relevant to the specific office that the candidate is seeking (e.g. Mayoral, Alexandria County Council, United States Senate).
  3. After submitting the questionnaire, the candidate must come to one General Body Meeting to answer questions directly from MDC DSA members.
  4. The final vote may not take place until the next general body meeting so that all MDC DSA members have a reasonable amount of time to conduct their own research on the candidate.
  5. In the event that the endorsement vote fails, the chapter may, by majority vote, choose to issue a statement of support for the candidate instead. Members may not campaign for the candidate as representatives of MDC DSA, and chapter resources may not be used to support the campaign, but the candidate is permitted to publicize and refer to the statement in their campaign materials.

Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.

A18: Mandate Leave of Absence Policies for Elected Positions
Sponsors: Nate S.
Co-Sponsors: Greg Afinogenov

People need to take a step back from elected chapter positions for various reasons including physical/mental health, burnout, family, life circumstances, etc. Part of creating an organization that motivates people to get involved and run for elected positions, is ensuring they have the support to step back as needed to take care of these other matters. Our current lack of policies in this area breeds the expectation that individuals elected to chapter positions are taking on a “second job” which is often not feasible for otherwise-motivated comrades — for example, we have had two Steering members resign in the past, citing lack of time for the role. This amendment would mandate each elected position have a leave of absence policy and sets minimum expectations for these policies, but does not specify in detail. We could, for example, have one leave of absence policy for all elected positions; alternatively, we could have one policy for Steering Committee members and another for the Internal Organizing Committee Co-Chairs.

(a). Adding section entitled LEAVE OF ABSENCE


Leave of Absence. Every elected position at the chapter level in Metro DC DSA (i.e., positions elected by the MDC DSA general body, including but not limited to members of the Steering Committee, Co-Chairs of the IOC, Grievance Officers, and Branch Leadership) shall have a written leave of absence policy adopted by resolution of the Steering Committee, General Body, or bylaw. Leave of absence policies for elected positions shall minimally incorporate the following elements:
  • Members elected to a given position may take leave of absence through notification of the Steering Committee and the body or committee(s) primarily impacted by the elected position.
  • Taking a leave of absence shall not jeopardize the continuance of the member in the elected position after the leave of absence has finished. The member shall be able to return to the position with all rights and responsibilities of that position restored.
  • Members taking a leave of absence from an elected position shall make best efforts to ensure the vital functions of that position continue to be met in their absence. Members shall not be asked to continue their responsibilities in the elected position during their leave of absence, except wherein such responsibilities are vital to chapter functioning and cannot reasonably be delegated to other members.

Other aspects related to leaves of absence, such as the length of allowable absence or appointment of members “acting” in the elected role for the duration of the absence, may be addressed in the policy specific to the position in question.

A19: Allow Less-Frequent Voting Meetings and Asynchronous Voting

This amendment has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A20 and A21, and will presented as A19.1.

A19.1: Allow Less-Frequent Voting Meetings and Alternate Meeting Types
Sponsors: Kim Lehmkuhl, Nate S., Brian W.
Co-Sponsors:

This final proposal is a merger of A19, A20, and A21. The author of A19 has accepted this amendment as friendly, and the author of A20/A21 is withdrawing those proposals.

The Steering Committee has discussed at the past several meetings that General Body Meetings have seen a decline in attendance/interest. There is broad agreement among the Steering Committee that the voting function of the meeting and the campaigns mobilization/plugging-in function of the meeting seem to be at odds with one another. In addition, several GBMs have had too many agenda items that end up competing for time. Lastly, many things go to a GBM vote that, per our bylaws, do not require such a vote. All of this has created significant administrative workload for the chapter and especially the Steering and Admin Committees.

The solution is to do what many other chapters do and have less frequent voting meetings. New Orleans DSA, for example, has a quarterly voting meeting where they vote on anything that rises to the level of a GBM vote. They still have a meeting every month-however, these meetings can be strategy sessions, presentations from community groups, organizing trainings, education, etc. There are many things that a “DSA meeting” could be apart from the typical model we have constructed of campaign updates, breakout groups, voting, etc. Hardcoding the frequency of voting meetings into the bylaws has prevented us from having this flexibility.

This bylaws amendment does not commit the chapter to any particular course of action regarding GBMs, but strikes language that would disallow the changes we are considering. These changes would allow for voting meetings as infrequent as once every three months. This doesn’t mean we have to move to this timeline-we could still continue having meetings the way we are, even with these bylaws changes-but it gives us the option to adapt.

(a). Amending section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS


3. Meetings of the Members.

Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.


3. Meetings of the Members.

Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month every three months, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting‘s deliberations shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting (i.e. voting meeting), Informational Meeting (a non-voting meeting), Special Meeting, or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month General Body Meeting or a Local Convention at least once every three months. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting or Special Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.

Special Meetings. The Steering Committee, by majority vote of the Committee or petition of 5 percent of the Membership, may call a Special Meeting on at least seven days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation. No matters other than those listed in the meeting notice may be brought to or raised from the floor at a Special Meeting. Voting may be conducted at a Special Meeting on those matters listed in the meeting notice.

Informational Meetings. The Steering Committee may call additional chapter-wide Informational Meetings for a variety of reasons but at which voting business will not be conducted and policies will not be set. For the purposes of these bylaws, chapter-wide Informational Meetings should not be considered General Body Meetings.

Urgent Matters. Urgent matters that would regularly require a GBM vote may be voted on by the Steering Committee and, if adopted, be put to a ratification vote by a majority or two-thirds vote as the bylaws require, at the next voting meeting.

Definition of Voting. “Voting,” in the context of the above sections, shall refer to synchronous or asynchronous voting, in-person or remotely, pursuant to these bylaws.

A20: Creating Category for Special Meetings and Informational Meetings

This amendment has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A19 and A21, and will be presented as A19.1.

A21: Decreasing GBM Frequency Requirement

This amendment has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A19 and A20, and will be presented as A19.1.

A22: Creating Strategy Forums
Sponsors: Brian W.
Co-Sponsors: Jake W., Chris Vega, Matthew Agar, Ben D., Ryan Mosgrove, Nate S.

This chapter lacks a robust public debate around the strategies and goals of our various working groups. Many of these conversations do take place but remain internal to the working groups in which they occur, leaving the membership only aware about work that they are intimately involved in. This amendment tasks the Steering Committee with planning quarterly forums that could serve to facilitate this discussion. These forums would feature presentations from each working group on their goals, strategies, successes, and setbacks. After each presentation would be discussion from the general membership, where members can ask questions, provide suggestions, and find out ways to be involved. The forum is not a body invested with any decision making authority, but simply an event to force our membership to think strategically about designing campaigns. The Steering Committee may also delegate this planning task to other members of the local if it chooses. This task would be best carried out, planned, and sponsored by the Campaigns Council [A9] if it passes.

(a). Amending section entitled MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS


Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting.


Public meetings of the members shall be held on a regular basis, at least once a month, and at a regularly scheduled time and place, unless determined otherwise by the members. The meeting shall be run according to the adopted parliamentary authority and other procedures approved by the members. A meeting of the members shall be defined as a General Body Meeting or a Local Convention. The General Body Membership shall convene in a meeting of the members at least once a month. In the absence of a Local Convention, the members present and assembled at a General Body Meeting represent the General Body Membership and are the highest decision-making authority in the organization. The General Body Membership shall allow for the democratic introduction of proposals through a resolution process. Resolutions can be introduced by any member at a General Body Meeting. The membership shall also meet quarterly for a Strategy Forum. This meeting has no decision making authority but is intended to facilitate discussions about the goals, strategies, and activities of our Working Groups and Committees. The Steering Committee shall be responsible for planning this event, but may delegate this task to other members or formations, if it chooses.

A23: Allow Campaigning for Other DSA Chapter-Endorsed Candidates
Sponsors: Brian W.
Co-Sponsors: Ben D.

The current bylaws language allows members to officially organize for other nationally endorsed DSA candidates, but doesn’t mention the ability to organize for candidates endorsed by other DSA locals. This amendment clarifies the original intent. This change will allow us to lend aid to chapters in our region to help them develop their electoral programs, especially ones that might not have nationally endorsed candidates.

(a). Amending section entitled ELECTORAL ENDORSEMENTS


The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting. Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.


The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting. Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA, other DSA Chapters, or DSA National.

A24: Publications Editorial Board
Sponsors: Craig T., Woody Woodruff
Co-Sponsors:Alex Morash
Updated:September 30, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A24.1 (Reducing Steering Committee’s Involvement in the PEB) by Francesco R., Arjun Comar

A24: MDC DSA leaders rightly want a wider participation in the local chapter’s publications — periodicals (weekly update and monthly Washington Socialist), brochures and printed outreach material — and a stronger presence for our campaigns on the website mdcdsa.org.

Formalizing what has been an ad hoc legacy activity predating the local’s recent growth requires the creation of a working group with leadership that is accountable to the General Body and to its representative leadership group, the Steering Committee.

This proposal for a new bylaw preserves the authority residing in the Administrative Committee and the two elected members of the Steering Committee for managing (including budget and standing platforms). Co-chairs of the Working Group will be appointed by the Steering Committee.

Activists in MDC DSA’s publications, including the legacy workers, welcome the prospect of an enlarged Working Group to cooperatively manage all the parallel activities in the publications sphere.

The proposed Working Group will ensure — through its size and diversity — that MDC DSA publications will continue to represent the local chapter and the singular qualities of socialist activism by an explicitly socialist organization in the DMV.

A24.1: Clarifies language around the structure of the board and ensures its accountable to the General Body instead of Steering, which should probably stay out of directly managing this Board. It also allows the members of the working group to elect their own leaders and mandates diversity requirements for the co-chairs of the Board.

(a). Adding section entitled PUBLICATIONS EDITORIAL BOARD


Section 1: Publications Editorial Board

  1. A publications editorial board (PEB) shall be a Standing Board with at least 3 and up to 5 members, including Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs shall be elected by the members of the Publications Working Group. At least two members of the Board shall be women, non-binary folks, or persons of color. Any current member of MDC DSA may be a member of the PEB.

Section 2: Constitution

  1. The constitution of the PEB, and the structural principles outlined below, may be revisited at any time, but no more than twice in one year, by the General Body on petition of ten current MDC DSA members in good standing.

Section 3: Purview

  1. The PEB’s purview shall be oversight, management and production of MDC DSA publications, which may include print or digital periodicals, brochures or flyers, news releases, video, audio, and web content on mdcdsa.org or other platforms.

Section 4:

  1. The PEB shall organize the Publications Working Group to produce content as needed for MDC DSA. They shall also meet regularly with the Publications Working Group to ensure that work is completed on a timely basis.
  2. The PEB shall strive to solicit and produce content, including design, that meets the chapter’s needs, informs the chapter and the public about chapter initiatives and achievements, and contributes to the discussion of socialism. They may produce other content as needed.
  3. </span class=”newtext”>The PEB shall ensure that all content reflects the values of Democratic Socialists of America, Metro DC DSA, and democratic socialism and represents a wide range of perspectives across all chapter publications. They shall also ensure that all publications appear on schedule and on budget if one is needed.

Section 5: Leadership

  1. The PEB co-chairs are charged with organizing members of the Publications Working Group in producing content. The co-chairs are accountable for the content of the publications across all platforms and are editorially independent of other MDC DSA leadership formations of MDC except in instances in which the General Body applies constraints of time, place, and manner. The PEB co-chairs are subject to recall at any time by majority vote of the Publications Working Group or resolution of the General Body, with a special election to fill the vacated seat for the remainder of the term to follow within a timeframe to be decided by the PEB.

Section 6: Publications

  1. Platforms used to produce and publish PEB content shall be managed by the Administrative Committee (8.a) and its co-chairs, the Secretary and Treasurer. Any PEB proposals for printed material, or video, will be subject to standing budget procedures for approval by the General Body.
A24.2: PEB Composition and Diversity

This proposal has been rescinded by its sponsor and merged with A24.1, and will be presented as A24.

A25: Three Reader Resolution Process
Sponsors: Walker Green, Chris Hicks, David Duhalde
Co-Sponsors: Woody Woodruff, Arjun Comar, Craig Triplett, Danny Turkel, Greg Afinogenov, Aaron M., Francesco R., Arman, Christine Riddiough, Kim Lehmkuhl, Todd Brogan, Caleb-Michael Files, Chris Vega, David Kaib, Stu K., Leo Casey, Jack Clark, Kurt Stand, Leo Gertner, Skip Roberts, Eric Dillon, Hailey Huget, Jose Gutierrez, Sam Nelson, Brian D.

Currently, our resolution process fosters discussions that are often rushed and leave members inadequately informed. Often resolutions are proposed before the General Body with little knowledge of the members of what was being proposed, where to find proposed language ahead of time, and how proposals will impact the chapter. Often, new members attending their first Metro DC DSA general body meetings find themselves voting on important matters, such as endorsement of politicians, our federal tax status, or our financial reimbursement policy, with little or no context of the need of these resolutions, creating an environment of confusion and “insider baseball.” Such asymmetries of information, where one side knows much more about an issue than another, can leave discussion making debate rather lacking because few understand the nuances. In some cases, our chapter has taken votes on resolutions that didn’t need to be voted on, taking away from our limited time together.

This proposal mandates that all resolutions must be introduced one-month before formal debate and adoption, with explicit exceptions and override procedures, and subjects to them to a “Three Reader” review system. The purpose of this bylaw amendment is to give members more time to consider proposals and venues to be informed, and ensure that the resolutions are needed for the action called for. This will create a much more informed democracy and democratic culture in our chapter and strengthen our commitment to resolutions after we vote on them. This proposal continues to make our general body be the ultimate decision-maker of the organization. Any resolution adopted by the general body or steering committee may always be re-considered and overturned.

***

The purpose of the first read is to allow members to introduce a resolution for the first time before the general body. At the first read, sponsors of resolutions can inform the general body of their proposal and solicit feedback from members. The first read will act more like a discussion rather than a formally structured debate with limited time. Here, sponsors will be able to gauge the audience on how they feel about the action they’re proposing and discover any areas of contention or concern members may have. Members will also be able to suggest language or ideas to improve the resolution to help the sponsor reach their intended goal (note that this is not a formal amendment process). Resolutions being proposed in the first read are not put to a vote, but rather, sent to the second read.

The purpose of the second reading is to provide the Steering Committee and interested members an opportunity to make any changes to the resolution before a final vote. This would happen at a steering meeting following the GBM to allow for a more concentrated discussion of issues regarding the resolution, and finalize language before the ultimate General Body vote that determines its adoption or not. A smaller, but still public meeting, about the resolutions can help sharpen the document and give people a chance to clarify questions, differences, and concerns that otherwise could take up a significant portion of a GBM. This second meeting, however, cannot pass, defeat, or table a resolution. Only the GBM reserves that right. If it there is no second reading between GBMs, the resolution goes straight to a third reading at the next GBM for a vote.

At the Second Read, the Steering Committee can debate the resolution and make any alterations they see fit — both friendly and unfriendly (amendments). Any changes would clearly be marked as so and given to the original sponsor in advance. The sponsor reserves the right to not accept the Steering-amended proposal, and the original proposal can be sent to the Third Read for a vote. Non-steering members present may debate and propose amendments as well. Steering may adopt non-committee members suggestions, but only steering members can vote on the final version (since it’s their meeting) that is sent to the Third Read (the next GBM). Proponents and opponents of resolutions are encouraged to attend to make their thoughts heard.

If the Steering Committee passes a version of the resolution that is unfriendly to the original proposal, the sponsor may submit the original proposal alongside the Steering-amended resolution at the next GBM. Whichever gets the higher amount of votes wins. If the resolution is passed unanimously at the second read, then the Steering Committee may submit it to the consent agenda for the following GBM. As always, one member may request an item be removed from the consent agenda and debated on the floor.

The purpose of the third reading is to be exactly like the voting procedure we engage in now. Since the proposal has been through two reads, and members are now fully informed about the merits and concerns of the proposal, it is put to a final debate and vote before the general body. Proposals in the third read are dealt with according to Robert’s Rules of Order, instead of an informal discussion. The proposal(s) that make the Third Read can still be amended before being put to a final vote.

At anytime during this process, 2/3rd of Steering or 3/4th of the General Body can declare a resolution an “Emergency Resolution” and have it skip the Three Reader system and put to an immediate debate and vote.

(a). Adding section entitled RESOLUTIONS


Definition
  1. Resolutions may be adopted by the the General Body at any scheduled general body meeting. Resolutions shall require a rationale, a statement of purpose in the form of Whereas clauses, and the action(s) to be taken by the Chapter in the form of Be It Resolved clauses.
    1. Resolutions shall pertain to the following: A) fiduciary matters (finances, expenditures, reimbursements); B) chapter statements including, but limited to, on events, stances, and politics; C) joining coalitions; D) endorsement of candidates for public office; E) appointments to committees; and F) dissolution of the chapter (see “Dissolution”).
    2. The following items of business do not require a resolution, and shall be not be considered by the general body: A) creation of working groups (see “Working Groups”); B) creation of caucuses (see “Caucuses”); C) commitment to work on a particular issue; D) commitment to participate in a day(s) of action; E) support for politicians (U.S. or otherwise); and F) support for federal, state, or municipal legislation without action required.
Process
All resolutions considered by the general body shall be put to the following process:
  1. First Read: Introduction to General Body & Solicit Feedback: The purpose of the first read is to introduce a resolution concept to the general body and respond to questions.
    1. A resolution shall be put to a first read at a General Body Meeting. Any member in good standing may introduce a resolution, so long as they meet the required definitions of a resolution.
    2. Members may ask clarifying questions about the introduced resolution, but may not propose amendments, move to a final debate, or vote on the resolution at its first read.
  2. Second Read: Steering Review & Amendments: The purpose of the second read is to provide the Steering Committee and interested members an opportunity to make any changes to the resolution before a final vote.
    1. At the Second Read, the Steering Committee shall debate the resolution and may propose amendments in an open meeting. Non-steering members present may debate and propose amendments as well.
    2. After debate, the Steering Committee will vote on any proposed amendments and may adopt them by majority vote. Non-steering members are not permitted to vote on amendments in the Second Read, as only Steering members can vote during the Steering Committee meeting. The Steering Committee may adopt amendments to a resolution with or without the sponsor’s approval. If the Steering Committee adopts an amendment without the sponsor’s approval, the sponsor retains the right to put forth their original resolution alongside the Steering-amended resolution in the Third Read.
      1. If the sponsor exercises this right, both resolutions shall be put to a debate and vote at the next GBM. The proposal, with the highest number of votes at the GBM will be adopted, as long as it has at least majority support of the general body.
    3. The Steering Committee is not empowered to place a resolution on hold and prevent a resolution from being sent to the Third Read. All resolutions are automatically sent to the Third Read after being properly considered in the Second Read. If a resolution isn’t given a Second Read between GBMs, the resolution is exempt from the Second Read and is sent to the Third Read.
    4. If a resolution has unanimous support of the Steering Committee, the resolution may be put on the consent agenda for the next GBM.
      1. Resolutions placed on the consent agenda are not subject to debate and are adopted by unanimous consent at the GBM.
      2. Any resolution may be taken off the consent agenda by the objection of any one member in good standing.
  3. Third Read: Final Debate, Amendment, and Vote: The purpose of the third read is to take a final vote on any resolution.
    1. Resolutions in the third read shall be put to a formal debate and final vote. Rules regarding deliberation shall follow the standard rules of order and any special rules of order adopted by the general body.
    2. Resolutions cannot be amended from the floor in the third read.
      1. The general body can suspend this rule by a ⅔ vote to consider an amendment from the floor. If suspended, the amendment requires a majority vote for adoption.
  4. Amendments to resolutions in the third read must be submitted in advance, no later than 72 hours of the GBM of when it is to be considered. Amendments submitted in advance require a majority vote for adoption.
  5. Exceptions
    1. Any resolution may bypass the first and second reading if it’s considered an Emergency Resolution. To be considered an emergency resolution, the content and purpose of the resolution must be time-sensitive and of crucial importance that warrant the skipping of a one-month consideration period for a resolution. A 2/3rd vote of the Steering Committee or 3/4th vote of a General Body is required to deem a resolution an Emergency Resolution. Emergency Resolutions will follow the regular rules of order required for adoption by the General Body: a majority vote or 2/3rd vote depending on the type of resolution.
    2. Statements that are adopted by the Steering Committee are exempt to the third reading at the general body meeting. This includes, but not limited to, Statements of Support, Statements of Solidarity, or Joining onto a Coalition Statement.
  6. The Secretary is responsible for making sure that a resolution is not a duplicative of a previous resolution adopted by the Chapter.
  7. The Steering Committee shall determine if a resolution is necessary to conduct the proposed action and that it meets the required resolution criteria. (See “Definition”)
  8. Any resolution may be rescinded or amended by a majority vote of the general body with previous notice.
A25.1: Against the Restriction of Voting Rights and Inappropriate Authority to Leadership Bodies
Sponsors: Ryan Mosgrove
Co-Sponsors: Nate S., Franklin Roberts, Meredith Schafer

Internal democracy functions best when we extend the most freedom to rank-and-file members to determine for themselves the direction of their organization. While I appreciate the spirit of this proposal and support elements of it that give members more information to make decisions, there are components of this proposal that I believe are wholly antithetical to that goal.

