Bringing an Ecosocialist Green New Deal to DSA-LA

Lead Contacts: Max Belasco, Sydney Ghazarian, Daniel Pope, Francisco Cendejas, Kellen Dane, Kelsey Osborne, Carley Towne, Steve Couch

Introduction

The Green New Deal has arrived. Thanks in part to organizational pressure applied by the Sunrise Movement and policy proposals made by DSA member and congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, concerns about climate change and the policies needed to combat it have seized public imagination. In the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were not asked a single debate question about climate change. Now however, Democratic Party presidential candidates face a litmus test as to whether they have a clear vision of how to curb the worst parts of the Earth’s climate catastrophe. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and others have publicly announced their support of Green New Deal legislation and have enshrined it as a core component of their presidential campaigns.

Closer to home, LA politicians have been quick to offer solutions that seek to imitate a Green New Deal. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced a pivot away from gas energy production to more ecologically friendly energy production after facing public pressure. Our city councilpersons have been rumored to be developing their own vision of what a Green New Deal would look like for Los Angeles. The rest of the country will look to California as a model for what a progressive Green New Deal looks like, as much of the national Green New Deal takes cues from our state’s own eco-policies. That national conversation, by necessity, will include Los Angeles and its local initiatives, and we propose that DSA-LA show the country what a real, radical, and ecosocialist Green New Deal looks like.

The popular focus on a Green New Deal reveals promise and peril. Neoliberals and their half-measure reforms have the potential to convince a rightly worried public that climate catastrophe can only be stopped by more capitalism. After all, we know that capitalists will use every weapon in their arsenal to maintain the status quo for their own enrichment. To ensure the enactment of climate policy that can protect all Angelenos, not just the monied and insular bourgeois class, it is our duty as socialists to intervene and own the debate of what a Green New Deal must include. This intervention will be critical not only for the preservation of our city, but also to stake out a leftmost position for the rest of the nation to follow.

DSA-LA, with its political position in the city and the relationships it has fostered throughout its previous campaigns, is well suited to make a intervention in this conversation with global repercussions. Adopting this resolution will ensure that we seize this unique opportunity, and make our mark for the country and world to see.

Whereas:

  • A Green New Deal (GND) resolution, proposed by Congresswoman and Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is the first legislative proposal that could match the extent of far-reaching systemic transformation necessary to address the climate emergency, and do so while uplifting the 99%.
  • A Green New Deal has been forwarded as a litmus test for Democratic Party presidential candidates
  • Neoliberal, establishment politicians and candidates at all levels of government will develop diluted versions of a Green New Deal with policies and measures unfriendly to organized labor, tenants, frontline communities, and the entire working class.
  • City officials will be proposing their own versions of what a Green New Deal will look like for Los Angeles
  • The impending climate crisis affects every arena of social and political life and therefore a strategy for a local GND can be incorporated into existing issue-based Committees’ and Working Groups’ work
  • An impending climate crisis is all but guaranteed if only half measures are taken in restructuring our production and consumption
  • The quickest a national GND could be implemented is 2021 (an unacceptable timeframe to mitigate the worst of the crisis)
  • Truly radical visions for what a GND could look like at the local level will simultaneously build support for more radical measures on a national scale
  • A bold blueprint for a GND at the city level will also expose the limits and contradictions of Democratic politics in LA and California
  • “Policy mixes at a community or provincial level... are especially effective in addressing climate innovation challenges.” - IPCC Special Report

Be it resolved that DSA-LA:

