The autonomy of local DSA branches has become a flashpoint during the run up to this NPC election. There have been calls for more centralization of political education, as well as a national campaign that would be DSA’s main organizing focus for the next year.
I believe that National DSA should help co-ordiate chapter’s activity across the country, but that local’s should have the autonomy to assess how they will interface with national struggles and campaigns. Historically successful movements for social change in the United States have given local organizers freedom to come up with creative dynamic ways of confronting local manifestations of injustice and oppression. If a local fight sparks national attention, national leadership should be working to boost that struggle and give it the profile it needs to succeed. DSA’s decentralized, democratic nature is what many of us found inviting in the first place, and the potential to build on anger in the grass-roots is going to happen organically from the bottom up, not from top down directives.
NPC’s traditional role has been a largely administrative one, and there is a resolution to depoliticize NPC and to move political questions to the local level. I joined the race for NPC because I became alarmed that some groups were signaling their intention to increase NPC’s role in political work, then elect a block of NPC candidates that would exercise control over political questions in a way that DSA has never experienced before. I want to keep NPC’s role as it had been, to ensure one tendency does not have the power to bend DSA to it’s singular will. Ideological diversity is why DSA is the largest socialist organization in the US, and diversity of tactics will ensure that we have a wide variety of tools to reach for when confronted with challenges during our fight to build socialism in America. This is why I have signed and endorse the Unity statement.
As we grow, questions over local funding from national dues have been raised. Locals need access to some resources to get projects started, and buy what they need to build their membership and act effectively. National also needs adequate funding to pay staff, and co-ordinate national campaigns. I endorse the 80/20 dues split to ensure that locals do get control of some resources. I also support robust local fundraising efforts, from “passing the hat” to abortion bowl-a-thons, to fundraising dinners, shows and other events. These drives help build chapters and let locals build campaigns around their local, grass roots initiatives. Given that even with the 80/20 split and local fundraising may not be enough for a smaller chapter to start and sustain a fight, I am also endorsing resolution 31 dedicating 10% of national funds set aside to ensure that locals can apply for grants for creative, exciting and vital fights.
I hope all of these measures together will help locals grow and build the infrastructure they need to fit their local contexts. I know that a strong national organization will be depending on strong locals coming up with the creative solutions we will need to fight and win!