In short, Amendment 25 as currently written dramatically restricts the rights of the membership in what may even be debated at General Body Meetings and hands unprecedented authority over to the Steering Committee to control what the membership is even allowed to consider. It is a dramatic departure from the norms and precedents of MDCDSA or of any DSA chapter in the country.

The idea of the “Three Reader” system itself is a good one and worth consideration. However, this specific proposal has many problems attached to it that are not substantive to the stated goal of the proposal. I have two specific areas of concern for with A25 as currently written:

1. Dramatically restricting the rights of the rank-and-file membership.

The first part of the proposal attempts to reframe what the rank-and-file membership is allowed to consider and places the Steering Committee as the arbiter of enforcing those restrictions. Section B of this article reads:

The following items of business do not require a resolution, and shall be not be considered by the general body: A) creation of working groups (see “Working Groups”); B) creation of caucuses (see “Caucuses”); C) commitment to work on a particular issue; D) commitment to participate in a day(s) of action; E) support for politicians (U.S. or otherwise); and F) support for federal, state, or municipal legislation without action required.

Point A and B are superfluous since our bylaws already affirm that the general body does not have the power to create working groups or caucuses. Point C-F are totally new restrictions that have never been applied in the past at MDCDSA GBMs nor are they anything to my knowledge that rank-and-file members have expressed a desire for.

Put simply Point C-F would abolish the right of rank-and-file members to vote on anything that declares a commitment to an area of work, work in support or opposition to any policy or candidate, or to support as a chapter any activity with current or potential coalition partners. A25 instead limits such support to the most abstract form of taking a “stance” but restricts the general membership from discussing any specific tactic or course of action. Regardless of whether this is the authors’ intention or not, this is unambiguously the effect.

Whether it’s a day of action to block Brett Kavanaugh’s supreme court appointment, supporting the repeal of SESTA/FOSTA, activity to support national legislation like Medicare for All, or establishing housing justice or immigrant rights as a chapter-wide priority, A25 would rule such proposals out of order before they even hit the floor.

What it does instead is give this power to every chapter body except the General Membership, which is intended to be the highest authority in the chapter (for good reason!) This means that an electoral working group could simply coordinate support for candidates on its own strength, not requiring rank-and-file input at all. An anti-fascist working group could endorse and coordinate its own actions in the name of the membership, again with no input or oversight needed. A Medicare for All working group could endorse a march on washington without any debate required or even possible. Two working groups could even support opposing activity, making the entire point of being in a single organization with an internal democratic culture pointless. Giving the rank-and-file only the power to have politics in the abstract is meaningless. Politics only exist in motion, in action not theory.

Most concerning, while it restricts the rights of the general membership to make such decisions, it does not restrict it on the part of the Steering Committee. This means that the Steering Committee could potentially make these types of critical political decisions on its own weight alone. Indeed if the general membership is handcuffed from even hearing such motions then an activist Steering Committee with the authority to support or deny such proposals would be the only way to support initiatives as a whole chapter.

2. Tipping the scales in favor of the Steering Committee to determine the political direction of the chapter.

Even without the “Definitions” section of the proposal, A25 still puts a thumb on the scale in favor of the Steering Committee. The “Process” article, Section 2, Subsection B reads:

After debate, the Steering Committee will vote on any proposed amendments and may adopt them by majority vote. Non-steering members are not permitted to vote on amendments in the Second Read, as only Steering members can vote during the Steering Committee meeting. The Steering Committee may adopt amendments to a resolution with or without the sponsor’s approval. If the Steering Committee adopts an amendment without the sponsor’s approval, the sponsor retains the right to put forth their original resolution alongside the Steering-amended resolution in the Third Read…If the sponsor exercises this right, both resolutions shall be put to a debate and vote at the next GBM.

This language, along with other language throughout the proposal, gives the Steering Committee a clear edge over any proposal that comes to the floor for discussion and cedes an inappropriate amount of authority to the Steering Committee over the deliberative process. The effect would mean that if a rank-and-file member brings a proposal to the chapter, Steering would automatically get the opportunity to change the proposal as they see fit by a simple majority vote “with or without the sponsor’s approval”.

If the sponsor does not agree with the changes, then they have to go head to head against the Steering Committee at the general body meeting. The problems with this sort of system should be self evident. An enshrined authority of the leadership to pick its own battles, to influence the terms of debate, coupled with the authority they already have to set the agenda and logistics of the meetings creates an undesirable burden on rank-and-file members to exercise their democratic rights. This added weight given to the Steering Committee is reinforced in other sections of the proposal which I have also proposed amendments.

I should point out that none of this should be interpreted as an attack on the current Steering Committee in any way. Personally I have heard Steering Committee members speak against this sort of authority being given to them (though not regarding this specific proposal) which I feel is to their credit. This amendment is only intended to highlight the potential abuses imbedded within A25 if left unamended.

Moreover it is not my position that leadership bodies or working groups should never be allowed any authority whatsoever under any circumstances. Giving smaller authoritative bodies the power to weigh in or direct certain types of work in the chapter can be very positive. However the specific language of this proposal does that in a way that I feel oversteps on the rights of members to organize for, and consider proposals as they see fit. I think that’s a red line that should not be crossed if we want to preserve and grow democratic engagement in our chapter, rather than suffer the atrophy other less democratic organizations have suffered by restricting decision making to small subgroups.

My amendment to A25 makes no new additions to the proposal and only cuts language that I feel restricts the rights of the rank-and-file membership for the reasons I have listed. I should also mention that I have personally raised my concerns with the proposals authors either directly or indirectly before submitting this amendment. I also offered to collaborate on a second draft that would merge the best elements of this proposal with my own proposal on Extended Discussion and Absentee Voting for the chapter. I offer this amendment in that same spirit of good faith.

There is a good reason that every DSA chapter in the country, even our national constitution, establishes the assembly of the membership as the highest authority in the organization. Broad majoritarian decision making is critical to the life of any organization that works toward the emancipation of the disempowered, disenfranchised masses of working people in this country and the world. Democracy is not a static force that either exists or doesn’t. Democracy is a muscle, and if we want it to be strong we have to exercise it in the broadest, most accessible, most inclusive ways we can without sacrificing the integrity of that decision making process. Enfranchising all members, without the barriers of activity levels or purity tests, is the surest path to a real mass organization able to exercise mass power not in the name of working people, but by working people themselves.

(a). Adding section entitled RESOLUTIONS


Definition

    1. Resolutions may be adopted by the the General Body at any scheduled general body meeting. Resolutions shall require a rationale, a statement of purpose in the form of Whereas clauses, and the action(s) to be taken by the Chapter in the form of Be It Resolved clauses.
  • Resolutions shall pertain to the following: A) fiduciary matters (finances, expenditures, reimbursements); B) chapter statements including, but limited to, on events, stances, and politics; C) joining coalitions; D) endorsement of candidates for public office; E) appointments to committees; and F) dissolution of the chapter (see “Dissolution”).
  • The following items of business do not require a resolution, and shall be not be considered by the general body: A) creation of working groups (see “Working Groups”); B) creation of caucuses (see “Caucuses”); C) commitment to work on a particular issue; D) commitment to participate in a day(s) of action; E) support for politicians (U.S. or otherwise); and F) support for federal, state, or municipal legislation without action required.

Process

All resolutions considered by the general body shall be put to the following process:

    1. First Read: Introduction to General Body & Solicit Feedback: The purpose of the first read is to introduce a resolution concept to the general body and respond to questions.
      1. A resolution shall be put to a first read at a General Body Meeting. Any member in good standing may introduce a resolution, so long as they meet the required definitions of a resolution.
      2. Members may ask clarifying questions about the introduced resolution, but may not propose amendments, move to a final debate, or vote on the resolution at its first read.
    2. Second Read: Steering Review & Amendments: The purpose of the second read is to provide the Steering Committee and interested members an opportunity to make any changes to the resolution before a final vote.
      1. At the Second Read, the Steering Committee shall debate the resolution and may propose amendments in an open meeting. Non-steering members present may debate and propose amendments as well.
  • After debate, the Steering Committee will vote on any proposed amendments and may adopt them by majority vote. Non-steering members are not permitted to vote on amendments in the Second Read, as only Steering members can vote during the Steering Committee meeting. The Steering Committee may adopt amendments to a resolution with or without the sponsor’s approval. If the Steering Committee adopts an amendment without the sponsor’s approval, the sponsor retains the right to put forth their original resolution alongside the Steering-amended resolution in the Third Read.
  1. If the sponsor exercises this right, both resolutions shall be put to a debate and vote at the next GBM. The proposal, with the highest number of votes at the GBM will be adopted, as long as it has at least majority support of the general body.
      1. The Steering Committee is not empowered to place a resolution on hold and prevent a resolution from being sent to the Third Read. All resolutions are automatically sent to the Third Read after being properly considered in the Second Read. If a resolution isn’t given a Second Read between GBMs, the resolution is exempt from the Second Read and is sent to the Third Read.
  • If a resolution has unanimous support of the Steering Committee, the resolution may be put on the consent agenda for the next GBM.
  1. Resolutions placed on the consent agenda are not subject to debate and are adopted by unanimous consent at the GBM.
  2. Any resolution may be taken off the consent agenda by the objection of any one member in good standing.
    1.  
    2. Third Read: Final Debate, Amendment, and Vote: The purpose of the third read is to take a final vote on any resolution.
      1. Resolutions in the third read shall be put to a formal debate and final vote. Rules regarding deliberation shall follow the standard rules of order and any special rules of order adopted by the general body.
  • Resolutions cannot be amended from the floor in the third read.
  1. The general body can suspend this rule by a ⅔ vote to consider an amendment from the floor. If suspended, the amendment requires a majority vote for adoption.
  • Amendments to resolutions in the third read must be submitted in advance, no later than 72 hours of the GBM of when it is to be considered. Amendments submitted in advance require a majority vote for adoption.
    1. Exceptions
      1. Any resolution may bypass the first and second reading if it’s considered an Emergency Resolution. To be considered an emergency resolution, the content and purpose of the resolution must be time-sensitive and of crucial importance that warrant the skipping of a one-month consideration period for a resolution. A 2/3rd vote of the Steering Committee or 3/4th vote of a General Body is required to deem a resolution an Emergency Resolution. Emergency Resolutions will follow the regular rules of order required for adoption by the General Body: a majority vote or 2/3rd vote depending on the type of resolution.
  • Statements that are adopted by the Steering Committee are exempt to the third reading at the general body meeting. This includes, but not limited to, Statements of Support, Statements of Solidarity, or Joining onto a Coalition Statement.
  • The Secretary is responsible for making sure that a resolution is not a duplicative of a previous resolution adopted by the Chapter.
  • The Steering Committee shall determine if a resolution is necessary to conduct the proposed action and that it meets the required resolution criteria. (See “Definition”)
  1. Any resolution may be rescinded or amended by a majority vote of the general body with previous notice.
A25.2: Introduction at Any Meeting Type
Sponsors: Walker Green
Co-Sponsors: Francesco R., Brian D.

Given the plethora of proposals concerning the frequency of General Body Meetings (voting meetings), this language ensures that resolutions can be “first-read” at any formally called meeting of the General Body, including General Body Meetings, Special Meetings, Informational Meetings, Strategy Forums, Voting Meetings, and Non-Voting Meetings. This does not include smaller chapter formation meetings such as Working Group, Caucus, or Committee meetings.

(a). Amending A25


Process
All resolutions considered by the general body shall be put to the following process:
  1. First Read: Introduction to General Body & Solicit Feedback: The purpose of the first read is to introduce a resolution concept to the general body and respond to questions.
    1. A resolution shall be put to a first read at a General Body Meeting any formally called meeting of the General Body, including General Body Meetings (voting meetings), Informational Meetings (non-voting meetings), Special Meetings, Strategy Forums, and Local Conventions. Any member in good standing may introduce a resolution, so long as they meet the required definitions of a resolution.
    2. Members may ask clarifying questions about the introduced resolution, but may not propose amendments, move to a final debate, or vote on the resolution at its first read.
A26: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates
Sponsors: Kim Lehmkuhl, Francesco R., Aaron M., Arjun Comar
Co-Sponsors: Brian D., Becca Thimmesch, Matthew Sampson, Michelle Styczynski, Margaret McLaughlin, Zachary Eldredge, Allison Hrabar
Updated:September 30, 2018 — Friendly Amendment A26.2 (Updates to Categories and Listed Organizations) by Arjun Comar

A26: Candidates endorsed by MDC DSA should understand that accepting the endorsement comes with certain duties and obligations to the chapter’s goals and objectives, so when a candidate contravenes those goals they should lose the chapter’s endorsement. This proposal creates a clear red line that candidates cannot cross while continuing to expect the endorsement of, and material aid from, the chapter in their electoral campaign. The goal is to establish a set of commitments made by the candidate to the chapter when seeking our endorsement such that when the candidate violates those commitments, they immediately sever ties between the chapter and their campaign. By doing so, the chapter makes it clear to candidates that the relationship with the chapter does not go one way and that the candidate has obligations to the chapter, namely to uphold basic and uncontroversial socialist positions. This amendment does not bar a candidate from reseeking endorsement nor does it establish any positive duties for candidates. The amendment seeks to discourage candidates who cannot abide these restrictions from seeking endorsement in the first place. In an ideal world, this bylaw would never be invoked. In the event of disagreements about the factual basis for invoking this amendment, the General Body retains the power to make a factual determination.

A26.2: Based on feedback, we’re updating the list of barred organizations and categories of duties and obligations.

(a). Amending section entitled ELECTORAL ENDORSEMENTS


The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting. Members of the chapter shall not be empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of any candidate, except that such candidate has been endorsed by MDC DSA or DSA National.


Section 1: Endorsement

The General Body shall…

Section 2: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates

By accepting the endorsement of MDC DSA, the endorsee agrees that they will adhere to all of the following duties and obligations:

  1. The endorsee agrees that Black lives matter and will consequently reject endorsements from white supremacist organizations including labor, fraternal, or other organizations whose mission is primarily to organize and represent the police or corrections staff, including, but not limited to, all Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) branches, Maryland Law Enforcement Officers (MLEO), Inc., the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA), Police Associations, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), all branches of the Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Associations, the Police Benevolent Association, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and the Correction Officer Union.
  2. The endorsee stands in solidarity with colonized peoples and will consequently reject endorsements from Zionist organizations, including but not limited to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Jewish Defense League (JDL), Hadassah, J-Street, and Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
  3. The endorsee opposes imperialism and embraces internationalism and will consequently reject corporate funding from businesses, institutions, or advocacy organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, whose primary purpose is war profiteering including, but not limited to, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, General Dynamics, Honeywell International Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Raytheon Company.
  4. The endorsee seeks to represent the working class and will consequently reject corporate funding from businesses, institutions, or advocacy organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, whose primary purpose is wealth extraction, resource extraction, or real estate development, including, but not limited to, Wells Fargo, Amazon, the National Restaurant Association, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Dominion Energy, Exelon, Paloma Partners, Soros Fund Management, Blackstone Group, and the Association for Commercial Real Estate.
  5. The endorsee wishes to be a voice for the marginalized and so shall refrain from hate-speech, including, but not limited to, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and ableism, or harassment.
  6. The endorsee supports healthcare for all and so, recognizing reproductive healthcare as healthcare, will reject endorsements and funding from anti-abortion groups, including, but not limited to, American Right to Life, Americans United for Life, National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Concerned Women for America, Democrats for Life, Students for Life of America, and Focus on the Family.
Failure to uphold these duties and obligations shall serve to automatically rescind the chapter’s endorsement, and members of the chapter are therefore not empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of the candidate, per MDC DSA bylaws. Endorsed candidates who no longer intend to fulfill these duties and obligations shall submit in writing a statement of their intent to terminate their chapter endorsement. In the event of disagreements about the basis for invoking this bylaw, the General Body retains the power to make a factual determination by a majority vote.
A26.1: Resolution Based Process to Establish Duties and Obligations
Sponsors: Arjun Comar
Co-Sponsors:

Based on feedback, I’d like to introduce an alternative to A26 that includes a resolution based process to add and remove both categories and specific examples of duties and obligations that candidates that seek our endorsement must uphold.

(a). Amending A26: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates


Section 1: Endorsement

The General Body shall…

Section 2: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates

By accepting the endorsement of MDC DSA, the endorsee agrees that they will adhere to all of the following duties and obligations:
  1. The endorsee agrees that Black lives matter and so will reject endorsements from white supremacist organizations including labor, fraternal, or other organizations whose mission is primarily to organize and represent the police, including, but not limited to, all Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) branches, Maryland Law Enforcement Officers (MLEO), Inc., the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA), Police Associations, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), all branches of the Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Associations, the Police Benevolent Association, and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
  2. The endorsee stands in solidarity with colonized peoples and so will reject endorsements from Zionist organizations, including but not limited to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Jewish Defense League (JDL), Hadassah, and J-Street.
  3. The endorsee seeks to represent the working class and so will reject corporate funding from businesses, institutions, or advocacy organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, whose primary purpose is wealth extraction, resource extraction, or real estate development, including, but not limited to, Wells Fargo, Amazon, the National Restaurant Association, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Paloma Partners, Soros Fund Management, Blackstone Group, and the Association for Commercial Real Estate.
  4. The endorsee wishes to be a voice for the marginalized and so shall refrain from hate-speech, including, but not limited to, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and ableism, or harassment.
  5. The endorsee supports healthcare for all and so, recognizing reproductive healthcare as healthcare, will reject endorsements and funding from anti-abortion groups, including, but not limited to, American Right to Life, Americans United for Life, National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Concerned Women for America, Democrats for Life, Students for Life of America, and Focus on the Family.
Failure to uphold these duties and obligations shall serve to automatically rescind the chapter’s endorsement, and members of the chapter are therefore not empowered to campaign as representatives of MDC DSA or its formations on behalf of the candidate, per MDC DSA bylaws. Endorsed candidates who no longer intend to fulfill these duties and obligations shall submit in writing a statement of their intent to terminate their chapter endorsement. In the event of disagreements about the basis for invoking this bylaw, the General Body retains the power to make a factual determination by a majority vote.

Section 1: Endorsement

The General Body shall…

Section 2: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates

By accepting the endorsement…

Section 3: Modifications to the Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates

The specific duties and obligations a candidate must uphold may be established by resolution of the General Body. A list of duties and obligations passed by resolution of the General Body supersedes the list of duties and obligations established when this bylaw was adopted. When the General Body votes to amend the list of duties and obligations, the list in section 2 must be updated accordingly in all places where the bylaws are published. Any list of duties and obligations so amended may again be amended in the future by another resolution of the General Body.

Failure to uphold…

A27: Implement Required Local Suspension and Expulsion Procedures
Sponsors: Kim Lehmkuhl, Allison Hrabar
Co-Sponsors: Matthew Sampson, Francesco R., Margaret McLaughlin, Liz G.

Section 3(c)(iii)(2) of Resolution #33 (Harassment Policy and Grievance Process) passed at the 2017 DSA Convention requires that “Local chapters that lack [suspension and expulsion] procedures shall have suspension and expulsion procedures in place by July 1, 2018.”

Until such date that MDC DSA adopts local suspension and expulsion procedures, section 3(c)(iii) requires MDC DSA to operate under “the procedures outlined in Article III, Section 4 of the DSA Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of DSA bylaws,” which read as follows:

Article III, Section 4 of the DSA Constitution:
Members may be expelled by either the National or Local organization. For a member to be expelled nationally, two-thirds vote of the National Political Committee shall be necessary. Criteria for expulsion are prescribed in the Bylaws. Decisions on expulsion by either the Local or National Organization may be appealed to the National Convention.

Article I, Section 3 of DSA bylaws:
Members can be expelled if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization or if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior or if they are under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization. Members facing expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them and must be given the opportunity to be heard before the NPC or a subcommittee thereof, appointed for the purpose of considering expulsion.

