A Dispatch from the 2019 DSA National Convention

That photo of THAT jacket from the NY Times. Photo by Audra Melton

By Alex P

The 2019 DSA convention was certainly an experience.

While I look back positively at the 2019 convention, there were moments that were frustrating or exhausting.  Before the convention could even begin, we had to vote to adopt both the agenda and the rules. This presented what seemed like an endless series of procedural motions and attempts to alter the rules or agenda. This was frustrating, as I was anxious to begin. Also, throughout the convention, there were several interruptions for points of “Personal privilege,” “ information,” or “ inquiry.” This is when someone speaks to add information, ask a question, or make a motion unrelated to the topic being debated. Some of these seemed necessary, but many seemed like they could best be handled elsewhere. As it was, they disrupted the flow of the convention, which I found irritating. However, debates on topics such as whether to endorse someone else if Bernie Sanders loses the Democratic primary, or the proper role of the NPC, were healthy ones to have about the political and structural organization of the DSA.

The main highlight for me was something that is often lost in the bureaucracy of the convention: the personal relations built and expanded. For me, it is always fun exploring a new city, and even more fun with comrades. Our late night trips to Waffle House, electric scooter rides, and southern BBQ dinners were among my most treasured moments. I believe times like these and bonding with comrades in ways unrelated to politics is essential for successful organizing.

I often found myself often thinking about the sacrifices many people made to get to the convention. Nearly every chapter spent time organizing elections, fundraising, and reading proposals. The elected delegates then had to take 3.5 days off from work, their family, and life to debate resolutions all day. For many, I am sure it was a financial burden. While many of us had disagreements, and I am sure several people felt disappointment or even dismay that their proposals did not pass, it was heartening to see so many people dedicated to our organization. The commitment people have to DSA and our movement is what gives me confidence that we will one day win. What DSA is lacking in, we make up for in the spirit of our members. In retrospect, having 1,100 Socialists, 120 of them from NYC, in one place, is unprecedented and truly an amazing organizing feat. I think we all owe the DSA staff a debt of gratitude for working tirelessly to put this together in an accommodating and comfortable way.

Overall, it was an honor to be elected to represent my NYC comrades in Atlanta. The convention certainly highlighted the differing points of view in our organization, but also showcased much of our members’ passion and dedication. While conventions like these can often be contentious and challenging, they are necessary for our internal democracy and growth. I would encourage everyone to run to be a delegate at a National Convention. If you win, prepare for it to be long and tiring. But also remember to have fun. That being said, I can’t wait for DSA Con 2021!

About Rebecca Capua 117 Articles
Red Letter spotlights editor, former MWG OC