SMDSA Calls on NPC to Defer Sanders Endorsement to National Convention

For Immediate Release, March 12, 2019
SMDSA Co-Chairs Kate Sykes & Jon Torsch

Introduction

A petition has circulated asking members and chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to call to defer the decision to endorse Bernie Sanders to the highest body of our organization – the National Convention – where delegates from every chapter have a say. Signatories already include chapters and individuals in early primary states (Iowa, Nevada), in Super Tuesday states (Alabama, California), and the entire Libertarian Socialist Caucus. Maine has not set its 2020 primary/caucus date yet, but in 2016 it was among earlier caucus states.

Our chapter organizes in a rural, purple, low-population state. We utilize multiple tactics to win both power and improved material conditions. The fights we have taken on include mandatory paid sick time for workers, increased campaign finance reporting, and increased notice for tenant evictions and rent increases. Our victories have stemmed primarily from holding to our core tenet – that everyone affected by a decision should have a say in that decision. For this reason, and others discussed further below, our chapter has voted to sign this petition.

Makeup of the NPC

The National Political Committee (NPC) of the DSA is a body of representatives responsible for guiding DSA’s major organizational goals as determined by the delegates to the National Convention. The NPC consists of sixteen (16) individuals elected at our biennial National Convention. Since election in 2017, four (4) NPC members have been replaced by individuals appointed solely by the NPC. Of the current makeup, roughly twelve (12) of the sixteen (16) members of the NPC are from large cities (populations over 700k).

The NPC appoints members to a National Electoral Committee (NEC). NEC members are not elected, and similarly, roughly eighteen (18) of twenty-five (25) members are from large cities (700k+). Still, the NEC is the national body empowered to execute the NPC’s political strategy by assisting locals and recommending national endorsements.

Undemocratic Process

In October 2018, the NPC voted to bypass the NEC and form a separate “Exploratory Committee for the 2020 Presidential Primary” consisting of nine (9) appointed members. This committee was charged with drafting a proposal for an endorsement process in the 2020 presidential primary as well as develop a “high-level” campaign plan for a potential 2020 presidential campaign, and reporting that proposal back to the NPC.

In January 2019, the Exploratory Committee reported back to the NPC, again bypassing the NEC, with their “Report from the Exploratory Committee for the 2020 Presidential Primary”. The NPC received alternate proposals and amendments but rejected all of them – including those proposing more bottom-up input, such as adding voting members from the states with early primaries – to ultimately approve their commissioned Exploratory Committee proposal.

The approved process required the NPC to vote on endorsement within a month of Sanders announcing his presidential campaign. In response to the critique that members were not being consulted in this decision, National DSA released a poll to all members. The poll is primarily flawed in that it is a “non-binding advisory poll,” but further concerns include only allowing “Yes” or “No” responses and not including decisions or feedback on implementation, level of resources to commit, whether we should do an Independent Expenditure, what the timeline is, or if the decision should be deferred to the National Convention.

Several NPC members have stated publicly how they will be voting on the endorsement. Making these statements prior to the completion of the advisory poll implies that poll results or chapter statements will not impact their decisions.

Concerns with Campaign and Candidate

The proposal itself introduces several problems that need more time to be addressed. The merits and challenges of a Bernie endorsement need to be discussed further. The Independent Expenditure campaign introduces questions of legal liability and the possibility of schisms between members who want to work with both DSA and the official Bernie campaign. We should know how much of our finances – primarily funded by member-paid dues – are going to be committed to this project. Members should be provided the National budget alongside this, which is now almost two months past-due, in order to determine how much we feel comfortable committing. DSA members have been struggling for sex work decriminalization, an end to imperialism, and immigration justice; the decision to endorse a candidate who has a complicated background with the very issues we care about must come from membership. We need to have a discussion as an organization if we even want to endorse candidates that haven’t asked us for endorsement. These are just a sample of the issues that rank and file members still don’t have answers to.

Conclusion

We feel that the NPC should implement decisions made by members, rather than the other way around. We believe we need an organization that hears these critiques and answers these questions in order to create an alternative, direct democracy. We believe in a bottom-up model of power, not in restricting power to a select few with the time, ability, resources, and connections to hold higher offices.

Southern Maine DSA is joining the call to ask the NPC to defer the question of endorsing Sanders to the 2019 National Convention. We believe, above all else, that anyone affected by a decision deserves to have a say in that decision, and we do not feel that this tenet has been a cornerstone of this process.

 

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or this statement please contact us by email at DSA.SouthernMaine@gmail.com

http://southernmainedsa.org/

http://www.dsausa.org/

Get revved up about revolution this October

Happy October, comrades! It’s the month of revolution. So, what better way to spend it than by reading about a historic revolution from Octobers past?

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a major achievement in the socialist movement, a blow against capitalism and its hold over the world. It’s also still hotly debated and dissected today, 101 years later. To help you get through this time in history and the years that followed, the Southern Maine DSA Education Committee has compiled a recommended list of books on the Russian Revolution.