This bylaw amendment adopts a version of the two DSA provisions above, modified to comport with the MDC DSA’s existing code of conduct.

Section 3(c)(ii) of Resolution 33 requires that when a local chapter establishes suspension or expulsion procedures, its “Steering Committee is authorized to enforce these remedies and penalties in accordance with those procedures.”

(a). Amending section entitled CODE OF CONDUCT


Code of Conduct

MDC DSA members are expected to conduct oneself with civility and respect towards all other members. Unacceptable member behavior includes: creating an intimidating, offensive, and/or abusive environment for other members; engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior; engaging in any actions detrimental to the purpose or values of the organization. If a member’s conduct is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, they will be subject to disciplinary action that may include suspension and/or expulsion from MDC DSA, in accordance with MDC DSA bylaws and policy.


Code of Conduct

MDC DSA members are expected to conduct oneself with civility and respect towards all other members. Unacceptable member behavior includes: creating an intimidating, offensive, and/or abusive environment for other members; engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior; engaging in any actions detrimental to the purpose or values of the organization.

Suspension and Expulsion

If a member’s conduct is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, they will be subject to disciplinary action that may include suspension and/or expulsion from MDC DSA, in accordance with MDC DSA bylaws and policy. Members facing suspension or expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them and must be given the opportunity to be heard before the Steering Committee. For a member to be suspended or expelled from MDC DSA, a two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee shall be necessary. Decisions on expulsion by the Steering Committee may be appealed to the National Convention.

Proposals – Resolutions

[+] Expand All Proposals
R1: Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA
Sponsors: Craig T., Francesco R., Michelle S.
Co-Sponsors: Danny Turkel, Kim Lehmkuhl, Elizabeth Stafford, Matthew Sampson, Doug T., Brian D., Chris Lindstrom

WHEREAS, white supremacy was enshrined in the creation of the United States of America,

WHEREAS, fascism has been an ever-present force in this country and has become increasingly normalized since the 2016 presidential election,

WHEREAS, fascists in the United States are now openly organizing and being recruited into and from the police and armed forces,

WHEREAS, fascists in the United States killed Heather Heyer on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA, have killed others elsewhere, and will likely kill again,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,

  1. That Metro DC DSA recognizes the need for a diversity of tactics to defeat fascism;
  2. That Metro DC DSA emphasizes safety in all organized antifascist actions;
  3. That Metro DC DSA acknowledges that building coalitions with organizations and individuals across the left is an effective strategy to defeat fascism
R2: Resolution to Endorse David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large
Sponsors: David Schwartzman
Co-Sponsors:


Please note: Per the chapter’s standing rules, all members in good standing have the right to vote on endorsement resolution R2 regardless of whether they register to vote at the Convention. If you will not be able to attend the Convention, you may cast an absentee ballot for R2 only until Friday, October 12, 2018 at 11:59pm Eastern.

WHEREAS, David Schwartzman is campaigning on a platform to empower working class District residents by establishing a DC public bank, raising the state tax rate on DC’s highest earners to offset the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy, and fighting to implement Initiative 77 and Paid Family Leave here in the District;

WHEREAS, David Schwartzman has been a resident of Washington, DC, since 1977 and he has previously run for public office in DC in 1998, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014;

WHEREAS, David Schwartzman’s full campaign platform can found on his website here; and

WHEREAS, David Schwartzman’s candidate questionnaire is available here.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,

  1. That Metro DC DSA urges DC voters on November 6 to cast one of their two votes for DC Council At-Large to David Schwartzman, candidate of the DC Statehood Green Party.
  2. That Metro DC DSA urges members to join DSA Member David Schwartzman’s campaign as volunteers to get this DSA member on the DC Council to use his office to legislate and organize for a more just community.
R3: Mandatory Endorsement Questions
Sponsors: Brian D., Arjun Comar
Co-Sponsors: Walker Green, Kim Lehmkuhl, Francesco R., Michelle Styczynski, Doug T.

WHEREAS, it is imperative for the Chapter to have an in-depth accounting of a candidate’s views prior to an endorsement vote;

WHEREAS, the Chapter must know whether a candidate will stand in solidarity with us for the goal of socialism;

WHEREAS, a non-robust accounting of potential endorsement candidates’ views can allow a candidate with views contrary to a socialist organization to deceitfully gain endorsement;

WHEREAS, not all candidates for endorsement have presented an full accounting of their views and stances to the Chapter prior to an endorsement vote;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT candidates seeking the endorsement of Metro DC DSA shall be required to fill out an endorsement questionnaire providing a full accounting of their views and stances in relation to the socialist cause. This questionnaire will be developed by a body of the general body’s choosing. The questionnaire shall contain, but not be limited to, the following questions:

  1. Does the candidate stand for sanctuary for all and reject endorsement from organizations involved in immigration enforcement and incarceration. Will the candidate support the call for unconditional abolition of ICE?
  2. Will the candidate commit to anti-imperialist ideals, standing in solidarity with workers throughout the world harmed by US imperialist policies and reject endorsements from defense contractors? Will the candidate oppose all interventions and aggressions on foreign soil?
  3. Does the candidate stand in solidarity with colonized peoples and reject endorsements from Zionist organizations? Will the candidate support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and support the call for liberation of the Palestinian people?
  4. Does the candidate agree that Black lives matter and reject endorsements from white supremacist organizations including labor, fraternal, or other organizations whose mission is primarily to organize and represent the police? Does the candidate support the abolition of the policing institution as we know it, leading to demilitarization of law enforcement, direct democratic control of local, state, and federal law enforcement institutions, as well as the institution of a justice system based on restorative justice? Does the candidate support ending prison slavery and drug prohibition, with a commitment to reparations to Black individuals and communities based on the disproportionate harm these institutions have caused?
  5. Does the candidate seek to represent the working class and reject corporate funding from businesses, institutions, or advocacy organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, whose primary purpose is wealth extraction, resource extraction, or real estate development? In support of the working class, does the candidate support public housing, the Fight for 15, the abolition of the tipped sub-minimum wage, and a UBI/jobs guarantee?
  6. Does the candidate support healthcare for all, recognize that healthcare for all applies to the full range of medical treatments often denied to the LGBTQIA+ community, recognize the full range of reproductive healthcare as healthcare, and reject endorsements or funding from anti-abortion groups? Will the candidate support the movement for Medicare for All as a first step towards nationalization and public control of the health industry?
  7. Does the candidate identify as a socialist? If so, how does the candidate envision using elected office to work towards socialism?
  8. Does the candidate support the rights of sex workers, support decriminalization of sex work, and reject the endorsements of organizations opposed to sex workers?
  9. Does the candidate oppose the continued privatization of public education and stand for full funding and teacher-leadership of public schools policy-making?
  10. Does the candidate support greater worker control of the economy? If so, how?
  11. Does the candidate recognize the threat of impending climate change and the necessity of open borders to accommodate the upheaval it will cause?
  12. Does the candidate acknowledge the crimes of colonization on First Nations people and support reparations and return to ancestral lands for their communities?
  13. Does the candidate support the unconditional right to form a union, card check, and oppose the Janus vs. AFSCME decision and right to work legislation?

Public Statements

[+] Expand All Proposals


Members may submit public statements in favor, in opposition, or anywhere in between, on any of the proposed bylaw amendments and resolutions. The Local Convention Working Group hopes that this will foster internal democracy and comradely debate in advance, so members will have the opportunity to hear from all points of views before casting their vote. (Shoutout to East Bay DSA for this idea!)

S1: In favor of R2 (Resolution to Endorse David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large)
Signed: Bob Guldin

I’ve seen David S. in action for many years. I believe he’s a staunch, dedicated radical activist.

S2: Against R1 (Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA)
Signed: Joshua Makela

What is the practical purpose of this resolution? The masked nature of Antifa is supposed to provide anonymity, so I’m not sure why we’re giving it a blanket endorsement as a public-facing organization.

As far as the effect it will have on our role in the wider conversation, the resolution may as well have been written by James O’Keefe himself; moderates will jump on it as an excuse to exclude us. There are a handful of documented cases of arguably excessive force against unaffiliated civilians by members of black bloc across the country in the last couple years that I am personally not comfortable defending.

We need to pick our battles with the center-left carefully, and in this case we’re putting a target on our back for a measure that will yield nothing of value for us or for working people more broadly. Antifa can organize just fine independently from DSA.

S3: A Red Line for Democratic Socialists. In favor of A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) & R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Arjun Comar, Francesco R., Kim Lehmkuhl, Matthew Sampson, Margaret McLaughlin, Brian Dickey, Michelle Styczynski, Zach Eldredge, Tom M., Aaron M., Saurav Sarkar, Max Socol, Danny Turkel, Greg Dwyer, Becca Thimmesch, Ivan Lau

A Red Line for Democratic Socialists

Reaching hearts and minds requires, first, that we be clearly heard. But when people hear us, what are we actually communicating to them? Do we take care to align our words with our actions? Can our public statements be relied upon, taken as commitments to live our stated values even — or especially — when it’s difficult? Or are they more realistically understood as lofty rhetoric, a performative solidarity readily disregarded when it’s politically expedient to do so?

We publicly claim to stand in solidarity with Black people, in particular, in the struggle to abolish police and prisons. Abolitionist resolutions have been democratically adopted at both the local and national levels of our organization. And yet somehow a Metro DC DSA-endorsed candidate (and DSA member), Marc Elrich, saw no problem with accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 this past spring.

The FOP is one of the most notorious defenders of police brutality in the United States today. Often mischaracterized as a police “union”, the FOP was created to uphold the primary state institution of white supremacist violence, and as such is an organization whose very existence is antithetical to our goals as socialists. The rejection of police endorsements is one very modest step of the many that are needed to achieve a world without police and prisons.

When we urged Elrich to reject the FOP’s endorsement, which he was under no obligation to accept in the first place, he refused. The chapter passed a resolution to censure Elrich by majority vote, after a vote to rescind his endorsement outright failed to garner the required ⅔ support. We now find ourselves in the position of having voted to talk out of both sides of our mouths, pretending nobody will notice.

Elrich’s campaign suffered no material consequences as a result of our double-talk; it’s our already tenuous relationships with Black socialist organizers in the DMV — and elsewhere in DSA — that we’ve decided should bear the brunt of our equivocation.

We have breached any trust we had, in particular, with organizers at BYP100, an expressly abolitionist organization that helps lead coalition efforts we participate in to decriminalize sex work in the District of Columbia; planning is now underway to expand that coalition work to pass fare evasion decriminalization legislation. BYP100 partners with us in another coalition to stop MPD’s deadly “counterterrorism” exchanges with the Israeli military and police. BYP100 also developed the Agenda to Build Black Futures, which we adopted at DSA’s 2017 National Convention. Our Steering Committee recently participated in mediation with BYP100 specifically on how difficult the Elrich endorsement makes it to work with MDC DSA on any issues regarding the police, and on the need for assurances that another Elrich cannot happen.

We frankly cannot continue to function as a chapter if we refuse to hold ourselves accountable to our stated values, if our word cannot be trusted. When push comes to shove — and it always will — are we socialists or liberals? Who all are we deciding are disposable — or too marginalized to do us much damage when we treat them badly — when we betray our convictions and accede to power at the slightest provocation? How can we expect to be heard — or engaged with at all — if we refuse to acknowledge that we have a credibility problem?

If the General Body wants to contravene the stated mission and values of the chapter and the national organization, as contained in both our bylaws and democratically adopted resolutions, it should have to seek to do so directly via amendment to the underlying provision(s) — not through the back door of an incompatible electoral endorsement. Such an endorsement should be invalid on its face. A properly made endorsement, as in the case of Marc Elrich, should likewise be invalidated on its face in the event that the candidate chooses to violate our stated mission and values and refuses to repair the breach.

Any argument that “democracy” requires the General Body to freely vote to violate its prior decisions without taking any action to amend those prior decisions is nonsensical, and intimates that all democratically adopted resolutions at both the local and national level are ultimately worthless. If the body at any time would like to amend or rescind any of its previously adopted provisions identifying the police, and their organizing units, as violent agents of white supremacy and calling for abolition, it has the power to do so. It is neither “anti-democratic” nor “democratic centralism” to hold the General Body to the letter and spirit of the provisions it has itself democratically adopted.

While it is true that passing a resolution calling for police abolition doesn’t mean that every member of DSA individually holds the same beliefs about police at that moment, it does mean political education resources exist and that evolving views are both possible and encouraged. It also seems noncontroversial to state clearly for the record that candidates seeking our endorsement, i.e. people who are asking to represent our organization to the public, should be held to a higher standard than the average rank-and-file member when it comes to having a fully fleshed-out socialist platform.

Any argument that democratically adopted resolutions can safely be ignored because DSA is a “multi-tendency organization” is also fanciful; the tent is deliberately not so big that we welcome all comers. If a candidate who opposed single payer healthcare sought our endorsement, for example, we certainly would not give it to them, whether or not they called themselves a “socialist.” We should not endorse a candidate merely because they are less harmful than their (likely gruesome) Republican opponent — though it is true that some individual members do conflate their voting preference with a false sense of urgency to organizationally endorse their preferred candidate. We should, instead, endorse candidates that align, in policy and values, with the DSA as a whole.

Any candidate who does not stake their campaign on the concrete, socialist goals and values that we, as an organization, have democratically resolved to support, should seek endorsement elsewhere. There are other, full-time political action organizations, like Justice Democrats and Our Revolution, that are better suited to playing Democratic Party politics and working from within the machine to elect progressives and hold neoliberal Party elites accountable. But we, as socialists, should seek different ends. We should seek to cultivate, run, and endorse our own candidates from within, because it’s the only way to field candidates who operate from a fundamental commitment to solidarity.

It is to this end that we’ve submitted two complementary proposals to the 2018 Local Convention: A26: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates, and R3: Resolution on Mandatory Endorsement Questionnaires.

What A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) Does Not Do

We have heard several different claims about what A26 requires that are simply not true. The amendment DOES NOT:

  • Place any positive duties on endorsed candidates. It asks no candidate to DO anything. It merely urges candidates to refrain from violating the publicly stated mission and values of the endorsing organization.
    • Specifically: It does not require endorsed candidates to introduce Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) legislation if elected, or anything of the kind. The amendment merely requires candidates to refrain from accepting endorsement from Zionist or other anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian human rights organizations if they wish to retain our endorsement.
  • Incentivize outside organizations, such as the FOP, to endorse a candidate with the intention of undermining our endorsement. The amendment pertains only to third-party endorsements and corporate funding that the candidate chooses to accept. If the candidate — correctly — refuses a police endorsement or refuses donations from a barred organization, their campaign continues to enjoy the benefits of our endorsement.

If you’re not sure about what this amendment does and what passing it would imply for the chapter, we encourage you to reach out to the authors for clarification, which can then be incorporated into either the amendment’s substance or rationale as appropriate.

Further, amendment A26.1, proffered by the same authors in response to feedback from Electoral Caucus members, would allow the chapter to amend A26’s enumerated list of duties, and/or its enumerated list of barred organizations, by resolution. A26.1 would thus lower the bar for updating A26 as the organization’s politics evolve, requiring just a majority vote rather than a ⅔ vote to amend.

Finally, A26’s list of duties and obligations, as well as its list of barred organizations, has been expanded by the authors in response to feedback from Electoral Caucus members.

What A26 Does Do

The amendment is intended to ensure that candidates who seek our endorsement know they’re expected to uphold the publicly stated, democratically adopted mission and values of DSA. In an ideal world, this bylaw would never have to be invoked. When invoked, A26 makes clear the expectation that the candidate who has chosen to violate our mission and values notifies us in writing they have done so and are thus opting out of our continued endorsement.

In the event that the candidate fails to so notify us, and the General Body expresses internal disagreement as to whether the candidate has taken an endorsement-terminating action, A26 provides that the General Body retains the right to determine, by majority vote, the factual basis for invoking this bylaw. The authors believe A26 establishes a clear and minimal line that separates genuine socialists from liberals and opportunists trying to ride the coattails of DSA’s newfound popularity — and materially benefit from DSA’s substantial volunteer labor — without a fundamental commitment to solidarity.

A quick-reference guide to this amendment is that it holds endorsed candidates accountable to:

  • Not taking endorsements from police or prison officials;
  • Not taking endorsements from Zionist (anti-BDS and anti-Palestinian human rights) organizations;
  • Not taking funding from the military-industrial complex;
  • Not taking funding from corporations or their PACs;
  • Not using hate speech or engaging in harassment; and
  • Not taking endorsements or funding from anti-abortion groups.

It asks nothing further, and represents what we believe to be a rather low bar for any socialist candidate.

The amendment explicitly seeks to make unendorsement automatic whenever possible. By adopting A26, the chapter makes a commitment to itself that it will not try and hold onto candidates who have shown us they do not have any intention of representing our stated mission and values. It makes the unendorsement the status quo and requires the chapter to debate and vote only as necessary to make a determination on the underlying facts, not on whether to retain the endorsement. Individual members may, of course, choose to vote tactically, voting down the factual determination as a means to continue a bad endorsement, but A26 makes it clear that this tactical voting is discouraged by the chapter bylaws.

A26 is intended to demonstrate a good faith, binding commitment by the chapter to live up to our stated mission and values, and in doing so ensure we are capable of acting, as a chapter, in real solidarity. We owe it to ourselves, to other left organizations operating in our shared spaces, and to the broader DMV community to commit publicly to being reliable allies and accomplices, to stop communicating that we are untrustworthy and too much trouble to work with because of our equivocations on basic table stakes that other leftist organizations don’t find contentious at all. A26 asks that we mean what we say.

And so the amendment sets a red line for endorsed candidates, a line that no socialist — of any tendency — should find difficult to abide. For the sake of practicality, A26 omits enumerating other basic enemies of socialism, such as imperialism writ large, where it is difficult to name organizations or funders willing to publicly advocate for them. Likewise, A26 omits enumerating organizations that aren’t known to actively endorse or fund candidates running on the Democratic Party line. It avoids barring actions that are difficult to pin down or ascertain. It sets a line that should be easy to toe and clear to judge.

Therefore, we call on all members of the chapter to vote ‘yea’ on proposed bylaw amendment A26, and recommit MDC DSA to actually implementing the resolutions it has already democratically adopted. Let us instead recruit and run real socialists that have no difficulty with the rather low bar set by this amendment.

R3 (Resolution on Mandatory Endorsement Questionnaires)

R3 is a complementary resolution that addresses the chapter’s endorsement decision-making process on the front end. It is intended to ensure the chapter more fully vets candidates who approach us seeking endorsement, and to inform the General Body of a candidate’s views on core socialist values in more granular terms than has been the practice to date.

Where proposed bylaw amendment A26 sets a low bar and a red line to not cross, proposed resolution R3 provides a list of standardized, mandatory questions that candidates must answer in order to proceed with seeking an endorsement from the General Body. The proposed questionnaire content attempts to broadly cover the spectrum of socialist political views without stepping into any particular left tendency or ideology. These proposed questions do not seek to bar candidates from endorsements depending on their answers.

Should R3 be adopted, the authors do not feel it would resolve the specific issue A26 sets out to address: after all, any candidate may still choose to employ vague or ambiguous language in their answers to these questions. Words never speak as clearly as actions, but the questionnaire content does seek to establish a more complete picture of what a candidate thinks on policy issues that matter to the left, issues we believe address the stark reality of life for most Americans. While R3 asks candidates whether they agree not to accept endorsements from many groups, it does not bar them from doing so.

A quick-reference guide to this resolution is that it asks candidates to affirm their solidarity with all people, and their commitment to socialism, by describing their specific views on:

  • Prison and ICE abolition, police abolition and reconstitution as direct democratic organizations accountable to their communities, ending drug prohibition, defending the right of return of First Nations peoples to ancestral land, and paying reparations to the communities directly impacted by these policies;
  • Healthcare for all including for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities, reproductive justice, and nationalization of the healthcare industry;
  • Anti-imperialism, the BDS movement, and the open borders necessitated by a changing and increasingly hostile climate; and
  • Worker control of the economy, including the unconditional right to unionize, and the candidate’s own thoughts on how the economy can be socialized.

Therefore, we call on all members of the chapter to vote ‘yea’ on proposed resolution R3, and establish a standardized, mandatory, socialist basis for all electoral candidate questionnaires.

True Solidarity

Together, A26 and R3 establish some essential guard rails for the chapter’s continued engagement in electoral politics that encapsulate and reaffirm DSA’s stated mission and values. As such, their adoption will allow us to avoid continued dysfunction as a body, and work together to ensure we are consistently advocating for a new and better world.