  • Engages in a year-long campaign to win truly ecosocialist Green New Deal policies for Los Angeles by upholding and expanding upon the full scope of the Green New Deal Resolution proposed by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey, and pushing it further left.
  • Works in coalition with frontline and environmental justice groups, labor unions, tenants rights organizations, and others to ensure truly intersectional GND policy gains.
  • Develops a series of fora, teach ins, and educational programs aimed at educating Los Angelenos of what shape an ecosocialist vision of Los Angeles would take.
  • Organizes actions and rallies in support of GND policies and targets individual and organizational barriers to their passage.
  • Convinces and pressures city officials and politicians to take more explicitly GND positions in the upcoming year.
  • Organizes locally, regionally, and nationally to establish an ecosocialist vision of the Green New Deal as the legislative standard at all levels of government
  • Works collaboratively with other DSA organizing bodies and coalition partners across the country that are engaging in GND campaigns, while leveraging our collective influence to pressure surrounding municipalities, the federal government, and 2020 political candidates to adopt an ecosocialist GND policy platform
  • Works on a GND priority locally with the explicit aim of making GND a national DSA priority
  • Directs its organizing efforts to supporting GND legislation for the November 2020 election
  • Embraces the strategic opportunity that a GND presents in advancing additional and diverse socialist demands within inevitable legislation

I. Resolution Description & Timeline

The anthropogenic climate crisis is an existential threat to nearly all life on earth, and failure to immediately suppress greenhouse gas emissions will result in millions- if not billions- of deaths in the near-term. As our current economic system continues it’s innate process of expansion and extraction, it is clear that only a socialist future can save us from this brink.

This crisis is at a moment where immediate action is imperative and half measures are equivalent to non-action. To build the future necessary for both our collective liberation and a livable planet, DSA-LA should direct it’s organizing efforts to pursuing an ecosocialist Green New Deal with a commitment to Climate Justice. The resolution calls for mass mobilization and a multi-pronged campaign aimed at shaping what form a Green New Deal would take in Los Angeles. That campaign would be anchored by:

Community Outreach and Base Building
As the Green New Deal is set to be a key point of discussion in the presidential primary and national politics, we aim to seize the opportunity to incite a conversation with the public about what a ecosocialist Los Angeles would look like. Some of this will involve targeted canvassing of neighborhoods - ones we have built a relationship with through Prop 10 and Jackie Goldberg, as well as locations we aim to build longer term strategic relationships with.

A canvassing program however does not alone build a base. We want to use these canvassing opportunities to get neighborhoods involved in local actions against ecological issues in their own backyard, as well a set up a series of community forums where as a neighborhood we think through the more abstract ideas of a Green New Deal. For instance, canvassing in Aliso Canyon could be paired up with a conversation with gas plant utility workers and policy makers about what a just transition to ecological fuel resources look like.

Public Education and Advocacy
In the year to come, we expect Green New Deal proposals to come out from local city officials, candidates challenging incumbents in upcoming elections, as well as local policy think tanks. As an organization only beholden to our membership and our socialist ideals, we can play an important role in the city conversation by inviting the community to participate and articulating our own standards of what a Green New Deal would look like. In addition to community forums, we also propose university and high school visits. This is a great opportunity to strengthen relationships we forged during the teacher strike as well as to build new relationships in schools where we have or desire a YDSA presence, providing literature geared not only at students but their parents as well.

In addition to this, by articulating our own policy platform of what an ecosocialist Los Angeles Green New Deal would look like we can present clear position differences that force city officials and decision making bodies to respond to. This does not have to be a platform reimagined from scratch, but one that incorporates the thinking committees have already thought through and incorporating it into a grander narrative of what a Los Angeles for the working class looks like.

Member Organizing
We also see the Green New Deal as an opportunity to activate membership across the city into doing local organizing that includes their own neighborhoods. Throughout our canvassing and community forums, we want to include local members in creating these events that will also result in the expansion of chapter capacity. Opportunities for neighborhood organizing beyond those tactics will vary from location to location, but can include:

  • Organizing tenants to demand their landlords make necessary and overdue housing upgrades that would improve living conditions, provide utility cost relief to working class tenants, and improve the carbon footprint of existing housing.
  • Organizing against gas plants and companies involved in detrimental waste dumpage and other energy and utility companies through direct action and awareness campaigns. A guiding principle of this anchor is to approach issues on the hyperlocal level to embed the chapter within community life, and build meaningful relationships with those communities.