All of these books are available in the Southern Maine DSA library, and you can borrow any of them by filling out this request form, or by requesting one of the books from our chapter librarian, Marc Normandin, at one of our meetings or events.

And, if you would like to learn even more about the Russian Revolution, the Education Committee will be hosting a presentation and discussion of the historic event on October 22, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Room in the Reiche Community Center. Todd Chretien, editor of Eyewitnesses to the Russian Revolution, will lead this event.

To wrap up our month of focus on the Russian Revolution, this month’s book club entry is V.I. Lenin’s The State and Revolution. You can find this book in our library, at various booksellers, or for free online at Marxists.org. This book club meeting will be held at Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook, ME, on November 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Solidarity!

2017 New England Solidarity Summit October 6-8

Join Democratic Socialists from all across New England for a weekend-long retreat to build camaraderie across state lines at the inaugural DSA New England Solidarity Summit, October 6-8, 2017.

This weekend is an opportunity for DSA members in New England to build relationships with people doing similar work in neighboring areas, talk theory, strategize, and have fun.

“By coming together for a fun, engaging weekend we fight the isolation brought on by exploitative wage labor and get an opportunity to collaborate and create new means of building people power back home,” said Southern New Hampshire DSA Co-Chair, Chloe Wojewoda. “We’re a new chapter and a lot of us are new to organizing entirely. We want to see what’s been working in other places and how we can best grow our group to strengthen democracy and socialism in New Hampshire.”

Attendees include members of Southern Maine DSA, Southern New Hampshire DSA, Boston DSA, Providence DSA, Worcester DSA, Clark University YDSA.

DSA comrades can participate in a wide variety of events and activities, ranging from purely social to strategic and educational. Activities are geared toward developing relationships between chapters and individuals.

This event is open to dues paying DSA members only. A “meet the public” pumpkin carving event will be open to the general public on Saturday, 6-8 PM. All are welcome to attend.

When:
Friday 10/6: 4pm – 11 pm
Saturday 10/7: 10 am – 8 pm (self-organized evening activities)
Sunday 10/8: 10am – whenever!

Where:
Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray Street, Portland ME 04102

Contact:
Chloe Wojewoda, Southern New Hampshire DSA: chlowoj@gmail.com

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council

Monday July 24, 2017

For Immediate Release:

The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted overwhelmingly on Monday, July 17 to endorse Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council. Brunelle is the first candidate to be endorsed by the chapter. “We’re proud to continue the energy of the Bernie Sanders campaign and bring it to the local level with our first endorsed candidate,” said Chris Teret, Southern Maine DSA Chair. “We need a voice for the working class in city government, not another friend to the real estate developers and the business class that currently dominates the council. Joey Brunelle is an intelligent, articulate voice for the interests of the working class majority.”

In response to the chapter’s endorsement, Brunelle said, “The Democratic Socialists of America is the single fastest-growing political action group in the country right now. They’re hard-working, everyday Americans who believe strongly in the democratic process and who are fighting for economic and social justice at every level. It’s an honor to have the endorsement of such an energized, principled group of people.”

Brunelle is running in the at-large race on a platform of affordability that includes rent stabilization and property tax relief for Portland residents. “I believe we need to take care of everyone in society, including those who don’t have the means to take care of themselves, and we need to make decisions about how to do that in a more collaborative and participatory way,” Brunelle said. He also intends to improve and expand public transportation, lead municipal efforts to fight climate change, support and empower public schools, and make government more transparent and accessible to all. His plan to bring participatory budgeting to Portland will give residents more say in how their neighborhood allocates city funds. “I believe the people who know best what a neighborhood needs are the people who live there,” Brunelle said. Similar models are currently used by over one thousand cities worldwide.

The Southern Maine DSA is adding its grassroots volunteer energy to Brunelle’s all volunteer campaign, which is not accepting funds from PACs, real estate developers, or out of state donors. “I’m running a clean election campaign because I want to be accountable only to the residents of Portland,” Brunelle said. Chapter members are expected to knock on hundreds of doors in Portland this summer to get out the working class vote for Brunelle.

Portland City Council races are non-partisan, and the Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their lives. For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or its endorsement process, contact us at DSA.SouthernMaine@Gmail.com

 

Running for Office? Apply for our Endorsement!

Voters of all political persuasions are sick and tired of establishment party politics. They want elected officials who work for them, not the interests of an elite few. In cities across the country, DSA-endorsed candidates are winning at the ballot box by running campaigns free of corporate money, and making it clear what together we can achieve: a government for the people, by the people.

Some of our recent victories include DSA member Dylan Parker who was elected to Rock Island, IL’s City Council in April of this year. His success was followed shortly by khalid kamau’s City Council win in South Fulton, GA. They join Carlos Rosa, Alderman of Chicago’s 35th ward as Democratic Socialists who are working to make the development of cities more socially and economically equitable.

The DSA of Southern Maine endorses candidates running for office in Southern Maine, regardless of party designation, whose platform is in substantial alignment with our principles. Apply today!