The authors of these two proposals believe that making a clear, chapter-wide commitment to hold endorsed candidates to a minimal standard speaks much louder than any resolution that proclaims support for any particular policy position. Adopting A26 and R3 will allow us to credibly communicate that we truly stand for the interests of the many, and are not merely trying to enrich ourselves in the halls of power.

These proposals were written to help the chapter demonstrate we’re ready to act as more believable allies and accomplices of communities and groups that have historically felt slighted by our lack of conviction, the equivocation we communicate by endorsing candidates who do not support our stated positions, and the lack of integrity we broadcast when our endorsed candidates are permitted to take third-party endorsements directly contravening those positions. They confirm us to ourselves as socialists of all stripes. Vote ‘yea’ on A26 and R3.

S4: Against A8.1 (Maintain Proportionality of Steering Committee)
Signed: Andy Feeney

The idea of maintaining proportionality on the SC as our chapter grows seems democratic and inclusive, but it’s probably a recipe for the SC becoming ineffective, and it should be rejected or radically amended. The reason is that larger groups have a much harder time than smaller group do in reaching decisions. The complexities of how members can interact with one another grow much faster than the number of group members, and this makes most groups of more than 11 members extremely unwieldy. When a group has 15 or 17 or even more members, it can become almost paralyzed, with the result that either a small group of members or a paid staffer or executive director is likely to end up effectively controlling the group’s agenda and its decisions. To remain effective, our steering committee’s decision making body needs to remain limited in size. Or it needs to devolve most real decision-making to smaller committees and subcommittees, which is basically what the US Congress and many capitalist corporations do. We do want Metro DC DSA to be more democratic in spirit and in fact than Congress, but we need a structure that will guarantee that Steering Committee members aren’t overwhelmed by the number of individuals they need to deal with at each meeting.

S5: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) & in favor of R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Doug T.

In this statement, I explain why I opposed our endorsement of Marc Elrich and how that has informed my view that endorsements should be handled though debate and ideological struggle. I believe that A26, while well intentioned and motivated with a political line I tend to agree with, is a cumbersome and bureaucratic way to try to address ideological disagreements in our chapter over electoral politics.

Reflecting upon it, my support for rescinding our endorsement of Elrich had less to do with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsement itself, but that it was further proof to me that he was a poor candidate for our chapter to endorse.

Once the controversy of the FOP endorsement broke, though connections with his supporters in DSA, I reached out to his campaign manager. We had a long but comradely argument about the FOP endorsement. I walked away from it with the conclusion that Elrich saw nothing wrong with accepting the endorsement of the Montgomery County FOP, and by proxy, the existence of police and prisons as institutions. That itself wasn’t shocking to me. I never mistook him for a prison abolitionist. My ask though was for the campaign to simply stop promoting the FOP’s endorsement. I did not ask them to loudly and affirmatively come against the FOP. I don’t think you have to be a prison abolitionist to think that maybe the police are an interest group that the Left should be deeply suspicious of and shun to some degree, and that it’s politically useful to do this. We gain something by making “constructive engagement” with the police politically taboo. Reform will only come by coming into political conflict with them and reducing their legitimacy and power. The Right doesn’t try to make friends with labor unions or community organizers, they seek to alienate them, push them to the margins, and ultimately, to destroy them. But Elrich wasn’t interested in ideological things like consider what it means to welcome a FOP endorsement, he only wanted to talk policy.

Elrich has been a fixture of Montgomery County politics for years and he always struck me as just a liberal democrat. He’s not a socialist, doesn’t seem to have any real commitment to the present day DSA, or to the socialist movement in general. There’s worse things to be in this world then a liberal democrat, but I vehemently disagreed with those in MDC-DSA who thought he would be some transformational figure in Montgomery County politics. Elrich is less a Sanders and more an Elizabeth Warren. He has some progressive bonafides, but he’s self admittedly not really “ideological,” which is a red flag if there ever was one.

I know some take a hard stance against DSA endorsing any Berniecrat, but I’m open to it strategically. I supported Sanders in 2016 not because I thought he was a socialist, but because I thought his campaign would advance the cause of socialism. I think my assessment was correct. He’s good on many policy issues, but crucially, he goes further than that. Sanders intentionally differs from other Democrats in his political rhetoric, which has lots of class struggle undertones, as well his intentionally distant relationship to the Democratic Party. I think it’s impossible to deny the positive impact the Sanders campaign had on the growing comfort Americans have with the “S-word”, the rising anger with young liberals towards the Democratic Party, and the rapid, massive growth of DSA since the election. Elrich on the other hand is a bad candidate because he’s unwilling to use electoral politics in an openly ideologically way.

Having good policies is not enough. We need our candidates to be committed to changing politics as we know it.

What is my point of rehashing all of this? I think the arguments I made above are the sorts of things we should be talking about when debating endorsements. Unfortunately, the fixation on the FOP endorsement made the debate in DSA at the time turn into one about the nature of police unionism and less about Elrich the candidate. I recall a Facebook thread at the time arguing about this which at one point devolved to talking about Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg’s relationship to police unions. In Germany. A hundred years ago. It may have been then I realized this whole controversy had really gone off the rails.

I think A26 is a misguided attempt to shortcircuit the ideological struggle that needs to occur in our chapter over electoral politics. Drawing up an ever expanding, yet always incomplete, list of organizations candidates shall reject the endorsement of is not a good solution. I think its focus on endorsements as red lines seem rooted in trying to address internal and external critics of the Elrich Affair. It also misdirects the political debate away from the candidate and more toward the problematic endorsing organization. Instead, the solution should be to improve how we vet and debate candidate endorsements.

What happens if a Nationally endorsed candidate, such as a possible Sanders 2020 campaign, accepts a J-Street endorsement? Will that mean the chapter can’t work for them? Or would this bylaw not apply to them — meaning a National endorsement bypasses all local restrictions on endorsements? I think it would bode poorly for our organization if what will widely be perceived as a “gotcha” bylaw stops MDC-DSA from working with whoever is the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. Maybe we shouldn’t campaign for the Democrat in 2020? But let’s have that discussion and debate then!

More hypothetical questions: what would be our relationship to a Nation of Islam endorsement? Or that of a homophobic DC pastor who otherwise rails against social injustice and racism? Or a Catholic organization that theologically opposes abortion? Of course no such organizations are on this list now, but why not add such organizations? Are they not odious too? I point all these out to say that endorsements can come from all sorts of people and organizations that we may have serious political disagreements with. But they should be be one of many considerations we weigh in our political consideration of a given electoral candidate. I think it is unwise to draw red lines from them.

Electoral endorsements should be made though vigorous debate of the political conditions of the time — not though rules codified years ago. If it takes a bylaw to make MDC-DSA to uphold our political commitments with regard to electoral politics, then this organization has failed itself. Instead, I strongly support Resolution 3 and other reforms of the electoral endorsement process that encourage more internal debate and questioning of the candidates.

S6: Politics and Power: A Reply to “Red Line”. Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Ryan Mosgrove, Jacci Smith, Christian Bowe, Ben D., Nate S., David Shen, Jake W.

How do socialists effectively build political power? This is a core question for socialist in the current period we find ourselves in. As more and more DSA endorsed candidates win election after election in stunning upset wins against pro-capitalist Democrats, this question becomes even more pressing.

MDC DSA can be incredibly proud that its electoral organizing program was one of the opening shots across the bow. Lee Carter in Manassas, VA signalled the coming wave of victories like Summer Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Julia Salazar. These candidates have rapidly become national figures in the growing movement for democratic socialism at the ballot box.

Hundreds of thousands of working class people have turned out to vote in these elections, not so they can vote for any run of the mill Democrat, but for real progressive representation. A real socialist voice to fight with them for democratic socialist agenda in the halls of power.

An Attempt to Reverse Course

A recent statement from comrades in MDC DSA argues for a very different approach to our electoral program. Though clearly a substantial contribution to this ongoing debate, it has some considerable issues in the course it seeks to chalk out for this critical work.

A Red Line for Democratic Socialists” (along with Amendment 26 and Resolution 3) doesn’t present any models that any other DSA chapter have implemented, nor does it seem to weigh seriously the titanic impact DSA or Metro DC has made in its electoral organizing work over the last two years. It doesn’t appear to put forward any examples or cohesive positive vision for an electoral program that builds on these victories. Red Line, along with A26 and R3, only appear to highlight mistakes, problems, and red lines — focusing almost exclusively on one candidate — and doesn’t outline in any specifics how these proposals would grow electoral organizing more broadly for MDC DSA in the future.

The question of putting forward an effective strategy for electoral organizing is anything but a minor issue. This work has proven to be incredibly important to DSA’s growth and the credibility it has — not in the halls of power — but among real working class people in communities and workplaces where we seek to organize for power.

The statistics speak for themselves. From Bernie Sanders victory in the Iowa Caucus, to the handing off of the nomination by an un-democratic gang of super delegates, to Lee Carter unseating the majority whip in Virginia, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppling one of the top house Dems, to many more victories, in every instance DSA has seen tremendous spikes in membership. This growth isn’t automatic or incidental, it reflects the growing legitimacy that DSA specifically has in the eyes of thousands of working people as a serious vehicle for social change.

These events are a massive tectonic shift in the political terrain in the United States that can’t be overstated. This series of stunning victories are a massive jump forward toward building real political power for working people who so desperately need elected officials who listen to and organize alongside them. Unfortunately Red Line paints these developments as more of a setback that requires correction.

The statement highlights, correctly, the failure of our chapter to deal effectively and decisively with Marc Elrich’s enthusiastic acceptance of an endorsement from a police union and the subsequent breach of trust this caused with organizations like BYP100. Without question these are problems that must be addressed (which I will deal with in more detail). However Red Line takes this issue and pivots it in order to propose a dramatic change in our electoral organizing altogether. It seems clear that Red Line supports a specific vision for electoral organizing, and DSA generally, that is far different from that which has been pursued by the membership up until now. It is my view that that this vision is not compatible with a chapter that is dynamic, fully democratic, or capable of effectively building political power.

Red Line attempts to address some of the many issues embedded in A26 and R3, but leaves a number of problems with these proposals either unaddressed or does not address them effectively. Red Line tries to give the impression that this is just a small change to our electoral program. That it only seeks to install a “low bar” and “very modest” requirements that candidates must meet in order to seek endorsement with MDC DSA. But anyone who reads A26 can see that this isn’t true. A26 encodes into the bylaws a list of 32 groups that the authors have chosen cannot have any relationship to a candidate in order to even be eligible for an endorsement. This is not a small cosmetic change to our electoral work, this is a dramatic change of course to how our chapter or any DSA chapter anywhere goes about electoral organizing. Indeed one would be hard pressed to find any organization anywhere that goes about electoral vetting in such a way.

Despite arguments to the contrary, it’s unmistakably clear that A26 encodes a political line into our bylaws, and sets measures for discipline if candidates break from this line. The arguments for such a dramatic shift is that it is in the interest of “hold[ing] ourselves accountable to our stated values”. However Red Line seems to pick and choose which organizational commitments it feels should be binding over the membership and which should be flexible. While it highlights multiple times the resolution on prison abolition made at the 2017 convention, it makes no reference to the priority resolution regarding electoral organizing passed at that same convention and makes no attempt to frame itself as an extension of that democratically established organizational strategy.

In fact the vision of electoral organizing Red Line presents is at odds with that strategic resolution. The Electoral Strategy document passed at the convention states that, “where relevant, DSA chapters should work with post-Sanders groups such as Our Revolution (or local variations thereof), Brand New Congress, etc., to expand the anti-corporate trend in electoral politics and to develop strong coalitions with progressive groups rooted in communities of color and the feminist, LGBTQIA+, and disability movements”, while emphasising that the specific strategy should be based on local conditions.

In contrast Red Line makes it clear that it reject this broad left strategy altogether. If members do not agree that having a strict line is strategically viable then “There are other, full-time political action organizations, like Justice Democrats and Our Revolution, that are better suited to playing Democratic Party politics and working from within the machine to elect progressives and hold neoliberal Party elites accountable.” While out national strategy frames DSA and other progressive electoral programs as forming component parts of a new left political coalition, Red Line tries to present this orientation as some sort of aberration that has bled over into DSA and ought to be purged.

Pointing out that Red Line feels bound to one national resolution but not others isn’t a scarecrow argument or hair splitting. Red Line’s entire argument rests on the idea that because prison abolition was passed at the national convention then that resolution should be binding on the chapter level, and membership should be barred from taking any action that violates it. Not only is Red Line inconsistent by holding some convention resolutions as requiring fidelity while explicitly breaking from others, it is also advocating for a DSA that is the very definition of a top-down disciplined organization.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Red Line is actually quite opposed to leaving these questions to the democratic control of the membership. Indeed it makes this quite explicit stating that, “Any argument that “democracy” requires the General Body to freely vote to violate its prior decisions without taking any action to amend those prior decisions is nonsensical” and that “The amendment explicitly seeks to make unendorsement automatic whenever possible.” Red Line makes it clear that it believes members should not be allowed to vote in violation of a of nationally established line, or develop local a strategy that resonates with their own lived experiences. Under A26 these decisions are taken out of the hands of the membership and made “automatic”, setting the bar of 2/3rds majority in order to be overcome.

Red Line (along with A26 and R3) doesn’t present a clear strategy to build electoral power. It doesn’t point to any examples of similar strategies that have effectively defeated the vicious Republican agenda or effectively held Democrats accountable. Rather than build upon the resounding success of campaigns like Julia Salazar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders, it instead puts its vision in sharp contrast with these victories in exchange for an alternative strategy that, as of yet, remains undefined.

A Positive Vision for Electoral Organizing

I believe MDC DSA should instead seek to build upon the hard work of the last two years to make it more dynamic, more accountable, and exert real power over elected officials. DSA’s current electoral strategy pulls explicitly from other successful models for community powered electoral organizing, such as Richmond Progressive Alliance and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, among others. Our strategy emphasizes “an electoral model centered on organizations rather than candidates, together with deep, community-based non-electoral organizing, to build left power”.

Of course such a strategy means working closely with organizations like BYP100, as Red Line does in fact make clear. It was a clear failure of our electoral program and our chapter that it was unable to deal meaningfully with the conflict over our endorsement with Marc Elrich. If our electoral program fails to engage with organizations like BYP100 in a dialogue about community centered electoral work then it would mirror exactly what our Strategy calls the “old model” of electoral organizing. Under this model “the organization will find itself lowering its standards merely to maintain access to those in power, in the vain hope of wielding influence over the officeholder, while perpetuating the concentration of power with the leaders of the organization who can enjoy that access.” Such a model should without question or hesitation be opposed.

But the facts surrounding our past electoral work does not make A26 and R3 a comprehensive electoral strategy. We should be looking to expand and improve this work to capitalize on the remarkable moment we find ourselves in. Nor does accountability need to mean constant hostility. In 2014, when Bernie Sanders was still undecided about whether to run for President, he spoke at community meetings in multiple cities around the country. At every event he would workshop what would ultimately become his program to crowds of progressives, and consistently turned to the crowd and asked bluntly “should I run?” When Ocasio-Cortez ran for Congress, and even in the months following her victory, she would consistently underscore that she was running as part of “a movement” and that she would always work to get feedback from her community and the organizations that supported her campaign.

These dynamics mean that candidates like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are in fact incredibly vulnerable to community pressure, especially if we are able to organize deep roots in their own constituency. DSA should be working diligently to identify strategies to take advantage of this potential power. When Ocasio-Cortez equivocated on Palestinian rights, should DSA have issued a denunciation? Or should we have immediately called a meeting in the Bronx with Palestinian rights organizations in NY about the urgent need to support BDS, urging Ocasio-Cortez to join that conversation. MDC DSA’s censure of Elrich similarly appeared to have little effect. But what impact could a joint meeting of BYP100 and MDC DSA in Montgomery County have on urging Elrich to reject the FOP’s endorsement?

These methods are of course no silver bullet, but they are the sort of tactics we need to pursue if we are really going to expand and improve our electoral program, and make no mistake there is plenty to improve upon. I feel that proposals like Amendment 12, which was drafted in a dialogue with the comrades in the electoral caucus and many other comrades, show a positive way forward for making our electoral program more accountable in the future. I strongly urge comrades to read it and consider voting in favor of it.

The methods and mistakes we make today are by no means a blueprint for the future. Rather they represent an evolution of electoral organizing still in the early days of its development. There are precious few models for community centered electoral organizing out there, especially on a mass scale. But this work becomes more and more urgent by the day. The horrors of Trumpism, along side the centrism of the Democratic leadership, must be defeated if we are to have a just world that serves the majority of society. Electoral organizing is a critical component to that work. I urge comrades to vote this Sunday to strengthen that work, and not abandon it.

S7: Against R2 (Resolution to Endorse David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large)
Signed: Brian W., Brad C., Ben D. Jake W., Harry B., Nate S.

We, the undersigned, encourage members of this local to vote against Resolution 2: Endorsing David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large.

We believe that socialist engagement in electoral politics should be for the purposes of movement building or winning elections. We think that this endorsement would fail to meet either of these criteria. We do not believe that there is any realistic chance that David Schwartzman could win this election and we do not believe that this would help build a democratic socialist movement.

We have just a few weeks between the convention and election day and think that our influence on this race would be marginal at best. We are against the usage of “paper-endorsements” and believe that any electoral endorsements should be met with large scale organizing to ensure that candidates victory. We do not believe that there is any path towards mobilizing large number of DSA volunteers into this campaign.

The DC Statehood Green Party platform is inspiring and would form the basis of any future electoral coalition work that MDC DSA does in DC, unfortunately the Statehood Green Party is probably not the vehicle for this platform. We recognize that any left wing electoral challenge in DC will require building a political machine of our own, but we think these challenges may be better served on the Democratic Party ballot line or as an independent.

We admire the work of Julius Hobson, Eugene Puryear, and the countless other organizers that have put work into the organization, but caution members against voting for this endorsement.

In Solidarity,

Brian W.
Brad C.
Ben D.
Jake W.
Harry B.
Nate S.

S8: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: David Duhalde

While well intentioned, would likely decrease membership engagement by making endorsements incredibly hard to make. It is undemocratic because it takes agency away from the chapter to make case by case decisions. By this criteria, Sanders 2020 would not happen. We should debate that endorsement — not let it be settled by a bylaw.

It also undermines our multi-tendency fabric. Members would inevitably go do electoral work they could do in DSA that fits in our socialist multi-tendency culture in others groups. This is a direct (albeit probably unintentional) decrease in engagement.

Finally, it does not build power either. This would hurt our ally work (which goes beyond any one organization) — including teaming up to lobby our elected members and friends. We can use elections to build coalitions and working class power. Let’s keep our tools for mass work, not throw them away.

S9: General Statement on R1 (Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA)
Signed: Steve Ramirez

I am concerned about the insidious growth of authoritarian thought in the U.S. However, I do not limit this to exclusively “fascist” thought. I am concerned about two specific references in this proposal.

1. The statement “Whereas, fascists in the United States killed Heather Heyer…”
This is a vague blanket statement that could be interpreted to indicate that a fascist organization in a premeditated way engaged a number of persons to kill protesters that day. Yet the evidence to date indicates while there may have been many alt-right and or fascist protesters with possible intentions to engage and harm those proposing to take down the offensive statue in question, that only James Alex Fields Jr. actually acted out in a way that caused the death of Heather Heyer. In short, I think we need to avoid blanket statements and be very specific when we accuse others of malicious and life threatening acts that lead to death. So if we want to say that James Alex Fields Jr. maliciously drove his car into a crowd with the intention to do bodily harm to protesters which lead to the death of Heather Heyer, I think that would reflect better on DSA for being more accurate and get across our point more clearly. Incidentally, it also appears that Mr. Fields suffers from schizophrenia. And DSA should be careful not to fall into validating stigmas related to persons with mental disabilities.

2. “Whereas, fascists in the United States are openly organizing and being recruited into and from the police and armed forces.” Again, this statement is overly broad and vague. There are fascists in many places, and to zero in on activity to recruit in the military and police is to taint with a broad brush the military and police as particularly susceptible to recruitment, which is debatable. In fact, some of the staunchest defenders against fascism can be found in the armed forces. The same can be said of many police officers. Additionally, many police forces belong to democratic unions, so tainting them makes problematic our ongoing efforts to recruit union members when they belong to the police. This is not to deny elements of police forces that have acted in a violent or racist manner for decades. However, again, there are important elements in police forces that in fact operate to serve and protect in the communities they serve. To infer they are infested or severely infiltrated with fascist “elements” is a broad simplification of a larger societal problem, which is institutionalized racism. I would urge removal of this particular line.