This resolution will require the following chapter resources:

  • Periodic canvasses in support of local policies and candidates who support GND policies we’ve endorsed
  • Phone banking and technologies for mobilizing membership
  • Training for membership to safely and effectively engage in various tactics
  • Use of Chapter social media
  • Forums, teach-ins, and educational materials that highlight the intersections between climate justice and existing committee work
  • Power-mapping projects related to GND
  • Materials related to GND at Chapter events
  • Short period at each Chapter meeting to report on GND work
  • Chapter treasury funds for materials, spaces, and other GND campaign-related expenses

Timeline:

May - July

  • Steering Committee will convene committee leadership and interested members of the chapter to come deliberate on how each committee wants to approach the Green New Deal and accomplish the following tasks:
    • Develop educational materials aimed at explaining a Green New Deal For Los Angeles
    • Research the political landscape of the city and identify potential allies and barriers in the form of local officials or decision making bodies
    • Power-map in Los Angeles
    • Identify local ecological concerns to build local support around.
    • Build relationships with labor, housing, and environmental justice organizations to get buy-in developing a Green New Deal For Los Angeles.

August - September

  • Chapter recruitment and training of members interested in leading actions, canvassing, and public education forums. Regular meetings are held to get a critical mass of members on the same page for what that vision needs to look like.

October - December

  • Public education forums start being held throughout the city covering local neighborhood issues as well as city and state-wide concerns.
  • Canvassing, public demonstrations, and direct actions begin on the neighborhood level.

January - March

  • California’s primary happens in March on Super Tuesday, and is expected to be a major prize should the primary still be contested at that time. With the local support we have built we use that to influence what remaining candidates exist in the race.
    • Public demonstrations or confrontations of candidates who need to be moved on their Green New Deal policies
    • Making candidates aware of the support we have garnered for our vision of Los Angeles, and demand that their climate policies reflect that vision.

II. Aligned Organizational Priorities

Internal Organizing and Infrastructure:
Climate crisis touches and will touch every aspect of our organization’s work because climate determines the material conditions under which we organize. The Green New Deal, as a response to this crisis, therefore encompasses all DSA national and local priorities.

The Green New Deal Resolution proposal by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey addresses the focus of many DSA-LA issue-based committees. Through an analysis of climate, organic links appear between the work of all of our committees. Working on the issues our committees represent with a lens of climate and Green New Deal campaign organizing will develop internal infrastructure suited to unify our committees around common goals.

With this in mind, we looked to develop a campaign where each component played a role in building out our chapter’s capacity. Incorporating every committee’s analysis allows us to uplift and center each committee’s role in promoting the Green New Deal. For example, we see Political Education and Climate Justice working with YDSA to create educational modules that can be done at high school and colleges where we have a YDSA presence. Additionally we can see Labor and Prison Abolition working on what a green jobs pipeline looks like and how we can work with reentry organizations to ensure stable, solid, green union jobs to those that may need it while transitioning back into city life. We also designate a time in the timeline where we provide mass trainings for members interested in working on Green New Deal and give them the practical skills to lead canvasses, direct actions, community forums, and school visits. Every component of this campaign should include a mechanism where we build our internal capacity, and also assess just how effective each program was.

Strategic Partnerships:
The GND is an opportunity to build broad coalitions between various issue-based and progressive organizations locally, regionally, and nationally. Through common work and resource-sharing we multiply our power and expand our capacity to act collectively.

Mobilization and Member Capacity:
The grim reality of climate crisis is quickly politicizing and radicalizing many people looking for opportunities to enact solutions. The broad, system-level transformation implied by the Green New Deal resolution encompasses a wide array of issues people are already committed to organizing for. By making the Green New Deal an organizational focus, we can attract many new members, develop new leaders, engage existing membership, and build capacity for organizing on multiple fronts.

Component 3: Outline the ways this resolution would offer opportunities to engage new and active members, and intentionally build a broader base of engagement and membership in our organization throughout Los Angeles County.

