Chapter News

DSA 2019 Convention Recap

October 17, 2019

The 2019 DSA Convention was a weekend of nonstop organizing with socialists from every local DSA chapter in the country. It’s an event that happens once every two years, and considering DSA’s explosive growth since 2016, there was a lot to do.

In terms of the official outcome of our debates and votes, there’s a lot to be proud of, and a lot of ways to get support for local causes we care about. Medicare for All and labor organizing remain top priorities for DSA at the national level, joined by new top-level priorities in immigration justice, ecosocialism, and housing justice. Secondary national campaigns in cash bail abolition, police and prison abolition, paid family leave and universal pre-K, and electoral organizing round out the major commitments that we set for DSA.

We also created significant resources in support of the membership: funds for child watch at meetings, support for chapter growth in marginalized communities, security and marshalling training, a Spanish-language version of the national website, and training in political education and fundraising. The new Antifascism and Direct Action Working Group was a point of intense debate, and I look forward to learning from the training materials that this group develops.

The International Committee and the Immigrant Rights Working Group are now joined by a Decolonization Working Group and a BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group. One of my favorite outcomes from the Convention is that we voted overwhelmingly in support of the demand for open borders.

The major unresolved question from the Convention is what the structure of the national organization should look like. The only change to our national bylaws was the closing of a small loophole, but many proposals for restructuring DSA were left undiscussed. The new National Political Committee, the highest body of DSA between Conventions, will be leading a process to help the membership make decisions about restructuring. It seems likely that some kind of regional structure will be created, but the specifics are still up for debate. And they will certainly be debated!

Aside from all the official voting, I spent my time as a delegate trying to make connections with as many comrades as possible, whether helping one another with the rules during debates, sharing experiences during breakout sessions, or just walking together through downtown Atlanta. Spending time on the Convention floor, thinking hard about how each vote might help us build more power as the working class, was important but also exhausting. It was in the time I spent with other organizers off the floor—sharing resources, singing radical music together, describing what we love about our local communities and how we’re building power—that I truly felt DSA’s strength in the collective bond among members. Being at the Convention helped me further commit to socialist organizing, and it helped me appreciate the work of my Salem DSA comrades even more.