S10: In favor of A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Matthew Sampson, Arjun Comar, Kim Lehmkuhl, Brian D., Michelle Styczynski, Ivan Lau, Stefan Bishop, Elizabeth Stafford, Conor Arpwel

Recently, the Steering Committee of Metro DC DSA met with BYP100 (byp100.org) in a conversation mediated by Jessica Raven (Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces). This discussion was a result of our endorsement of Marc Elrich and his subsequent acceptance and promotion of an endorsement by the local FOP. I do not want to retread past discussion, but for emphasis, here is a portion of the email that we received from a BYP100 organizer earlier in the summer that explains their position on this topic:

“To make this very clear, the FOP is a white supremacist institution — your candidate, Marc Elrich is endorsed by a white supremacist institution. If you are actually committed to being in solidarity with Black and Brown people, this is deeply unacceptable. To rectify this situation, you need to either rescind your endorsement of Elrich or have him denounce the FOP’s endorsement. If for some reason you can’t make this happen, I hope you are aware that you are jeopardizing your relationship with BYP100 and the broader Movement for Black Lives, as I will be sure to send the information about the fact that a DSA candidate supports allocating more resources to killer cops to other Black organizers in the city. Especially since 3 Black people have been killed by police in DC since this May aloneJeffery Wayne Price, D’Quan Young, and Marquis Alston — I doubt any organizer in the DMV who is a part of the Movement For Black Lives, or any organizer who supports racial justice, would be thrilled to work with DSA after learning that your candidate is endorsed by the FOP.”

The discussion ended with Metro DC DSA promising to take internal measures — through democratic means — to make sure that this situation does not happen again.

This is why the the passage of Amendment 26: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates is so important: we will no longer be able to work on sex decriminalization work, or any work in coalition with any black-led organization in the District of Columbia.

Where do we want to build our coalition? Do we want to continue to work with the local Movement for Black Lives? Do we want to work on sex work decriminalization? Fare evasion decriminalization? If we do not show that we are proactively taking measures to avoid this situation again, then we will be blacklisted as an organization within these circles.

It is that serious. I urge you to take to heart the importance of these strategic relationships and vote in favor of A26.

S11: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Andy Feeney

I oppose what I think is numbered proposal A.26.2, which lists a number of different organizations that any DSA-endorsed candidate cannot accept donations and/or support from. I think the scope of this proposed list, if we adopt it, would essentially make it impossible for Metro DC DSA to do electoral work effectively in the DMV region, and over time would effectively convert us from a big-tent, multi-tendency organization into a much smaller, more tightly focused, more “vanguardist” organization operating along semi-Bolshevik lines. It can be argued, of course, that a more Bolshevik and disciplined style of organization is exactly what DSA must adopt in order to lead a socialist revolution in the USA. But a counter-argument is that this proposal would restrict Metro DC DSA’s membership far too much and isolate us from the vast majority of potential voters in this area, including many potential socialist voters. Consequently, adopting this measure might well make it very difficult, if not impossible, for DSA-endorsed candidates to win local elections. In this place, and at this time, I think the reasons not to restrict our chapter’s membership and tighten our focus in this way greatly outweigh the reasons for doing so. To the extent that we hope to remain a “big tent” organization with a potential appeal to a wide variety of DMV residents, we should reject this proposal.

S12: In favor of A12 (Endorsements Committee)
Signed: Nate S., Ben D., Walker Green, Stuart K.

The chapter, and especially the chapter’s electoral organizers, have suffered from the lack of a formal chapter-level endorsement vetting process. As currently stands, all anyone has to do to promote a chapter endorsement is put a resolution before the general body. While egalitarian, this too often leads to poorly-vetted candidates. With candidate vetting being a hot button issue among electoral- and non-electoral folks alike, more and more of the labor of vetting candidates has been placed upon already-busy electoral organizers.

The fairest solution is to create a “non-partisan” (to use that terminology) administrative body charged with carrying out the basic tasks we expect of a candidate seeking endorsement, such as answering a questionnaire about their positions. Amendment 12 is a well-thought-out alternative to the current ad hoc system, which essentially places all the work of vetting on electoral organizers who are already busy working with candidates they support.

S13: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) & R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Woody Woodruff

A socialist future does not, can not include unredeemable people or organizations. We have a galaxy of institutional opponents — the clutter of capitalist practices. Almost all of us, including those of us in DSA, participate in some capitalist practices perforce, in order to manage lives in this intensely capitalist environment. But as individuals, and as an organization, we are not the same as the practices we (reluctantly) embrace, and neither are any other individuals or organizations. It is today hard for us to imagine having something in common with Zionists or their organizations, or cops and their “unions.” But, just as “an unorganized socialist is a contradiction in terms,” we have faith in organizations as places where individuals learn and respond to external factors like a changing information environment. Where their organization is grounded in the commonalities of a workplace, it is in our socialist DNA to hope that mutuality of interests will prevail over a temporarily deformed occupational culture — even “warrior cop” syndrome. We cannot write them off, any of them, or put fences around them as forever our enemies. Capitalism is our enemy; its ensnarees and victims (even those who feel and act like beneficiaries) are not. We cannot identify tomorrow’s opponents today, and should not try to embed them in our bylaws, handcuffing our own range of activism.

Candidates considered by MDC DSA for endorsement are in a mediating position between our socialism and the wider political world of governance, which emphatically does not align with our ideals and goals in every respect. Candidate questionnaires are critical to our understanding of potential candidates and should elicit their ideals and principles; we can then inspect their responses for their compatibility with our own and judge whether or not to endorse. “Red lines” have a confounding role in this process. The demands we make of candidates must be as individual as their responses.

S14: Three Reader Proposal — Democratic Safeguards for the General Body and Steering Committee. In favor of A25.1 (Against the Restriction of Voting Rights and Inappropriate Authority to Leadership Bodies)
Signed: Nate S., Ryan M., Jay C.

I think the three reader proposal is overall a good idea. However, it has some portions that give me concern; they give certain powers to the Steering Committee and remove other powers from the General Body. A25.1 has two parts; I will explain for both why I think the language is a good idea.

A25.1 Part 1:

The authors of A25 believe, and I agree, that many things are voted on by the general body that don’t really need a vote, taking up precious meeting time. However, this isn’t a question of us being allowed to vote on too many things. It’s really a question of us being used to voting on too many things; a cultural issue. A25 attempts to do an end-around this issue by simply ruling certain types of proposals out of order.

A25 specifically delineates 6 types of resolutions that “shall” be allowed to be put in front of the General Body, and also 6 other types that are explicitly disallowed from consideration. In specifically listing disallowed proposals, A25 is deciding what the general membership is and is not allowed to vote on.

Bylaws shouldn’t be banning what can go before the general body. The power should rest with the members here. If the general body can vote to dissolve the chapter, why shouldn’t the general body vote to support the “Pay Your Damn Workers Act”? It may not be a great use of our time, since we all agree that paying your workers is important. but that’s a decision for the folks setting the agenda, not the bylaws.

We ought to fix the problem of “too many votes” by making a culture change in our organization, not limiting the power of the General Body in this way. By removing language pertaining to ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’ resolutions, A25.1 preserves an important democratic safeguard.

A25.1 Part 2:

The authors of A25 provide a mechanism for Steering to provide some sort of useful input to resolutions. This is a good idea, given Steering’s familiarity with various parts of the chapter and the chapter’s resource limitations. Many unions have similar mechanisms.

However, I have concerns about the mechanism for this input. A25 allows the Steering Committee to unilaterally amend a proposal, and have the amended proposal go head-to-head with the original version for a general body vote.

I believe the authors had good intentions when writing this language, but as a Steering Committee member, I worry the “Steering” version of a proposal will win the vast majority of the time, because the label of “Steering” carries a certain soft power. If I’m a member who’s not super aware of the issue under debate, when faced with a “Steering-approved” vs. a “non-Steering-approved” version of the resolution, I think I would go with the “Steering-approved” version in almost all cases. I believe this creates a fundamental imbalance. I don’t want the General Body to become a rubber-stamp for whatever amendments Steering decides to implement to a rank-and-file member’s proposal.

The language in A25.1 would change this Steering input process by removing the relevant language. If A25.1 passes, instead of a head-to-head, the original proposal would go before the general body. However, Steering would still be empowered to endorse a particular amendment and present that as the “Steering-approved amendment”, to be voted on as per Robert’s Rules. Functionally, the same outcomes are possible — the original version passes, or the “Steering (amended) version” passes — but with A25.1 the balance of power is different, and less in favor of Steering.

S15: In favor of R2 (Resolution to Endorse David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large)
Signed: Chip G.

I encourage members of the local to endorse the campaign of our comrade and fellow MDC DSA member David Schwartzman.

Even critics of endorsing David’s campaign have conceded that his platform, which includes establishing a public bank, abolishing the tipped minimum wage, supporting paid family leave, and ending police exchanges between DC police and Israeli occupation forces, is fully in line with our own goals as a socialist organization. David’s campaign is interjecting these issues into the public debate; issues that oftentimes are marginalized or purposefully ignored.

As socialists, our goal is more than narrow electoral victories, it is the fundamental transformation of our society along socialist lines. As such, we as socialists have nothing to gain by the closure of discourse and narrowing of acceptable options.

Furthermore, many people feel alienated from our electoral system, as they do not believe they are given meaningful choices. David’s campaign will give DC voters a meaningful alternative when they go to ballot box.

Finally, DC is for all intents and purposes a one party town. This means that there is no concerns about the DC Statehood Green Party playing the effect of a spoiler. The lack of a reactionary, right wing Republican Party as a political force in DC also means that it is the Democratic Party politicians who act at the behest of capitalists. Time and time again, we’ve seen DC government side with businesses and landlords and against workers and tenants. This dynamic is not unique to DC, it is common in many urban areas where there are powerful business interests, but the reactionary brand of the Republican Party is unpalatable. Socialists in Seattle were able to navigate a similar situation in order to forge a genuine working class electoral formation. DC is ripe for a similar political formation.

Comrades opposed to endorsing David’s campaign have argued that the DC Statehood Green Party is not the correct vehicle for forging such a formation. It is true that DC Statehood Green Party is an imperfect organization. But so too is the Democratic Party, and we frequently support candidates campaigns for elected office through the Democratic Party on the grounds that it is “just a a ballot line.” Given that the Statehood Green Party exists too as a ballot line and that there are real socialists and committed activists within its ranks it makes no political sense to refuse to engage with them when doing so would advance our shared ends.

S16: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) & in favor of R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Garrett S.

In reading previously submitted statements, it seems to me that the debate on A26 centers on a few core issues:

  • How can we avoid the situation we faced with March Elrich’s endorsement, in which the candidate gladly accepted (and continues to accept) an endorsement from a white supremacist organization?
  • How can we show that, as an organization, we are making tangible changes so as not to find ourselves in this mess again, to regain lost trust with other organizations in the District?
  • How do we make sure that candidates seeking our endorsement are in fact socialists, and will not betray the trust and resources we have given them?

The answer, to me, lies in voting no on Amendment 26, but yes on Resolution 3. Should the comprehensive questions of Resolution 3 be adopted as language for every candidate questionnaire, we will be able to force candidates to hold themselves to account to us before any such endorsement from the FOP, or Zionist org, or what have you, would come up. Should a candidate go back on their answers in these questionnaires, of course we should rescind an endorsement. But it should be discussed as a body, in good faith with each other, on a case by case basis, with candidates given an appropriate chance to explain their rationale and prove to the body that they do in fact hold the principles they outlined in their questionnaires. If it shows they do not, an endorsement should be rescinded, but because of the lie and the betrayal of values, not because of a crossing on an arbitrary red line, defined in A26 as an accepted endorsement from a grab bag of certain organizations. To me, R3 is enough — it specifically, and strongly, shows candidates what values are necessary to gain our support. And should a candidate break their word, I believe that most of my comrades would want to rescind their endorsement. But A26 takes away the debate and the process for which the body can make this rescinding forcefully heard, as well as taking away the ability for a candidate to be heard out.

With a passage of R3, I believe we would do the proper work in showing organizers in the District that we are making good on our word to change our structure to avoid another Elrich situation. Some of my comrades feel differently, and believe the additional bylaw amendment is necessary — as is their right. I look forward to a spirited debate on Sunday, and am glad that regardless of the outcome of this vote, our organization is working to make itself a more accountable body.

S17: In favor of A12 (Electoral Committee)
Signed: Stuart K.

I recommend that delegates vote in favor of A12: Endorsements Committee. The intent of this amendment is to create an independent, transparent, and more democratic process for bringing electoral endorsement requests before the general body. In this sense, the process here refers to all activities leading up to a general body vote to either approve or deny a candidate’s request for endorsement. That is, A12 sets forth clear guidelines for a pre-endorsement process. You can view a full flowchart of the proposed pre-endorsement process here:

WHAT A12 WOULD DO

Under A12, there are provisions for the following requirements:

  • The creation of an independent Endorsement Committee to process requests for electoral endorsement in an efficient and unbiased manner.
  • The appointment of an Endorsement Committee chair that is neither a Steering Committee member nor the chair of a working group or caucus, to prevent conflicts of interest.
  • An endorsement intake form on the chapter website, so that there is transparency as to which candidates requested an endorsement and when.
  • A chapter-wide and jurisdiction-specific questionnaire development process, with final approval of questionnaires by the democratically-elected Steering Committee.
  • Notifications to the chapter-wide membership about the status of candidate endorsements and the availability of candidate questionnaires.
  • Steering Committee approval of submitting locally endorsed candidates for national endorsement.

WHAT A12 WOULD NOT DO

If approved, A12 would not change how the chapter votes on electoral endorsements. Individual members, working groups, or caucuses could still advocate on behalf of candidates for endorsement. And candidates would still need a two-thirds majority in the affirmative of a general body vote to receive an endorsement.

WHY I PROPOSED A12

I proposed A12 because the process leading to electoral endorsements in our chapter is broken. Currently, the endorsement process in our chapter is chaotic, informal, inefficient, non-transparent, and can be accelerated or stalled based on the whims of a single individual with clear ideological preferences. The following existing conditions are just a few examples of why we find ourselves in this situation:

  • There is no standard point of intake for candidate endorsement requests. If a candidate (or a member on behalf of a candidate) is seeking the chapter’s endorsement, whether they receive instructions on how to apply for endorsement depends on whether they know who in the chapter to contact and how. Once a candidate does manage to contact the chapter, their endorsement requests have fallen on me as the chapter’s (ambiguously-termed) lead electoral organizer for my response and action. This process is inefficient and — as with any process controlled by an individual — could be used to stall or accelerate endorsements based on an individual’s ideological preferences.
  • There are no independently-approved candidate questionnaires. Without independently-approved questionnaires, chapter members advocating on behalf of the candidates — or even the candidates themselves — are free to create their own questionnaires that play to the strengths and weaknesses of those candidates. The lack of a formal process creates inefficiencies and could lead to bias in generating a questionnaire that, ultimately, reduces the quality of our chapter’s candidate vetting.
  • There is no requirement to notify members that a candidate is seeking endorsement. Although the Electoral Caucus took several steps to notify chapter members about the vetting of potential endorsees, this norm was not universal for all candidates that our chapter has considered for endorsement. This lack of notification resulted in some chapter members learning of candidate endorsement votes only as members attended general body meetings where those votes took place. These same members could have added additional layers of candidate vetting. The independent Endorsements Committee proposed by A12 will fix these issues by standardizing the process by which candidates seek endorsement from our chapter.

CONCLUSION

If approved, A12 will result in a chapter endorsement process that is more transparent, more accessible, and more democratic than the current process. Therefore, I urge delegates at the convention to vote in favor of A12 and the creation of an independent Endorsements Committee.

S18: Against A17 (Electoral Endorsement Process) & A17.1 (Two-Tiered Endorsement Structure)
Signed: Stuart K.

I’m recommending that delegates vote no on A17 and its related amendments, A17.1 and A17.2.

Along with voting no on A17, I recommend that delegates vote yes on A12: Endorsements Committee and A25: Three Reader Resolution Process, as these two proposals would implement two of the four provisions included in A17.

WHY

It’s clear that our chapter needs to reform its endorsement process, so I agree with the intent of A17 to do so. However, I still have reservations as to the ability of A17 to (1) make pre-endorsement activities more accessible; (2) address redundancies with other proposals; and (3) maintain the high vote threshold required for endorsement. I outline these reservations more specifically in red/italics within the text of the resolution below.

RESOLUTION WITH ANNOTATIONS

Electoral Endorsements. The General Body shall be empowered to officially endorse electoral candidates on behalf of MDC DSA by a two-thirds vote at a general body meeting, once the following requirements are met:

  1. Candidates must have the support, in writing, of five (5) MDC DSA members in good standing, excluding any members who are working in a professional capacity for the candidate seeking MDC DSA’s endorsement.

    This provision would reduce accessibility to endorsement processes. Requiring five members to bring forth an endorsement resolution continues the norm of relying on informal networks to operate within our chapter. This may pose barriers to organizing for members who are new. As a democratically run organization, every member should have the right to bring forth a resolution to the general body.
  2. The Steering Committee must then certify that candidates are supported by five qualified chapter members in good standing, and that candidates have completed candidate questionnaire relevant to the specific office that the candidate is seeking (e.g. Mayoral, Alexandria County Council, United States Senate).

    This provision would be redundant if A12: Endorsements Committee passes. If approved, A12 would already require that candidates complete a questionnaire prior to seeking the chapter’s endorsement. A12 also stipulates that all chapter members have an opportunity to provide input on questionnaires, with final approval by the Steering Committee. The added layer of democratic review of questionnaires in A12 ensures that members advocating for endorsement — or the candidates themselves — aren’t developing questionnaires that are favorable to a specific candidate.
  3. After submitting the questionnaire, the candidate must come to one General Body Meeting to answer questions directly from MDC DSA members.

    This provision would also reduce accessibility to endorsement processes. Requiring that members be present at a general body meeting to hear from candidates may seriously impede members’ ability to interact with candidates prior to an endorsement. Members have already expressed concern about in-person attendance requirements for voting at general body meetings.

    Previously, the Electoral Caucus has hosted conference calls that enabled chapter members to ask questions directly to candidates. If members couldn’t be on the calls, they could submit questions ahead of time for the moderator to ask. Absent members could also listen to recordings of the calls afterwards. These calls have been attended by almost 50 unique chapter members. The high rate of attendance and participation in these calls shows that members are open to conference call Q&A sessions. Therefore, I would be amenable to requiring that candidates participate in conference calls rather than Q&A sessions at general body meetings.
  4. The final vote may not take place until the next general body meeting so that all MDC DSA members have a reasonable amount of time to conduct their own research on the candidate.

    This provision would be redundant if A25: Three Reader Resolution Process passes. If approved, A25 would provide at least a month between the introduction of resolutions and voting on those resolutions.
  5. In the event that the endorsement vote fails, the chapter may, by majority vote, choose to issue a statement of support for the candidate instead. This provision would lower the bar for official support from our chapter.

    Electoral endorsements are serious commitments by the chapter to a candidate for office. Any approval of a candidate’s campaign — whether its an endorsement or a statement of support — should meet the rightfully-high two-thirds vote threshold at a general body meeting. Members may not campaign for the candidate as representatives of MDC DSA, and chapter resources may not be used to support the campaign, but the candidate is permitted to publicize and refer to the statement in their campaign materials.

CONCLUSION

I’m glad we can all agree that our chapter’s endorsement process needs some work. But instead of voting yes on this resolution (A17), please vote yes on A12 and A25.

S19: Democratize Everything, a Chapter For the Many. Against A25 (Three Reader Resolution Process), A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates), R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions) & in favor of A9 (Campaigns Council), A12 (Endorsements Committee), A13.1 (Extended Discussion and Absentee Voting — Revised), A19.1 (Allow Less-Frequent Voting Meetings and Alternate Meeting Types), A22 (Creating Strategy Forums), A25.1 (Against the Restriction of Voting Rights and Inappropriate Authority to Leadership Bodies)
Signed: Ben D., Stu K.

The proposals up for debate at the upcoming Metro DC DSA convention generally fall into two camps: expanding internal democracy, or restricting internal democracy. Amendments 9, 12, 13.1, 19.1, 22, and 25.1 all work in concert to expand internal democracy by making it easier to vote, and debate strategy openly, and by moving the soft power that has built up in siloed working groups and caucuses into open and democratic processes. Amendment 26, the unamended A25, and Resolution 3 all restrict internal democracy and membership input.