DSA-LA has a strong and capable core of organizers in its membership, but one ongoing struggle the chapter has had is how to involve members who have a more limited amount of time to engage with the chapter’s politics. For this campaign to be successful we need to engage a wide array of members, core to paper, in being able to contribute to building political will for a Green New Deal.

For that reason we aim to work with Membership in identifying members who have stepped up several times but are not commonly seen in chapter leadership roles, and invite them to be part of hosting forums and being captains for actions and canvasses. Identifying these members and giving them sufficient training prior to performing their roles not only develops buy-in but also commitment to the ongoing campaign. We hope from recruiting from this group of members we can not only expand our chapter’s bandwidth, but bring more activist members into the core.

What the chapter learned from the UTLA Strike was that engaging less active to paper members can also be useful, as what was seen in the Tacos for Teachers fundraising drive. A similar “e-solidarity” program can implemented, where members can be given phone numbers to call, local officials to write, and other low level asks that can be done from a computer or their home.

IV. Committee and Working Group Cooperation

Climate Justice
The Climate Justice Committee of DSA-LA recognizes the current moment as an historical apex; one that must end with the dismantling of capitalism as well as the reconstitution of society and its relationship to the Earth. The Green New Deal is a pathway toward that future. The Climate Justice Committee could:

  • Work in tandem with other committees and coalition partners to establish climate- and thus ecosocialism- as intrinsic to all of our organizational work, with specific focus on the GND.
  • Organize educational events, materials, actions, and coalition building efforts to establish an Ecosocialist GND in Los Angeles.
  • Engage climate and environmental justice organizations to collaborate on a local GND.
  • Collaborate locally, regionally, and nationally to establish ecosocialist GNDs.

Labor
Over the last couple years, the Labor Committee has built strong relationships with labor unions such as UNITE HERE, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and labor oriented organizations such as the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). The committee has also identify high member density in such labor locals at IATSE. It also has helped to ensure DSA has a recognizable presence at the County Fed, particularly in preparation for the annual May Day March. Using these relationships Labor can help broker DSA’s involvement in local labor initiatives that match with our independently developed GND demands, as well as provide an avenue to educate union members about the importance of GND as a primary initiative. We see Labor as taking particular GND planks such as:

  • Education initiative of workers rights in light of rapid climate change
    • Right to masks to curb inhaling of dangerous chemicals during wildfire
    • Address lack of air conditioning in working environments
  • Construct new worker-owned and self-managed enterprises rooted in sustainable methods of production
  • Enact various means of appropriation of the existing enterprises by their workers, which would transition these industries into sustainable practices or in some cases phase them out entirely
  • Address the class’s immediate and medium-term need for jobs and stable income around the expansion of existing “green” industries: healthcare, education
  • Use the spotlight on the Green New Deal to raise working class consciousness among its broad audience, specifically in regard to workers withholding their labor to leverage power over capitalists and politicians to win demands for the common good
  • Establish buy-in from labor organizations for an ecosocialist GND

Political Education
Being the educational core of the chapter, Political Education can play a key role in tying together the various analyses of the committees to articulate what a GND would look like for Los Angeles. The committee could also play a role in the programming of the forum - not just in the content, but also in the form so that each of these programs remains an engaging and compelling experience.

  • Work with issue-based committees and WGs to highlight the intersection between capitalism, climate, and housing/healthcare/immigration justice/labor/etc. in the form of forums, teach-ins, materials
  • Work with YDSA and Labor Committee to develop High School and College GND modules, which can be provided to contacts made through the UTLA Strike and our YDSA chapters.

Electoral Politics
We anticipate Electoral Politics to play a key role in how the chapter interfaces with the Democratic Presidential Primary, but we also would like to see the chapter work with the committee to develop our chapter’s relationship with local city officials and decision making bodies. We would like to work with Electoral Politics to:

  • Power-map city officials and decision making bodies that may play a role in obstructing GND demands and help assess where we may have leverage.
  • Develop targeted canvassing programs to apply pressure or build political will for local demands (e.g. more solar panel grids in the neighborhood, stop dumping into a local lake, etc.)
  • Work with members from smaller municipalities (Santa Monica, Pasadena, etc) where the chapter has a large number of paper members to help foster educational forums and lead delegations to local official offices demanding support for Green New Deal demands.
  • Work on establishing the endorsement of an ecosocialist Green New Deal as an electability standard inside and outside of DSA-LA.

