Everything* You Ever Wanted to Know About DSA-LA at the National Convention

Comrades! The National Convention is just around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited! We also couldn’t be more grateful for all of our members’ and delegates’ patience as the Steering Committee navigates the national-level timelines and processes while maximizing opportunities for democratic input at the local level.

 

Here, we’ve compiled some frequently and less-frequently asked questions and answers to help clarify levels of decision-making processes at the local and national level. Enjoy!

 

FAQ

1) What exactly will the DSA Los Angeles delegation be doing at the Convention?

  • Delegations from locals around the country will be voting on DSA National Priorities Resolutions, DSA Political Resolutions, Candidates of the National Political Committee, and Constitutional Amendments.

  • While much of the focus around the Convention has been on these votes--and they are important--it is the the position of the Steering Committee that DSA Los Angeles’ priorities at the National Convention should center on building solidarity with other DSA members and chapters, and gaining valuable organizing skills to bring back and share with our chapter.  

 

2) Are members voting at the Chapter Meeting and Forum on Saturday (7/29) from 3-6pm at UTLA?

  • No-- there is no voting in-person at this meeting.

  • The meeting and forum on Saturday (7/29) is intended to provide a platform for democratic debate, analysis, and discussion, which members can use to inform their individual votes in the online poll.

  • If you have not received the online ballot, please contact the Steering Committee at steeringcommittee@dsa-la.org

 

3) How will chapter members have a voice in the votes the delegates cast at the Convention?

  • An online ballot has gone out to all members to vote on instructions to the delegates, and weigh in on some non-convention chapter decisions, as part of the new chapter decision-making process that Steering is piloting.

  • This ballot polls for chapter opinion on most questions that our delegates will be voting on at the National Convention. The proportional results from this ballot will help inform our delegates' votes and cover the following convention-related topics:
    • Each political resolution,

    • Each proposed amendment

    • Aspects of the NPC vote, but not a poll on each candidate, given National’s timeline.

  • The poll will close on Wednesday (August 2) at 5pm.

    • If you have not received the online ballot, please contact the Steering Committee at steeringcommittee@dsa-la.org

 

4) How will delegates vote at the Convention when there isn’t chapter-wide consensus on specific amendments or resolutions?

  • We recognize that the full chapter will not likely not cast unanimous votes on every amendment or resolution, so we are sharing the breakdown of Chapter-wide voting on each item with delegates and asking them to use that to inform how they vote as a group.

  • Our delegates, as an elected representative body of the chapter have agreed to take these votes into account in casting their votes, but they are not bound or required to vote according to the majority chapter opinion. We’ve also asked that our delegates take into account minority and proportional opinions.

 

5) What is the difference between what we’re voting on in this online poll, versus what we voted on following the June Chapter Meeting and Forum?

  • At the previous chapter meeting, we discussed the results of the straw poll, which we used to inform our chapter-level recommendations on priority resolutions to National.

  • A priority resolution is a campaign or action that Convention delegates will select as DSA National’s top priorities over the next two years. The three that DSA Los Angeles proposed were Universal / Single Payer Healthcare, Anti-Imperialism, and Housing as a Right. Five of these will be selected as National’s top priorities, and National resources will be used to further those Priorities. Priority Resolutions do not directly affect local chapter actions.

  • This coming meeting on the 29th we will be discussing select constitutional amendments and political resolutions, which are political positions that the national organization may take, without necessarily committing to spending significant resources on them.

 

6) Why are we only discussing certain amendments and resolutions at the Chapter Meeting and Forum (7/29)?

  • According to the most recent information made available today, delegates will be voting on 14 Constitutional Amendments, over 40 Political Resolutions, and an unknown number of NPC candidates (the deadline for candidate applications extends to Friday).

  • Given that we have three hours to hold both a Chapter meeting and forum, we cannot feasibly devote time to discussing each item. In order to facilitate a robust and democratic discussion of key issues, we have asked our elected delegates to identify key amendments and/or resolutions that they believe are the highest priority for our Chapter to discuss in person before the Convention.

 

7) How can I weigh in on Convention matters if I can’t make it to the Chapter meeting?

  • You can access our convention poll by clicking here.