Bylaws are not our program or our manifesto. They do not exist to state our politics, they exist to govern the chapter. The bylaws should be designed to foster a healthy, democratic chapter. To that end, bylaws should follow best practices, and, while reflecting our socialist values, strive to be tendency neutral and maximize internal democracy. Because political situations evolve over time, our political decisions should come from our membership. Bylaw amendments should work in concert as part of a broader vision for how the chapter should function. Amendments 9, 12, 13.1, 19.1, 22, and 25.1 all are tendency neutral and serve to make it easier for rank-and-file members to participate in the work of the chapter, and for the chapter’s practice to reflect the will of the membership.

A26, R1, and R3 are reactive proposals that came about in clear response to specific debates within the chapter, ones which are immaterial to the proposals themselves. It is extremely concerning that most of the debate within the chapter about these proposals has been about specific situations from the chapter’s past, rather than the overarching philosophical merits of the proposals themselves. These proposals are not borne out of some long-term vision for a healthy, democratic chapter, instead they come from an understandable reaction to controversial recent events within the chapter. This is not, however, how bylaws should be structured. Bylaws should be coherent, forward-looking, and most of all, democratic.

Before voting, every member should ask themselves “does this proposal expand internal democracy and open debate, or restrict it?”

A26 and R3: Restricting Member Power

A26 and R3 are well-intentioned attempts to fix a problem with the way we’ve done endorsements in the past. However, these proposals write specific political positions into the bylaws, superseding internal democracy in the process. Both proposals restrict situations in which the membership can vote on the business of the chapter. Internal democracy is the bedrock of DSA. To that end, the chapter should to keep power in the hands of its membership. Endorsements and unendorsements should reflect the will of the general body, and be decided through a democratic process that includes debate and deliberation. A26 and R3, as currently written, drastically restrict the power of the body to decide who is endorsed, and who is not.

The debate on A26 has centered around relitigation of the Marc Elrich endorsement and censure process. This is a shame, because the proposal itself is a radical shift in the way the chapter, and DSA more broadly, functions, and is a discussion worth taking seriously, and having openly.

The passage of A26 would not affect the Marc Elrich’s MDC DSA endorsement, as the amendment would not take effect until well after the general election in November. The sponsors of A26 have stated that BYP 100, an organization that objected to the Elrich endorsement, have accepted that the endorsement will stand through the election and moved on. What they need is assurance that what happened with the Elrich campaign will not happen again.

All endorsement questionnaires sent out since Elrich was endorsed by FOP Lodge 35 have included a question asking if candidates will reject police union endorsements. All future questionnaires will include this question as well. In addition, the passage of A12: Endorsements Committee would create an open and democratic process with input from all relevant working groups and caucuses. Every member of the chapter will have the chance to have input on the questionnaire, and to ask candidates questions. This process will allow members to reject any candidate who does not meet our standards. In other words, electoral organizers within the chapter have taken seriously what happened with the Elrich endorsement, and have put in place measures to ensure candidates are more thoroughly vetted in the future.

No one in the chapter wants a repeat of the Elrich situation, and no one in the chapter wants to endorse future candidates who are comfortable with police union endorsements. To believe that these positions must be hardwired into the chapter bylaws requires the assumption that our comrades are intentionally pushing candidates that contravene DSA values. This is absolutely not the case.

The Elrich and police union situation is in the past, and is a distraction from the question we should be asking: how would A26 actually change the chapter?

A26 hardwires a chapter line into the bylaws. This is unprecedented among DSA chapters, and marks a massive departure from the norms and traditions of DSA. This move from a multi-tendency, more horizontalist model to a rigidly ideological, centralist model deserves to be debated on its own merits. Passing A26 creates a precedent of writing duties, obligations, and specific positions members must follow into the bylaws, and could have far-reaching implications, especially for members from minority tendencies like advocates of electoral abstentionism. The passage of this amendment would create a climate where any majority faction at a convention can hardwire their positions into the chapter’s governing document, impose those positions on the membership at-large, and shut down any organizing that may contravene those positions.

A26 opens the door for the chapter to take drastic action, unendorsing an endorsed candidate and dissolving a working group, without any input from the membership, any adjudication process, or even any delay. Writing an automatic hair-trigger into the bylaws is a deeply flawed idea. There is virtually nothing that should be written in the bylaws that automatically causes the chapter to take action without some democratic deliberation and due process. Creating this trigger opens up a world of unintended consequences that are difficult to predict beforehand. It also creates a precedent for the chapter to take other actions without input from the membership. Debates about electoral work can not just be bypassed by changing bylaws. They need to be had openly, and voted on by the membership.

R3 also sets a dangerous precedent, and is an unnecessary and undemocratic resolution. The authors admit that the questions can and should be changed to fit the situation by the general body. At that point it seems unnecessary to require the specific questions by statute, only to have to constantly update them to fit the moment. R3 also is based on a number of flawed assumptions about why MDC DSA engages in electoral work, ideological assumptions that should be hashed out openly at future strategy sessions.

The passage of A12 would create an official mechanism for all all members of the chapter to have a say in what goes in the questionnaire. This is vastly more democratic and more flexible. The questionnaire process will include input from every caucus and relevant Working Group and jurisdictional formation. There is no reason to think this process would not reflect the will of the membership, including minority tendencies. R3is inflexible and undemocratic, and would needlessly hamstring MDC DSA’s ability to engage in serious mass politics.

Democratizing Chapter Reforms: A9, A12, A13.1, A19.1, A22, and A25.1

The chapter will be healthiest and most effective with a culture of open political debate, empowered by neutral, well-written bylaws that prioritize democracy above all. A9 will create a Campaigns Council, allowing for open and public communication and collaboration between working groups, and will help break down the siloization and opacity that has plagued the chapter. A12 gives the broader membership, regardless of tendency, real input into the endorsement process, and treats candidates with the respect and fairness they deserve. A13.1 will be the biggest expansion of democracy in the history of the chapter, and empower the broader membership to take a real decision-making role in the chapter. This will empower members who are currently disempowered by the limited nature of the in-person GBM, which disenfranchised members who live far from downtown DC, work on weekends, or just feel out of the loop. A19.1 makes the meeting and deliberation process more accessible and deliberative. A22 mandates much needed open discussion of strategy between campaigns. MDC DSA’s currently active campaigns have long-term strategies, based on real theories of change, but these discussions currently take place behind closed doors between cadre members. A22 allows the rank-and-file membership to help understand why the chapter’s formations do what they do, and participate in these critical discussions in a democratic way. A25.1 corrects a flaw in the otherwise good A25 that restricts what the membership may vote on.

This convention gives the chapter a real opportunity to restructure as an open, democratic, and welcoming organization. For too long members have been isolated, and the chapter has functioned less effectively than it could, because of a culture of concentrated soft power, and a lack of communication and open debate. MDC DSA has shockingly low participation from membership. Democratizing the chapter can not fix this problem alone, but the problem can never be fixed by disempowering the membership.

S20: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Kurt Stand

There are many reasons to oppose Resolution 26.2, a resolution which, if passed, could only result in DSA’s isolation from the very struggles — for prison abolition, for Palestinian rights, against gentrification, on behalf of worker’s rights, in support of reproductive justice, for universal health care — that its makers believe they are advancing. Of the many possible reasons for this, I will note here only three.

First — every struggle involves contradictory and conflicting groupings and forces, every struggle involves a change in understanding, of power and of possibility — and as far as that goes there is little difference between electoral and non-electoral action. Rooted organizations on the cutting edge of the issues recognize this.For example, the strongest advocate of Palestinian rights in Congress is most likely Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul, MN who has openly called Israel an apartheid state and has introduced legislation in Congress calling for cuts in US aid to Israel. BDS supporters back her — so too does J Street. As for another example: prisoner and returning citizen organizations often receive money from the Soros Foundation, some even from the Koch Brothers, from church groups across the spectrum — including the Church of Scientology. But the motto of prisoner/ex-prisoner groups is taken seriously: nothing for us, without us. Every arena in which I have been engaged with the movement I have observed the self-confidence bred of experience that takes support wherever it comes from, without letting the obvious outside agendas of other change the agenda of those coming out of prison. Candidates for office are judged solely by their position of prisoner rights, on sentencing reform, and the like, making for some quite odd choices. I myself am not always comfortable with some of the relationships, but standing there and condescendingly warning people of dangers they know all too well would be worse than useless. An alternative path can only be built within what exists while working to build independent strength that doesn’t violate that principle of nothing for us, without us. And that logic holds true everywhere. And on the question of whom to or to not work with, there is little difference between electoral or non-electoral action.

Second — no successful mass struggle or revolutionary movement has ever made the least bit of progress without alliances or relationships that from a distance can look misguided or as if the enemy was being embraced. That was true of the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Algerian. Cuban, South African revolutions, true of the 21st century revolutionary initiatives in Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere just as it was true of more reformist socialist movements from Sweden to Jamaica to Tanzania. The same is true of labor struggles or mass community struggles including those for Black Freedom or Women’s Liberation — the gains of the New Deal era and of the 60s were won through alliance and coalitions, the isolation attendant upon the break-up of those alliances is what allowed the right wing to regain the initiative and brought us to the neo-fascist danger we now face — a danger that threatens to undo the even the narrowest and mildest reforms won in the past, let alone those of a more fundamental nature. Debate and argument within any broad-based movement — be it revolutionary or not — always took place around how to not whether to engage in alliance — defeat and failure was sometimes the result, of course, but the only victories won were won by maintaining integrity and principle within a broader movement and working with people and forces with which groups are otherwise opposed. There is no other way forward — when disappointment with the duplicity of others becomes paramount then isolation and defeat inevitably follow.

Finally — at the bottom of this, notwithstanding the sense of political strength implied by the resolution, it is really rooted in a profound pessimism. Implied within it is that any alliance or coalition with objectionable forces will lead to a diminution of socialist ideology, that neither our socialist organization nor broad movements of working people are capable of maintaining their principles and sense of direction except by drawing strict walls around our organization. That is what leads to a kind of prosecutorial mind set — the ever-present search for a step into opportunism based on what someone has done, not what they are doing. It is a mindset that is profoundly undemocratic in the truest sense of the term, for it assumes people are incapable of understanding what is before them or making decisions without guidance.

Or, to put this less negatively, it assumes that class consciousness, that an anti-racist, intersectional socialist perspective can develop in a vacuum. But, in fact, such awareness will only emerge through engagement with the broadest and widest number of people, through working with individuals who may be all over the map with their ideas. Transformation only takes place through engagement, only out of the contradictions within such engagement is any kind of progress or growth possible. Absent that, the danger lies in becoming something like the Socialist Labor Party of old — a deeply principled, honorable organization, with a working-class base, that warned against any compromise of the socialist goal. Their explanations of socialism, their critique of reformism can still be read with profit. But they remained marginal to all the major class and social struggles of the 20th century and hence faded into irrelevance. We live in dangerous times, we live in a moment of great possibility — we should not chain ourselves up in walls of exclusion but engage in all forms of struggle with the fullest confidence in people, in the power of solidarity and in the nature of change.

S21: In favor of R2 (Resolution to Endorse David Schwartzman for DC Council At-Large)
Signed: Kurt Stand

I strongly urge support for an endorsement of David Schwartzman’s City Council campaign. I fully concur with an orientation toward backing candidates likely to win; however, I also believe that when such an orientation becomes an absolute it becomes counter-productive. David’s chances of winning may be remote, but that does not mean that he isn’t running a serious campaign that is part of a movement within the District against the kind of Democratic Party neo-liberalism that has implemented pro-Chamber of Commerce measures while claiming to do the opposite. DC’s government in recent years has brought development at the expense of DC’s long-time residents and, in particular, the expense of the African American community that is being uprooted and dispersed — David’s campaign is part of the movement of resistance to that direction. David’s budget and tax analysis, his support of public banking, and his longtime relationships with key activists in struggles for social justice all give his campaign relevance to DSA’s political agenda — and relevance to other initiatives to build transformative politics locally. Thus, DSA’s support for David will further our work to build a local alternative to the existing power structure.

S22: Against R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Stuart K.

RECOMMENDATION

I’m recommending that delegates vote no on R3: Mandatory Endorsement Questions.

Along with voting no on A17, I recommend that delegates vote yes on A12: Endorsements Committee. The A12 proposal includes a provision that would require a chapter-wide questionnaire development process, with final approval of any questionnaires resting with the democratically-elected steering committee.

WHY

As I wrote in my statements on A12 and A17, it’s clear that our chapter needs to reform its endorsement process. Additionally, as included in A12, there is a need for the chapter to adopt a standard questionnaire for electoral candidates seeking our chapter’s endorsement.

However, I disagree with the standard questionnaire as put forward by R3: Mandatory Endorsement Questions. I disagree with this questionnaire because most of the questions are not specific enough to elicit clear responses from candidates. That is, the questions as written will allow candidates to provide half-answers that leave just enough room for ambiguity on where a candidate stands on an issue. When candidates inevitably dodge the questions in R3, our chapter will be right back to our current situation in terms of vetting candidates and—more importantly—holding candidates accountable when elected.

The goal of any questionnaire should be to force a candidate’s clear response on a yes or no question. In my experience — as a current elected official and as an electoral organizer who writes questionnaires — the best way to force clear answers is to ask clear questions. Most of the questions in R3 fail this test.

The reason why questionnaires need to elicit clear answers from candidates is two-fold. First, clear questions lead to clear answers, which helps our chapter hold candidates accountable to their previously stated positions. For instance, question #5 in R3 asks whether a candidate “supports public housing.” This question is not specific enough. Any candidate vying for DSA’s endorsement would likely answer yes to this question. However, they may not answer yes to the following question: “Would you support building high-quality, dense, transit-oriented, government-owned housing in wealthy neighborhoods, funded in part by tax increases on the jurisdiction’s wealthiest residents?” During the D.C. primaries, I asked this same question to a so-called progressive candidate for D.C. Council Chair. His response? “Wow, well I support public housing, and it should be transit-oriented, but I’m not sure about the other stuff. Two for three isn’t bad, right?” Clearly, two for three is bad. But based on the current wording of questions in R3, this candidate could have submitted a questionnaire, indicated that he supported public housing, and received a DSA endorsement.

The second reason for eliciting clear answers is to make questionnaires more quickly readable and accessible for Metro D.C. DSA’s broader membership. Candidate responses to the ambiguous questions in R3 would require that DSA members read between the lines to gauge where a candidate stands on an issue. A candidate’s response to the R3 question of “does the candidate support … the abolition of the tipped sub-minimum wage” might be as follows:

“I support the eventual abolition of the tipped minimum wage and will work with stakeholders and community leaders to reach a solution that benefits tipped workers.”

On its face, this response appears to align with DSA’s support of abolishing the tipped minimum wage. But this same candidate — even with this statement — could have been an opponent of Initiative 77, which would have abolished the tipped minimum wage outright in D.C. A better way to ask this same question would be, “Would you vote yes or no on the repeal of Initiative 77?” In this case, the candidate’s response would be an unambiguous yes or no, and thus easier to read for chapter members. By not asking clear questions, R3 would encourage ambiguous candidate responses and force chapter members to read into candidate responses, rather than eliciting clear responses to begin with.

CONCLUSION

The questions put forward by R3 would result in ambiguous candidate responses to endorsement questionnaires, and for that reason I urge delegates to vote no on R3. If A12: Endorsements Committee passes, I would be happy to work with the sponsors of R3 during questionnaire development workshops required by A12.

S23: In favor of A22 (Creating Strategy Forums)
Signed: Nate S.

Quarterly strategy forums are an important step for developing the chapter’s political analysis.

A problem we have faced in this chapter since I have been a member is that we don’t really talk about strategy. It’s clear that different campaigns are based on different strategies. For example, some of our campaigns are explicitly based on the philosophies of Frances Fox Piven; others, especially electoral, take inspiration from Seth Ackerman’s “Blueprint for a New Party”; and so on. However, we don’t have a chapter strategy: an idea of how these different campaigns relate to each other, relate to socialism, and relate to us as organizers. Right now, all our strategic thinking is done completely ad-hoc — which is to say, unstrategic. To change this state of affairs, we need open and honest political discussion about why we conduct campaigns, how we conduct them, and how well we are doing.

A quarterly strategy forum serves two important functions.

First, by having frank and honest discussions across and outside of campaigns, we advance a political education role. By having strategy forums, we encourage members — not only leadership, but rank and file organizers — to think of themselves as critical and analytical political actors. It’s important for us to spread the idea and practice of political analysis across our chapter — to have people understand that we’re not just “doing stuff,” but that we’re doing our activism with a purpose and an idea behind it. I’ve tried to do this by helping organize our Socialist Night School, but strategy forums tie it directly back to the work that we do in the community. It’s a very empowering thing for rank and file members, everyday people, to realize they can not only do activism in the community, but that they’re encouraged to think critically about how best to do it.

Second, open strategy forums allow people to hear from and learn from a diversity of analyses, sharpening our campaigns’ success. Learning from a diversity of viewpoints is not something that just happens naturally; we have to create the kinds of spaces that encourage it. In other words, we have to create spaces that actively break down these “bubbles” that have developed and that we organize in. A quarterly strategy forum is one such step. It’s a place where we all go in with the mindset that we’re going to analyze what we’re doing, on a macro level, and figure out how to make it better. This open discussion sharpens all of us and will make us more successful as political actors. Other chapters have begun to implement similar proposals, because they see the benefits of having political discussion outside our self-chosen circles.

A Campaigns Council is a good step towards ensuring that we all talk to each other, across the boundaries of different working groups. However, without a space that’s explicitly dedicated to strategy, we will likely end up just continuing along the paths we’re already on, shrugging off outside input that threatens to dramatically change our view of our own work. In this work, it’s easy to get caught up in the details of particular campaigns. To really make the most of a space where we all come together, we have to go in with the explicit intention of thinking about the big picture. That’s what A22 creates for us.

We’ve succeeded a lot at various forms of activism; we’re going at doing things. Now we need to build a culture of good faith, explicitly political, discussion and debate. This is how we embody a material analysis in our work, and how we become more effective for the effort we put in. Strategy forums are a step toward that goal.

S24: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Stuart K.

RECOMMENDATION

I’m recommending that delegates vote no on Amendment 26: Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates.

Instead, delegates should vote yes on Amendment 12: Endorsement Committee and vote yes on Amendment 2: Un-Endorsement & Censure Clause.

WHY

Our chapter should not adopt any automatic mechanisms in our bylaws. Such mechanisms will only encourage knee-jerk reactions to situations that may have otherwise been resolved through open, democratic debate. However, this is the situation we’ll find ourselves in if we adopt A26.

If there were no automatic endorsement rescission mechanism in A26, I would likely support some components of this proposal. Like the A26 sponsors, I also believe that DSA-endorsed candidates should reject endorsements from “labor, fraternal, or other organizations whose mission is primarily to organize and represent the police.” We can require that candidates agree to reject these kinds of endorsements by including this requirement as a question on candidate questionnaires. In fact, I made sure to include this exact question when drafting the questionnaire for D.C. State Board of Education candidates. If a DSA-endorsed candidate committed to rejecting police endorsements and then accept a police endorsement, our chapter can and should move to rescind the candidate’s endorsement. But we should do so through an established democratic process.

Our chapter can establish this democratic process by adopting Amendment 12: Endorsement Committee and Amendment 2: Un-Endorsement & Censure Clause. A12 will enable chapter members to include questions on endorsement questionnaires that ask candidates whether they will reject endorsements from other organizations. A2 will then ensure that our chapter has an unendorsement procedure in place, should candidates accept endorsements that they committed to reject.

CONCLUSION

Automatic, knee-jerk reactions to a decision an organization faces are typically ill-advised. To incorporate such a requirement in Metro D.C. DSA’s bylaws would be downright undemocratic. Vote no on A26. Vote yes on A12 and A2.

S25: In favor of R1 (Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA)
Signed: Craig T., Francesco R., Michelle S., Tom M., Kim Lehmkuhl

The purpose of R1: Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA is for MDC DSA to publicly state that we as a chapter support antifascist work. Voting on this resolution does not obligate the chapter to do anything. It is simply a statement that fascism can only be defeated through organized resistance.

We introduced R1 because the other option is to do nothing to oppose fascism. Some people within the broader left, and even in our chapter, believe that fascists should be ignored because they are attention-seeking trolls that simply act to provoke leftists into confrontation, which in turn recruits more fascists into their cause.

The authors and co-signers of this resolution believe that when fascists are bent on doing violence to marginalized communities, it is our duty to stand with those who are organizing to disrupt them. Staying silent is tantamount to siding with fascists. If we do nothing, we are discounting the threats against marginalized communities. Recently, a northern Virginia Jewish community center was defaced with dozens of swastikas for the second time. Does this mean we tell members of that community that the threat they face isn’t real? Do we tell them that they should ignore the swastikas because the individuals who did this are just angry trolls simply trying to provoke the community into confrontation?