Immigration Justice
What will ultimately distinguish our vision of a Green New Deal than from many forwarded by liberal Democrats is its careful attention to intersecting issues and ensuring that policies made to stanch the worst effects of climate disaster do not foster new oppressions for other

marginalized groups. Immigration Justice, in conjunction with other committees, can work to expand understanding on need for a Green New Deal that centers transnational solidarity as well as understanding the neoliberal capitalist roots of climate change that have affected industries and labor in the Global South.

  • Work collaboratively with the Political Education, Climate Justice, and Agit Prop committees to develop widespread understanding of the intersections of immigration and climate crisis
    • Work collaboratively to expand the scope of the Green New Deal to encompass immigration justice and international solidarity
  • Engage other immigration justice organizations to fight for an ecosocialist GND that encompasses immigration justice and international cooperation
  • Work with the Labor Committee on matters of transnational solidarity and understanding how climate change has affected labor in a global context.

Mutual Aid
Climate change has and will continue to devastate communities, including Los Angeles. Disaster capitalism has plagued Puerto Rico and New Orleans long after their devastating hurricanes, revealing the parasitic strategy of the ruling class during times of desperation. Mutual aid can be utilized to foment community relationships- particularly those with coalition partners- that are desperately needed during crisis. Mutual aid can also strengthen direct actions by providing necessary support that can increase the commitment and comfort of participants. Mutual Aid can:

  • Provide support in events, actions, and coalition-building efforts
  • Highlight the role of disaster capitalism in climate crisis
  • Work with community members to meet their needs during disasters and inform ways the LA GND can do so more effectively
  • Work with regional chapters to develop disaster relief trainings and share practices

Healthcare
The Green New Deal Resolution forwarded by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey explicitly includes universal healthcare for all, which aligns with our Medicare for All national DSA priority. Climate and healthcare are deeply intersecting issues, especially in the realm of Labor where many of our partners are also pushing for healthcare style reforms in the California. While many neoliberal organizations and politicians will push for Green New Deals that neglect healthcare needs, socialists must fight for the inclusion of a single payer type program as a necessity in the GND. Some areas of work we can see Healthcare playing a role in is:

  • Develop educational materials with the Climate Justice and Political Education committee
  • Promote the concept of environmental justice as intersectional with healthcare justice, ensuring clean air and water has to be part of a comprehensive healthcare plan.
  • Promote the concept of decommodifying healthcare as intrinsic to any adequate climate policy
  • Promote the expansion of Long Term Care workers, Nurses, etc which are green jobs.
  • Work with the labor committee to gain support from nurses and care workers for the GND

Housing and Homelessness
The Green New Deal Resolution proposed by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey includes providing “all people of the United States” with “affordable, safe, and adequate housing (pg 13-14).” The actual policies that will address this section have yet to be determined: how we organize on the ground will determine the outcome. Land use and the decommodification of necessities are key elements in building a sustainable future. Therefore, socialists and housing activists can play a strategic role in developing a GND narrative that addresses these underrepresented aspects while fighting for the inclusion of housing justice elements such as ‘green’ public housing and universal rent control in local and national GNDs. We would like to work with Housing and Homelessness to:

  • Develop educational materials, events, and a media strategy to address the intersection of climate, housing, and land use, as well as housing justice as part of the GND.
  • Engage tenant rights and housing justice organizations to work with us in coalition for a truly ecosocialist, intersectional GND

AgitProp

  • Work with DSA-LA Committee and Working Groups to provide the materials they need both for external and internal outreach. We will work alongside them to conceptualize media ideas that will boost their work, help spread their message, and win public support.

YDSA

  • Work with local chapters to host campus forums and actions
  • Create high school and education modules to provide to teacher contacts made during the UTLA strike

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