The Washington Socialist <> December 2018
By Elizabeth Stafford
Beginning with internal news, I’m strangely excited to announce my impending retirement as co-chair of the Northern Virginia Branch of Metro DC DSA. NoVA will hold our second-ever executive board elections in February 2019. I was present at the first branch meeting in June 2017, back when we were still a scrappy little organizing committee, and it has been a privilege to take part in the incredible 18 months of growth that have followed. The election process will formally kick off in February, and in the meantime any branch member interested in running for secretary or co-chair should reach out to a current executive board member with questions.
Also coming in February 2019 is the first-ever Virginia Statewide DSA Convention in Richmond. Open to all DSA and YDSA members in good standing (up to a maximum of 10 attendees per chapter), the Convention is an opportunity to meet comrades from across the Commonwealth to share skills, build solidarity, and plan for our brighter Socialist future. NoVA members will receive a Save the Date email with more details and next steps in the coming weeks.
Several campaigns from 2018 will carry over into the new year, including the effort to formally sever ties between the City of Alexandria Sheriff’s Department and ICE. New mutual aid and solidarity building efforts from the Socialists of Faith and Brakelight Replacement working groups are on the horizon, along with many others. Out of a busy organizing calendar, two projects in particular stand out.
The first clear organizing priority for 2019 is building up a coalition to counter the ridiculous proposal that was offered up to Amazon on our behalf. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that HQ2 (even just half of HQ2) will have on Crystal City, NoVA, and the Commonwealth overall. Governor Northam’s economic development team spent $2M just creating the bid, which includes $550M in incentives, $195M for transportation projects in the HQ2 “campus” area, and up to $767M to subsidize higher ed programs to feed the tech talent pipeline. All told, the total number of investments and incentives for Amazon could easily be over a billion dollars. Every dollar in this proposal is a dollar diverted away from housing, public infrastructure, or any number of civic priorities to feed the greed of a multi-billion dollar company in one of the richest areas of the country. Whether you are passionate about affordable housing, labor rights, carbon emissions reduction — or maybe even all of the above — you will find something to be fired up about in this proposal. HQ2 is the literal behemoth of capital that threatens us all, so we’re building up our coalition — DSA members from NoVA, Metro DC, and New York have been organizing with Our Revolution Arlington and Jobs with Justice to establish a concrete plan of action to fight back and secure the best possible outcome for our community. For more info, please check out the #regionalamazon slack channel or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other major story for Virginia in 2019 is electoral: All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 seats in the Senate are up for election. The Republican majority in each chamber is razor thin, and if the current special session to address 11 racially gerrymandered districts is resolved favorably we may have a decent chance of flipping both chambers in a Democratic trifecta. Of course, “turning Virginia blue” isn’t a goal in and of itself, but doing so in advance of the post-2020 redistricting could change the entire character of Virginia’s federal and state congressional map. We will have many opportunities to work with ally organizations like La ColectiVA, Tenants and Workers United, and New Virginia Majority to mobilize communities, resource grassroots campaigns, lobby for policies like enshrining the enfranchisement of formerly incarcerated persons in the state constitution, make corporate Dems uncomfortable as needed, and maybe even endorse some socialists. In the lead-up to the election, the newly created Electoral Endorsements Committee will require significant input from NoVA members. Perhaps one of us should even act as co-chair! If you are interested in that opportunity, please see info in #announcements or #electoral.
This is only a small sample of what is to come in 2019. It’s a daunting list — after all, we are trying to change the world — but I look forward to standing side by side with you all as we do the work together.