We must act. The counter-protest to Unite the Right 2 held on August 12, 2018 demonstrated this. The organized actions throughout the day were a success, in part because organizers mobilized several thousand people to come out and oppose fascism. Jason Kessler and other organizers for Unite the Right 2 did not rally. Or, well, they tried, and it was pitiful. Those in power want to give the red carpet treatment to these nazis, and we believe we should push back. In fact, our city spent roughly 2.6 million dollars to protect nazis and flood our streets with cops while our elected officials claim poverty when it comes to funding vital programs like caring for homeless kids. We believe that protecting fascists is unacceptable and an offensive waste of money.

However, it is not clear MDC DSA stands behind antifascist organizing. For a variety of reasons, the steering committee voted not to sign on to an A12 public coalition statement. To understand where the chapter-at-large stands on this issue, R1 will ask the chapter if they believe fascism should be defeated. Again, this resolution does not obligate the chapter to act. It is simply asking whether we as a body believe opposing fascism is necessary and whether we stand behind the leftist groups who have been organizing against fascism for years. The intent of this resolution is to ask that MDC DSA take a vital first step towards standing with the people who are most immediately impacted by fascist violence: people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, Jewish folks, women, and many others. MDC DSA should say, unequivocally, that those communities are not expendable. We should counter the liberal and conservative voices that want to equate antifascists with white supremacists.

Whether R1 passes or not, the authors of this resolution will start a caucus after the convention for MDC DSA members interested in antifascist organizing (please note that R1 does not propose this). We believe that — as socialists — we can bring organizing and other resources to the broader antifascist coalition. We want to build stronger connections and relationships with groups across the left so we can help quickly activate a counter-response when fascists act. We hope you will join us.

Even if fascists don’t come back to DC anytime soon, we believe there is value in trying to disrupt their future organizing efforts so that they will never be able to amass the numbers they had August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville. We believe that ignoring their organizing efforts only emboldens them. We should ensure that, at least here on the East Coast, they are not allowed regroup and recruit.

Additionally, if members of the chapter choose to do antifascist work, it is key we do so in solidarity with all groups working on the left. If we choose to organize, we must not create a “good protester vs. bad protester” divide. We do not want to undermine other groups on the left who are fighting fascism. Leave it to the liberals to separate the respectable and tolerable protestors from the uncivil and uncouth. We should know better.

We, the authors of R1, are aware of Public Statement S2: Against R1, which argues that “moderates” and the “center-left” will oppose R1 because it means standing in solidarity with antifascists who employ direct action.

First, we’re not sure what the author means by moderates or the center-left. Are we discussing liberals in general? If so, we’re socialists, not center-left liberals. MDC DSA is fighting for socialism, not liberal democracy. Why should the opinions of liberals carry weight in our decision making?

Second, if moderates within MDC DSA (we’re not currently aware of what moderates within MDC DSA look like, we’re just responding to the author of S2) oppose making a statement of solidarity with all antifascists across the left, should we then do nothing? And if not, then with whom do we work? Do we decide we won’t work with Movement for Black Lives DMV or Smash Racism DC, but we will work with everyone else? As the antifascist opposition in Boston on August 19, 2017 and in DC on August 12, 2018 showed, fascism can be shut down when we form coalitions and show up together. Solidarity with groups across the left is critical to defeating the fascist threat. This resolution doesn’t ask the chapter to do anything but decide where they stand. It does not commit us to any further action.

Third, groups and individuals that put their bodies on the line have proven to be successful. If moderates are willing to compromise the chapter’s support for important antifascist work because they don’t approve of autonomous individuals employing tactics that differ from what we might prefer, we must challenge their strategy to end fascism. Dictating to other leftists what moderates believe to be “respectable” tactics for fighting fascism does the work of the state — that crushes protestors with an oppressive hand.

S26: Against R1 (Resolution on Supporting Antifascist Organizing within MDC DSA)
Signed: Leo Casey

Democratic socialists have always been anti-fascists, because the essence of fascism — its authoritarianism, its racism, its misogyny, its homophobia and its suppression of independent unions, political freedom and civil liberties — runs completely counter to the principles and moral values that are most important to us. The question that we grapple with is not “do we oppose fascism,” but “what is the most effective way to defeat fascism?”

Resolution One is described as “supporting anti-fascist organizing within MDC DSA,” which would seem to be a consensus position for democratic socialists. But the seemingly innocuous language of the resolution — and in particular the resolved “That Metro DSA recognizes the need for a diversity of tactics to defeat fascism” — actually proposes a particular political direction that is destructive of anti-fascist organizing and would be deeply damaging to MDC DSA. “Diversity of tactics” is a term of art that has a particular political meaning — one that treats street violence as a legitimate political tactic. In the context of anti-fascist organizing, “diversity of tactics” is commonly understood as a claim that antifa street fighting with fascists is a legitimate tactic that deserves support.

Why is support for antifa street fighting with fascists a serious political mistake and contrary to our principles and values?

First, our own recent experience is that fascists are most effectively countered when there is the broadest possible mobilization of democratic forces in opposition to them. A powerful example of this type of mobilization was the extraordinary anti-fascist demonstration in Boston, a week after Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer. The streets were filled with tens of thousands of Bostonians from unions; churches, synagogues and mosques; neighborhood and community groups; Black Lives Matter and civil rights organizations; and feminist and LGBTQIA organizations, among others. The pitifully small numbers of white supremacist neo-Nazis were completely outnumbered and soundly politically defeated.

Contrast that to the scenes of small groups of antifa fighting street battles with fascists in Berkeley, which were completely avoided by the people and popular organizations of the city, despite the fact that the left and anti-fascism is as strong there as in any American urban center. Street fighting and violence is opposed by the very people we would want to involve in mass anti-fascist demonstrations, and in overwhelming numbers. By contrast, fascists thrive on violence: it is central to their identity. Unlike Boston, where they disappeared after their humiliating defeat, the street fighting of Berkeley (as well as Portland and Seattle) has only encouraged fascists to return for repeat performances.

Second, our history tells us that mass mobilizations of the broadest type, including all democratic forces, is the way to defeat fascism. Antifa claims as their inspiration groups that opposed the rise of Nazism and Italian Fascism with street fighting. They seem oblivious to the fact that such street fighting — and divisions on the German and Italian left that prevented united opposition to fascism — led to the victory of Nazism and Italian Fascism, not their defeat. A bloody world war which claimed millions and millions of lives had to be fought to undo that victory of Nazism and Italian fascism. Antifa also seem unaware of how the practice of street fighting on the American left, such as that indulged by the Weathermen in their early days, led to ultra-leftism, extreme political isolation, and further adventurism that did profound damage to the anti-Vietnam War movement and the left itself.

Third, the adoption of tactics such as street fighting and the secrecy used to organize and execute them has historically been a most fertile ground for agent provocateurs and infiltrators of various sorts. An open, democratic political culture is our best defense against such efforts against us.

Fourth, the macho posturing associated with street fighting, so strikingly evident in the past in 1930s Germany and Italy and in 1960s Weathermen, is deeply at odds with the socialist feminist values that define DSA.

Fifth, there are serious legal ramifications to support for antifa street fighting, that would put MDC DSA and its elected leadership, as well as DSA as a whole, in legal jeopardy.

There is a strong democratic socialist tradition of direct action against white supremacy and fascism: the use of non-violent civil disobedience. From ‘sitting in’ at racially segregated lunch counters to participating in ‘freedom rides’ on racially segregated buses to marching against court injunctions, democratic socialists put their bodies on the line in the struggle against racism. When married to mass actions such as Montgomery bus boycott, the 1963 March on Washington and the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, this non-violent direct action proved most effective in winning the victories of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. We should employ a similar approach to the struggle against authoritarianism and white supremacy of the far right today. Resolution One diverts us from this path.

S27: In favor of A13.1 (Extended Discussion and Absentee Voting — Revised)
Signed: Cobra Cobrastein, Nate S., Brian W., Carl G.

As MDCDSA grows in membership it is crucial to formalize a process that allows for as many members as possible to participate in our democratic procedures. This Amendment does just that. Although Sunday afternoons allow for many members to attend meetings, and acts as a suitable time for that reason, the fact of the matter is that the time does not accommodate members who have diverse personal or occupational affairs.

By way of example, service industry workers often have fairly inflexible schedules, and may face repercussions from employers for requesting off for voting sessions, possibly affecting their material well being long after the voting session passes. This amendment would allow for members to participate who may not have the time or resources necessary to attend Sunday meetings.

This Amendment offers four immediate and tangible benefits to MDCDSA. First, it provides a chance for members with atypical schedules (in this instance, for example, meaning work that takes place on weekends) to participate in proposal debate and voting process. Second, this Amendment is a practical way for MDCDSA to show its commitment to participation from all members in good standing. Third, this Amendment extends the period during which members may discuss the merits of a proposal. It does not do away with in-person discussions, but explicitly calls for one such session as well as “an online discussion period of at least three days.” Furthermore, “[a]bsentee voting shall be open for three days immediately following the in-person meeting of the members, during which time online discussion shall be ongoing.” This clause grants ample time for both participation and voting from members who can and cannot attend in-person meetings. There are therefore benefits to folks who can attend in-person meetings in this Amendment as well. Finally, MDCDSA has allowed for absentee voting for items such as steering committee elections in the past. This Amendment formalizes the absentee voting process for proposals, ensuring accountability and transparency in the voting process.

I strongly encourage fellow members of MDCDSA to vote in favor of Amendment A.13.1, in the interest of encouraging active and healthy participation from as many members in good standing as possible.

S28: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Zach Wiita, Brandy Brooks

I write in opposition to the proposed Amendment 26 of MDC DSA’s bylaws.

I want to preface this statement by saying that I do not doubt that A26’s sponsors and advocates are motivated by good faith and a sincere commitment to social justice and opposition to oppression. No reasonable person can doubt that there are political organizations in this country and in this region whose agendas are antithetical to true liberation and equality. Nonetheless, I find fault with A26 on a number of grounds, and fear that if it passes it will inadvertently lead to a loss of political clout for MDC DSA, both in electoral and in non-electoral spaces.

1. Organizational Democracy. To begin with, A26 is anti-democratic. Though I am confident that this is not the intention of its sponsors, this is its practical effect. Decisions as monumental as whether or not to endorse a candidate, or to rescind an endorsement, should always — always — reside with the General Body. It is the inherent right of the General Body to weigh the myriad of factors that go into making a political decision of this nature, and it is inappropriate to attempt to remove the General Body’s right to decide whether or not to endorse a candidate through bylaws. If members of MDC DSA believe that a candidate should not be endorsed, then those members should make that case democratically to the General Body. The General Body should then weigh the arguments and the political conditions in which the organization is operating to make its decision.

2. Dysfunction. A26 does make reference to the General Body possibly needing to make a factual determination in the event of disagreement over the invocation of this bylaw. In this event, I anticipate another unintended consequence of A26 would be that procedural battles would occur over such factual determinations; advocates for a candidate disqualified by A26 would move to vote that the candidate has not been found to violate the bylaws, and opponents would move to find that candidates have been found to violate the bylaws. This just pulls MDC DSA down a procedural rabbit-hole of epistemological conflict. It is a recipe for organizational dysfunction.

3. Membership Recruitment and Mobilization. As others have noted, electoral successes for DSA have been essential in recruiting new members and in normalizing both the concept and the label of “socialism” for the general public. For better or for worse, American political culture is dominated by electoral and state political battles; we cannot build power for a socialist movement without electoral successes. These successes reinforce non-electoral work, just as non-electoral work reinforces electoral work and gives ideological credibility to socialist candidates and policies.

Unfortunately however, until such time as democratic socialism gains a level of ideological hegemony in the broader culture it does not currently enjoy, electoral work will inherently require compromises with non-socialist forces, as few (if any) socialist candidates are capable of winning elections without granting concessions (sometimes practical, sometimes rhetorical or aesthetic) to non-socialist interests.

In consequence, if A26 passes, MDC DSA will effectively find itself unable to endorse candidates with an ability to win elections. This will result in a loss of political clout for MDC DSA, and will harm membership growth and retention. The resulting loss of membership will not only harm electoral efforts; I fear that programs such as Stomp Out Slumlords or protests against deportation profiteers will be unable to mobilize enough members and volunteers to achieve their goals. One cannot clog up the eviction machine or draw public scorn to deportation profiteers at their homes if one cannot find more than a handful of volunteers. A26 may well damage all of these efforts.

4. Allied Organizations. In determining how to balance competing interests, MDC DSA should absolutely be mindful of the concerns of allied organizations fighting for the liberation of oppressed minority groups. Fighting against police brutality is a vital part of the broader movement for liberation that MDC DSA and DSA in general need to support, and we have committed ourselves to this support. Nonetheless, it is also important to remember that there is not always broad agreement on what this means within the wider progressive and minority communities. Organizations fighting for equal rights do not always agree on the best ways to fight white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, or economic or religious oppression. It is not the place of a majority-white, majority middle-class organization like MDC DSA to discern who “really” speaks for the best interests of oppressed groups.

This is most obvious in the controversy this past fall over MDC DSA’s endorsement of Montgomery County Councilmember (and longtime DSA member) Marc Elrich in his campaign for Montgomery County Executive. Many MDC DSA members and members of allied organizations such as BY100 raised legitimate concerns over his acceptance of an endorsement from the Montgomery County chapter of the FOP. Yet other organizations fighting police brutality, such as CASA de Maryland (probably the largest Latinx rights organization in the state) and Progressive Maryland, maintained their endorsements and wished for MDC DSA to do so as well. (Indeed, Progressive Maryland’s executive director and MDC DSA member Larry Stafford argued very passionately at our GBM that Councilmember Elrich was one of the most important allies in the fight against police brutality in Maryland.)

And our endorsement benefitted us a great deal. MDC DSA’s independent Montgomery County electoral efforts—knocking on approximately 25,000 doors, likely around 2/3rds of Councilmember Elrich’s eventual primary voters—not only ensured a narrow victory of 77 votes for Councilmember Elrich, but they also bought us an enormous amount of clout with allied organizations. We gained the opportunity to coordinate our independent expenditure campaign with those of organizations such as Progressive Maryland, CASA, UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, SEIU 500, SEIU 32BJ, LiUNA, and the Maryland State Education Association.

Had MDC DSA not had the flexibility to endorse Councilmember Elrich, we would not have had the opportunity to develop strong working relationships with these organizations. Some of these organizations are unions fighting for the rights of working-class Marylanders; others are minority-led groups fighting for equal rights. The cornerstone that allowed us to build these relationships was our electoral endorsement of Councilmember Elrich.

Without this endorsement, we may not have been able to maintain or build these relationships, and there is a strong possibility that our allies would have felt that we had actively damaged the material interests of persons of color in Montgomery County.

I shudder to think of how badly the interests of African Americans, Latinx persons, immigrants, and other minority groups would have suffered had former corporate CEO David Blair (whose company was credibly accused of numerous instances of insurance fraud) won the primary.

These relationships are important. A26’s provisions would harm our ability to maintain these relationships, and would have denied us the ability to build them in the first place. If A26 passes and we find ourselves unable to find effective candidates to endorse, the resulting inability to retain and mobilize members may well cause our allied organizations to come to view us as politically ineffective. This, again, damages our organization’s clout, damages our ability to mobile volunteers for our non-electoral and direct action programs, and generally damages our ability to build working-class power.

And if MDC DSA is unable to intervene in elections in support of candidates who are clearly superior to others on issues such as police brutality and the rights of minorities — and make no mistake, Councilmember Elrich was the only candidate to make racial justice and police accountability a part of his platform; all other candidates avoided the topic entirely — we may inadvertently contribute to a deterioration of the rights of the very communities whose fights for liberation we wish to support.

5. Clout. Finally, a related but more narrow issue comes to mind: the issue of electoral clout. MDC DSA’s strategy in the Montgomery County Democratic primary was to serve as an agenda-setter for the broader progressive community. By endorsing a slate of MoCo candidates early on — Councilmember Elrich; County Council candidates Chris Wilhelm, Brandy Brooks, and Danielle Meitiv; and Maryland House of Delegates candidates Gabriel Acevero and Vaughn Stewart — we were able to strongly influence allied organizations such as Our Revolution, Progressive Maryland, Progressive Neighbors, and the various unions to endorse our “slate.” This strategy worked; had we not had this opportunity due to provisions of A26, it is entirely plausible that the various progressive interest groups would have endorsed a hodgepodge of candidates ranging from decent on some issues but not others, to wolves in sheep’s clothing who only pretend at not being corporate pawns.

Our strategy has also paid off in one area where MDC DSA has yet to cash in its chips: By intervening in the Montgomery County elections, knocking on almost two-thirds of Councilmember Elrich’s voters’ doors, and helping ensure a narrow victory for him of only 77 votes, we have essentially secured a great debt from Councilmember Elrich. He is the frontrunner against an independent (formerly Democratic) County Councilmember named Nancy Floreen who is a pawn of developer interests, and against a joke of a Republican candidate named Robin Ficker. In consequence, when Councilmember Elrich likely takes office as Montgomery County Executive, he will know full well that he owes his victory in significant part to the efforts of MDC DSA.

How much easier will MDC DSA’s efforts to canvass tenants against slumlords in MoCo be if we can secure a standing order for the County Police not to interfere from the County Executive who owes us a favor? How much further will we be able to push the new County Executive on police accountability if he knows that we have the ability to make sure he wins the primary or not? There are numerous opportunities to secure executive branch policy concessions that have opened up as a result of our endorsement and our electoral efforts. These concessions can benefit our political agenda, and can benefit our direct action campaigns as well. We need to be able to cash these chips in—and these chips would not have existed had we not been able to make and keep the endorsements we made.

6. Conclusion. In summary, I believe that A26 endangers our ability to govern ourselves democratically; to avoid organizational dysfunction; to recruit and mobilize members and volunteers for all of our programs; to build and maintain relationships with allied organizations; and to gain the kind of political clout we need to build working-class power. I do not believe that these consequences are intentional and I do not doubt the good faith of A26’s sponsors and advocates. We all care deeply about social justice; this is why we are democratic socialists. But I believe these problems will be very real and harmful to the organization. I strongly urge my comrades in Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America to vote no on A26.

S29: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Chris Hicks, Brandy Brooks

The debate surrounding Amendment 26 and 26.1 has become quite controversial in our chapter, and I’ve been very hesitant about wading into it. I’m only sharing my opinions because I hope for the best outcome of the chapter. I’ve seen multiple people I respect on both sides engage in bad faith arguments on this amendment, from claims that our relationship with CASS is “on thin ice” (it is not and people shouldn’t use them as a political football) to saying it’s passage could result in Working Groups being dissolved immediately (per our Working Group bylaws, this is not the case).

1) It’s unclear why this would be limited to candidates we endorse, and not our own working groups, coalition requirements, ability to sign onto statements, and more. If we’re developing a “red line,” it’s odd that it wouldn’t apply to ourselves. But that raises more questions for me: Would that mean Migrant Justice Working Group needs to stop partnering with Casa de Maryland? Casa de Virginia? Sanctuary DMV? National Day Laborers Organization? United We Dream? Color of Change? They’ve all been involved or invited to our actions, and they all receive Soros funding. If we went through every organization we partner with across the chapter and applied this to ourselves, we’d find ourselves on an island unable to work with many groups capable of making a worthwhile impact.

2) This amendment is a substitute for properly vetting candidates. This is about, and in response to, the Marc Elrich endorsement. Marc’s position on police and law enforcement, which Metro DC DSA was fully aware of and he was asked about at our general body meeting by Doug Ticker, did not change before or after the FOP endorsed him. His politics on the matter welcomed a FOP endorsement. If our goal is to not endorse the same candidate as the FOP (or any other group listed), the solution is to not endorse a candidate that has the politics that would earn them such an endorsement. That means members truly being engaged in the endorsement process and asking questions of candidates, not creating a blanket ban on a list of organizations that allows us to back candidates with politics that don’t align with our chapter. The solution to this problem is to put more onus on our organization to properly vet candidates, which this resolution does not do.

3) This amendment is trying to substitute our endorsement process for meaningful work on racial justice issues. This amendment engages in performative politics, saying that we care about racial justice issues without contributing any work to the people we claim to be taking a stand on behalf of. If the sponsors hope that this amendment will display our commitment to racial justice, it’s misguided to write something about what we won’t do rather than what we will do. We won’t advance racial justice by disengaging from politics, but rather by actively engaging in them. And parts of our chapter are actively in engaged in racial justice causes, such as Migrant Justice taking on GEO Group, CoreCivic, CSRA, and MVM Inc. and Stomp Out Slumlords taking on Sanford Capital and other slumlords, and surprisingly none of this work is included or reflected in the proposed amendment, highlighting how disconnected it is from what our chapter actually is doing. Our work in the community fighting eviction, deportation, or public investment in Wells Fargo does a great deal more to advance racial justice than our internal process for endorsing candidates.

