Convention proposals find many seeking solutions for growing pains, persistent identity issues

The Washington Socialist <> October 2017

/Washington Socialist Report/ Metro DC DSA’s first annual convention in many years (Oct 21) will embody multiple responses to the massive growth in size, scope and mission of what was previously a 300-member local with a core of activists numbering in the double digits. As our comrades in the Greater Baltimore local lament with a smile, “… our membership keeps outgrowing meeting spaces.”

As Metro DC DSA approaches 1,000 members and has two thriving branches outside the District line, questions of structure, organization and comradely relations that were dealt with informally by the previous iteration of Metro DC DSA have taken on more weight.

This is evidenced by the 15 resolutions and 32 bylaws amendments (and counting) submitted as proposals for consideration by the convention. You can read them here.

Many proposals envision new or improved ways of managing the most striking difference between the “before” and “after” MDCDSA – the spontaneous growth of action committees that responded to the real crises brought on by the election and administration of Donald Trump. DCDSA’s action committees on economic justice, environmental and climate crisis, racial and immigrant justice and socialist feminism were significant factors in the growth and visibility of the local chapter, paralleling the growth and visibility of the national organization, now numbering nearly 30,000 and spreading far from its previous bicoastal footprint. Making sure the committees maintain their independence while hewing to the overall political direction and tenor of the general membership infuses many of the proposals.

Others speak directly to the way leadership is chosen and kept accountable. Still others focus on the ways members stay in a comradely relationship with fuller awareness of identity-related practices – an aspect that also, in some proposals, is held to be critical to MDCDSA’s presence and self-presentation on the wider left and among potential future members.

Proposals also address the new requirements of scale, a recognition that the internal work of the organization — managing record-keeping, budgeting and finances, membership development and retention, organizational self-assessment and internal education to enrich a uniquely democratic-socialist organization — entail larger and better coordinated working groups of members along with traditional “officer” elected roles.

And some proposals address substantive issue questions – affirmation of some traditional socialist forms of analysis and of issues that may struggle to stay on the front burner during the urgency of the present crisis.

All these will be considered by the local convention in a six-hour afternoon where casting meaningful votes will demand some familiarity with what the proposals are bringing to the table.

Proposed amendments to those original proposals may be submitted between now – when the original proposals have been posted on the local chapter website – and the October 6 deadline for them.

The convention will offer more than just the grind of voting on proposals. But shaping a socialist organization for a nimble and substantive future with the kind of impact we aim for will take this kind of application.

All paid-up members of national DSA may attend the convention and they are urged to register. It will begin at noon at the Columbia Heights Education Campus (cafeteria/multipurpose room). Accessibility and childcare accommodations are available; email



The Washington Socialist is the newsletter and editorial publication of Metro DC DSA. The views and opinions expressed here may not reflect those of the chapter, and publication of any information should not be considered an endorsement. For our chapter's official statements, please visit the Statements section of our main site.

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