  • You can submit analysis on the proposed constitutional amendments and political resolutions that our delegation will be voted on at the DSA National Convention next week using this form. Analysis will be collected and available to chapter members on an ongoing basis as they vote for chapter recommendations to delegates over the next week

 

8) There’s a lot that is being voted on and it’s hard to keep track of. Is there a summary of everything somewhere?

  • The full list of political resolutions can be found here and list of proposed constitutional amendments can be found here.  

  • Analysis written by our members on the resolutions can be found here and analysis written by our members on the amendments can be found here

 

9) Who can submit an analysis on political resolutions or constitutional amendments to be shared with the chapter?

  • All of our members are able to submit analyses for political resolutions or constitutional amendments by filling out this form here.

  • Analysis written by members that have paid both local and national dues will be prioritized above analysis written by non-dues-paying members.

  • Analysis submitted anonymously will not be accepted. Please note that many delegates have already written analysis of several constitutional amendments.

 

10) This all sounds great, but why didn’t chapter discussion about the political resolutions start earlier?

  • Local chapters did not receive a full list of political resolutions until last week, and this list is still not technically *final*.

 

11) Why wasn’t the timeline and this information about the Convention released earlier?

  • Nearly all the timelines, due dates, and information we have received over the past month and half has come unexpectedly – in most cases, the Steering Committee was made aware of information as it was released.

  • Just as our chapter has grown explosively in the past year, so has DSA National. The initial plans for this convention were to be less than ¼ the size it will be now. With that growth has come challenges in consistent centralized communication and far more topics for debate than anticipated or planned for.

 

12) Why isn’t the Chapter voting on NPC candidates before the Convention?

  • People can still apply to run for NPC until the 30th. That means that we won’t be getting a full list of the people running for NPC candidates until mere days before the convention.

  • The Steering Committee feels that this does not provide adequate time to allow members to weigh in on how they would like their delegates to vote. Given the restrictions in place, the Steering Committee decided that the best option would be to trust in our delegates as a democratically elected body to represent the interests of the chapter.

  • Many NPC candidates will not have an opportunity to express their positions about DSA’s direction and priorities until a national call on August 1st, only two days before the election. Having discussion or a chapter vote on such a short timeline would prioritize NPC candidates who declared early on wide-reaching platforms.

 

13) What is our chapter position on the various slates running for the National Political Committee?

  • Because we won’t be holding a chapter-wide vote on individual NPC candidates, we are also not voting on whether or not to endorse any of the slates.

  • However, a group of over ten chapter members have brought a resolution asking the chapter to instruct our delegates to campaign against the centralized slates, but to rather evaluate individual candidates for NPC voting. The resolution would allow our delegates to vote for slate signatories but ask that they consider the signatories individually. This resolution will be voted on in the same ballot, and can be viewed here.

 

14) What if Chapter members want delegates to bring something to the Convention floor that isn’t included in the Constitutional Amendments or Political Resolutions?

  • You are welcome to reach out and communicate that with your delegates. At this juncture, it’s unclear what avenues will be available to delegates to bring such resolutions or ideas to the Convention floor.

  • Regardless of our delegates’ abilities to get such decision to the Convention floor for votes, there will be ample opportunities for our delegates to liaise with other chapters and build solidarity around new ideas and to potentially create cross-chapter campaigns.

 

15) Why did you choose this process for selecting and instructing the DSA-LA delegation?

  • In the absence of formal guidelines, it was Steering Committee’s goal to have DSA Los Angeles’ delegation reflect the democratically determined views of the chapter as much as possible. Ideally, this would have taken the form of having our delegates express their positions on Convention votes during the delegate election process, and then having the chapter elect delegates based on those answers. However, we were required to submit a list of delegates several weeks before any of the Convention agenda was set.

  • Our second preference would have been to facilitate robust discussion among the chapter about the full Convention Agenda in the weeks leading up to the Convention, and to have the debates and discussions inform our delegates votes. However, we have not known most of the details about the Convention Agenda through most of July – indeed, the final agenda is still not set.

  • Faced with the difficult logistics of facilitating discussions across our large chapter on short notice, we’ve tried to strike a balance between offering the chapter an opportunity to express their opinions on the various votes taking place while not burdening our members and delegates with a deluge of last-minute calls for information and debate.

*This blog post may or may not include *everything* but it surely includes many important things, and will be updated continually.