4) This amendment isn’t fully thought out, and leaves a lot of questions that need to be addressed. Does it include pass through organizations? If so, how many layers of pass through? Does it include a look-back? Is it based on the majority of funding, or is it as simple as $1? If it’s a percentage, who is going to be tasked with inspecting that? Regardless if it’s a percentage or a simple dollar amount, who is responsible for pulling Federal Election Commission data and candidate reports to track donations? What happens if they receive an unsolicited donation from a group we’ve listed and we catch it before they do, as donations are often only reviewed quarterly? Would we need to then re-endorse the candidate if they then reject the donation since this creates an automatic un-endorsement? This amendment glosses over these questions, and others, about how something like this would be implemented, and our chapter shouldn’t adopt a bylaw without these questions answered. Passing this amendment in its current form will lead to internal drama and controversy down the road.

I believe that in the best interest of our chapter, the sponsors of these amendments should withdraw them from the Convention and seriously engage with concerns and problems raised by other members. It would be better to build a bylaw with a group reflective of our chapter — the various branches, working groups, and tendencies — to ensure that whatever bylaw we end up with reflects our chapter and our work. We are able to amend our bylaws at any General Body Meeting, and rather than push forward on a controversial and divisive amendment, the sponsors should try to build a new bylaw with consensus that furthers our chapters work and effectiveness.

S30: Against R3 (Mandatory Endorsement Questions)
Signed: Jake W.

I urge the body of MDCDSA to vote against Resolution 3: Resolution on Mandatory Endorsement Questionnaires. Fundamentally the resolution seems to misunderstand the purpose of electoral work, and puts forward a ideological argument divorced from material analysis.

In general, electoral work is done for two reasons. First, it provides an opportunity to accrue state power and translate that into material gains for the working class. Second, DSA’s involvement with candidates can raise the profile of socialist ideas and connect with working class people on political terrain they understand, while building organizational capacity and experience for DSA. When assessing potential candidates for endorsement these things should be heavily considered. An erroneous outcome of endorsement processes is choosing a candidate we have personal connection with but doesn’t fundamentally fit into the two benefits of electoral work. Strategic decisions require that at times we support what is useful to us as a movement, but does mobilize voters around all of DSA’s positions.

It’s with this in mind, that one can only look at the resolution and conclude that it seeks to find the candidate which we most perfectly align ideologically, not the candidate which materially advances the movement.

Consider that these questions, as the resolution is written, must be asked of all candidates for all offices. Does anyone reading this statement know what their school board member’s opinion on reparations for indigenous people is? Moreover, does that opinion, one that as a school board member they have no power over, truly reflect the movement if we endorse?

In multiple cases, the questions ask for positions on issues that are either at the margins of American consciousness, or outright opposed by the majority of working-class Americans. As an organization, our fight for the dignity, and justice of all cannot exclude any groups, but we can think strategically on how to change American consciousness and opinions. It hurts the movement to forgo material benefits on the basis of non-material solidarity with other groups, especially when we hold in our power the ability to organize around these other issues.

For example, though BDS is a moral imperative, if we perform any sort of analysis of American politics as it exists, we can see that BDS only comes up through legislation to ban or restrict it. No elected official in America can or will propose a BDS bill in the near future. Asking candidates to commit to voting against any anti-BDS legislation is a useful demand. Asking candidates to commit to BDS, something they will not vote on or be able to effect in any way, is unproductive. It will harm any candidate dramatically, refocus the campaign on the BDS issue rather than popular, transitional demands, and to what end? Will our BDS supporting elected official actually be able to do anything to help a single Palestinian in any way whatsoever? Is it worth harming the campaign and the movement in the near-to-medium-term for this posturing on a question that will never actually come up for their local office?

Indeed, our level of scrutiny should vary with different offices, different stakes in the election outcome, and differences in the area of the election. This is the essence of material analysis, the purpose of forcing all types of candidates to answer all these questions is with the intent to find something disqualifying.

Many of these questions outlined in the resolution are asked in candidate questionnaires, even more could be added if the people putting forward the endorsement thinks it is relevant, but R3 is an unnecessary resolution. The authors admit that the questions can and should be changed to fit the situation by the general body. At that point it seems unnecessary to add the specific questions to the bylaws, only to have to constantly update them to fit the moment. The passage of A12: Endorsements Committee would create an official mechanism for all all members of the chapter to have a say in what goes in the questionnaire. This seems vastly more democratic and more flexible. The questionnaire process will include input from every caucus and relevant Working Group and jurisdictional formation. There’s no reason to think this process would not reflect the will of the membership, including minority tendencies. R3 is inflexible and undemocratic, and would needlessly hamstring DSA’s ability to engage in serious mass politics.

S31: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates)
Signed: Alex Banks, Coleson Breen, Matteo Colombi, Frank Fritz, John Lacny, Elissa Laitin, Kerry Grace Morrissey, David Reed, Reanne Townsend

Comrades: Please respect the democratic process of comrades in other jurisdictions and vote NO on Amendment 26. Much has been said/written about this amendment already, but we want to bring up an issue that has not yet been addressed.

Our chapter has comrades in DC, Northern Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland. We reside in different electoral jurisdictions — each with its own governance, political and economic landscapes, and differing goals and methods of the socialists who wish to build power in each.

To be frank, we in Montgomery County (MoCo) have felt marginalized from the beginning about decisions made about political work in the county in which we live.

It is our opinion that when it comes to electoral work, comrades should not be making endorsement decisions for comrades who live elsewhere. Our chapter didn’t weigh in on Cynthia Nixon’s endorsement, and neither did comrades in New Jersey, or Connecticut, or California — nor should we. We feel the same way about endorsements made in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

Electoral endorsements are a tactic that, in our opinion, should be the expression of a strategic decision in the competition for political and social power. Therefore, endorsements should be governed by a clearly stated and reasoned approach that identifies goals; connects means and ends; and makes coalitional and organizing objectives explicit.

Endorsements should also be informed by an equally explicit strategic analysis: What is the lay of the land?; Who is big business pushing?; Where is organized and unorganized labor, the small property-owning middle classes, professionals, etc.;? Which are the organized and the non-organized interests, by sector, by identities, by geographies, etc.?

No list of banned organizations can ever replace doing the work of these analyses.

MoCo DSA itself worked hard to hold as open and as democratic a process as possible around our current endorsements. We attempted to have discussions both pre- and post- endorsement, and, with many failings no doubt, attempted to analyze the political economy and from it identify the coalitional opportunities, and some semblance of goals that come with this electoral cycle.

In our branch, the majority (though not all) agreed with the analysis to endorse Marc Elrich for County Executive — as did many unions and organizations like CASA de Maryland. Elrich was, and still is, the only pro-worker and pro-union candidate in the race, and the only candidate who uses racial and economic equity lenses when he analyzes issues in our county.

Our branch has built relationships with groups like the teachers union, SEIU, UFCW, CASA de Maryland (the largest Latino and immigrant advocacy & assistance organization in the state), and others as a result of this electoral work.

In Montgomery County, it is standard practice for unions to endorse local candidates. We see the FOP endorsement as part of the overall convergence of organized labor around the candidate for County Executive who will not go to war against workers in public service.

We are not all equally enthusiastic about Elrich, but we can see that the organized big business interests in our county have mobilized millions of dollars — first to support pharmaceutical executive David Blair in the primary, and now Nancy Floreen — to challenge Elrich from the right. Floreen is a well-known and historical expression of the interests of real estate and finance sectors that have driven housing costs to unaffordable levels in our county.

The Capital vs. Labor divide is stark in Montgomery County, and there is strategic value in knocking out Nancy Floreen in the general election as we knocked out David Blair in the primary.

Again, no list of banned organizations can ever replace doing the work of these analyses.

If Amendment 26 is ratified, it would further marginalize MoCo members in the chapter. This year’s processes of endorsement and un-endorsement were dominated by DC-based DSA members (pro and contra), even though they would not end up being governed by Nancy Floreen or David Blair.

In other words, many of those who drove the endorsement and those who acted against it were divorced from any practical and direct consequences. Their kids do not attend MoCo schools, they are not building coalitions in the county, and they do not have to deal with the hegemonic real estate moguls running candidate after candidate to take Marc Elrich down in order to privatize public services and to make deep cuts that would affect thousands of workers’ jobs, wages and retirement security.

The social and and political landscape in Montgomery County is not where we wish it to be. We are asking you to let Montgomery County members make the decisions they feel they need to make to strategically push it in a socialist direction.

We don’t think we should be able to make those decisions for comrades in DC or Virginia, and though you may disagree with some of our our choices, we ask you not to use your hegemony in this chapter to subvert our analyses and make those decisions for us.

For these and reasons stated by other comrades, we ask you to vote NO on Amendment 26.

In Solidarity,

Alex Banks,
Coleson Breen,
Matteo Colombi,
Frank Fritz,
John Lacny,
Elissa Laitin,
Kerry Grace Morrissey,
David Reed
& Reanne Townsend of MoCo DSA

S32: Against A26 (Duties and Obligations of Endorsed Candidates) and A26.1 (Resolution Based Process to Establish Duties and Obligations)
Signed: Brandy H. M. Brooks, Gabriel Acevero, Danielle Meitiv, Vaughn Stewart, Chris Wilhelm

We the undersigned are candidates from Montgomery County endorsed by Metro DC DSA in the 2018 elections. We unanimously oppose Amendments A26 and A26.1 because they would harm leftist organizing in our county and hinder positive material change in the lives of people in our communities.

All of us are DSA members. We openly identify as Democratic Socialists and advocate for socialist principles. We include people who identify as Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latina and Jewish; people from working class and middle class backgrounds; and people who must actively battle racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, sexism, and housing and economic insecurity every day. Two of us won our primaries for the Maryland General Assembly, and two others tied for 6th in the 33-person Democratic primary for County Council At-Large. DSA’s support in organizing people and resources were critical to these wins and to shifting the political conversation in our county to advance concrete leftist policy change on housing, the economy, education, immigration, labor rights, gender parity, the environment, police reform, and other issues.

There are people within Metro DC DSA, other local DSA chapters, and the national DSA organization who do not view electoral organizing as a primary means of achieving socialist change in our country and our communities. That is anyone’s right, as each of us may choose different paths to pursue our shared goals. Those of us who choose to engage in electoral politics do so because we believe that, in addition to advancing the ideas and principles of socialism, we must have the power to put these principles into action in our institutions and structures. This means that we must have Democratic Socialists in place where they can hold and wield power over the systems that impact our lives. All of us in Metro DC DSA experience daily how the results of federal, state and local elections either help or harm our people and communities. We chose to run for elected office because we believe that we can and must pursue electoral strategies to end the suffering of millions of people across our nation and billions around the globe.

But we must not only pursue electoral strategies — we must actually win elections. Our experience this electoral cycle has made it clear that we can run high-impact campaigns and win state and local elections on bold socialist platforms with candidates who are vocal about and deeply committed to their values. Winning does not mean abandoning what we believe.

We also do not believe in purity. No one — NO ONE — in any DSA organization is a pure example of the principles we hold. Individually and collectively, we struggle with white supremacy, racism, and anti-Semitism; patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the gender binary; elitism and classism; and other manifestations of structural oppression. What is more, we are not uniform about our approaches to addressing these issues. We must constantly negotiate our path forward with one another.

Amendments A26 and A26.1 seek to eliminate that discussion and negotiation process when it comes to police reform and the Israel/Palestine conflict, replacing it with an idiosyncratic “hard line” that undermines our electoral effectiveness, our relationships with other members of our chapter, and our relationships and ability to build power with other members of our communities. The reality is that not all Metro DC DSA members are advocates of police abolition, although we agree that police brutality and abuse of power must end. Not all of us agree on the most just solution for the Israeli and Palestinian people, although we agree that sectarian violence and state-sponsored oppression cannot be tolerated. These are active discussions both within our organization and within the communities where we live.

This hard-line stance neither represents our communities nor protects them. With regard to Marc Elrich’s endorsement, to which this amendment is clearly a response, communities of color would not have been made safer by his defeat in the primary, nor will they be made safer by his defeat in the general election. DSA’s support was and will be essential for both victories. While we share some of the concerns of our comrades around Marc’s acceptance of the FOP endorsement and his silence on the police killing of Robert White, we also recognize that he is a consistent, reliable and committed ally on police reform as well as progressive housing, transportation, education, labor and environmental policy — all issues of critical importance to black and brown communities. We are clear: Marc Elrich, while not perfect, will make a concrete and necessary difference as County Executive in the lives of people of color and working people in Montgomery County.

We also have deep concerns about the specific targeting of Jewish groups in this resolution, and the way that even moderate groups whose approach differs from some DSA members’ preferences are equated with racist, fascist organizations that target both Jews and people of color in their hate speech and action. We would hope that this false equivalence is unacceptable to any of our comrades, regardless of the demographics of their communities. But in a county with a large Jewish population — who are our family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers — this is particularly offensive. We are residents of this county as well as Metro DC DSA members, and this matters to our lives and our community.

Which brings us to our final point. Metro DC DSA covers three distinct jurisdictions with very different local realities. Our colleagues in the District of Columbia or Northern Virginia may determine that these endorsement guidelines would be appropriate for their communities. We may disagree — especially in the case of restrictions which we believe display unconscious bias toward members of our organization and our communities — but we would also work with our comrades to develop a solution that works for their local needs and as well as addressing our concerns. We would not unilaterally impose our perspective to keep them from achieving the change they see is needed in their communities. We trust and respect our comrades, even when we are not in full agreement. We hope the same trust and respect will be given to us: that we are committed to advancing Democratic Socialism, and that we will do so in the ways that best represent and support our local community.

Signed:

Brandy H. M. Brooks, Candidate for Montgomery County Council At-Large
Gabriel Acevero, Democratic nominee for Maryland State Delegate, District 39
Danielle Meitiv, Candidate for Montgomery County Council At-Large
Vaughn Stewart, Democratic nominee for Maryland State Delegate, District 19
Chris Wilhelm, Candidate for Montgomery County Council At-Large

Register to Attend


If you plan to attend the local convention as a voting delegate, please fill out this form. If you have previously registered but cannot attend, or have questions regarding registration, email the Credentials team as soon as possible.

  • To make an accessibility request, please create a Red Desk ticket; select Help Topic: “Event Accessibility Request” and Department: “Internal Organizing”.
  • To make a childcare request, please use this form. Can you help provide childcare? Get trained Sept. 30, 1-3pm at Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library. Cis men are especially encouraged to sign up!

While we encourage all chapter members to be involved in the process, we ask that delegates consider the following guidelines prior to registering:

  • Delegates must have a basic understanding of parliamentary procedure, including Robert’s Rules of Order. To learn about Robert’s Rules, please take advantage of the resources linked in the Rules + Procedures section above.
  • Delegates are expected to review and agree to the Convention Standing Rules prior to registration. The Convention Standing Rules are binding to the convention procedures.
  • Delegates are expected to review all submitted proposals prior to the convention. While deliberation and discussion is encouraged during the convention, delegates should have familiarity with the documents under consideration beforehand.
 

METRO DC DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA

Local Convention October 14, 2018

Organization of the Convention

  1. The Steering Committee is officially responsible for organizing the convention but has delegated its authority to the Local Convention Working Group (LCWG).
  2. The Chair of the LCWG shall serve as the Chair of the Convention and may appoint such assistants as they deem necessary. The Secretary of Metro DC DSA shall serve as Secretary to the Convention, keeping the official record of the Convention, and may appoint such assistants as they deem necessary.
  3. The Local Convention Working Group has created the following committees to assist with its work:
    1. an Administrative Committee, which is responsible for making recommendations to the Convention Chair regarding any issue that arises on the administration of the Convention. Members of this committee will be responsible for Convention logistics, planning, and scheduling. Members of this committee shall act as ombudspersons to facilitate the resolution of problems of process that delegates or delegations may face.
    2. a Proposals Committee, which shall receive resolutions and amendments submitted to the Convention and make recommendations to the Convention on the disposition of resolutions and amendments to the Constitution. The Proposals Committee may propose steps to facilitate consideration of resolutions and amendments, including but not limited to appointing small groups to redraft or combine resolutions, preferably in advance of the Convention, and in consultation with the authors. Where there appear to be differences of opinion, the Proposals Committee may propose alternate amendments that will allow the Convention plenary to concentrate discussion on points of substantive controversy.
    3. a Styles Committee, which shall have the power to rewrite any resolution or bylaws amendments passed by the Convention to make it consistent with the style of the document being amended (i.e. implementing gender neutral language, changing the order of sentences, etc.). The Styles Committee may not make any substantive changes to resolutions or amendments passed by the convention that change their final meaning or interpretation. The Styles Committee will be comprised of members appointed by the LCWG and the authors of all bylaws amendments that were passed by the Convention.
  4. Membership of each committee will be confirmed at the beginning of the Convention.

Delegate Credentials

  1. All members in good standing of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America local that have paid their dues through November 2017 shall be seated as delegates. The Administrative Committee will be tasked with moderating all credentials disputes.

General Procedure

  1. Each session of the Convention has pre-established time limits. The only exception to the established time limits would occur if there is a motion to extend the time approved by the majority of the delegates. Any such motion to extend the time must include a corresponding reduction of time for another session. At the end of each session, the document presented and amendments, if any, shall be voted up or down. Amendments shall be voted first; the document as amended will then also be voted up or down.
  2. Except as provided in these Rules and the Bylaws, the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the proceedings of the Convention. The Chair of each Convention plenary session shall be the sole interpreter of the Convention Rules and may appoint a parliamentarian and such other assistants as needed to conduct the session. Any delegate may appeal any ruling of the Chair to the Convention. The ruling of the Chair may be overturned by a vote in favor of the appeal by a majority of delegates present and voting.
    1. Procedural motions concern how to proceed with a matter such as moving to refer the matter to the Steering Committee or moving to extend or end discussion. Procedural motions may be made at the Convention. In order to be voted on, a procedural motion needs a second. If no other delegate seconds the motion, the motion fails.
    2. Substantive motions concern amendments to the content of Convention documents. No amendments will be allowed from the floor at this Convention as the time limits for amendments are established as part of the organization of the Convention and explained in emails regarding the Convention and on the Convention explainer on the website. Amendments received by the Convention committee at the required times will be part of the discussion of that Convention document.
    3. Point of Personal Privilege — a seated delegate may raise a point of personal privilege at any time. A point of personal privilege pertains only to issues of personal discomfort or needs such as not being able to hear the speaker, etc.
  3. Only delegates and DSA staff members may speak on questions coming before the Convention in plenary session. Speakers on all motions shall be limited to two minutes, unless the Convention accepts a different limit.
  4. Each delegate shall be entitled to one vote on all questions coming before the Convention. All questions before the Convention shall be decided by majority vote of the delegates present and voting. All procedural motions, including a motion to suspend the rules shall require a majority vote, except where otherwise provided in the Rules.
  5. Any amendment or resolution that is to be considered will first be motivated by its author. Then a certain number of speakers will be heard for and against, the number to be determined by the amount of time remaining in the session. When the time for comments for and against is exhausted, the Chair will ask for a delegate to call the question.
  6. Each amendment will be considered separately, one after another. In the interest of time, the Chair of the session will first ask delegates for a show of support for each amendment before it is considered. At least 20 delegates must express initial support for the amendment for it to be heard. If the amendment receives 20 delegates’ support, it will be considered. If it fails to receive 20 delegates’ support, it will not.

Resolutions and Bylaws Amendments

  1. All proposed amendments to the Bylaws or resolutions shall have a sponsor, who is a member in good standing of Metro DC DSA. There may be cosponsors, who are members in good standing.
  2. Proposed amendments or resolutions shall be submitted in electronic form to the Local Convention Working Group no later than September 23, 2017. Amendments or resolutions submitted after September 23rd shall be referred to the Proposals Committee for consideration.
  3. Amendments to proposals must be submitted electronically to the Local Convention Working Group no later than October 6, 2017. Amendments submitted after October 6th shall be referred to the Proposals Committee. On October 7th, the Proposals Committee shall distribute to all Convention delegates a Convention packet listing all bylaws amendments and all resolutions.
  4. Resolutions should consist primarily of statements of policy or outlines for organizational activity. The Proposals Committee will be empowered to remove excess “Whereas” clauses from resolutions.