The following proposals for the 2021 Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) convention are endorsed by the Tempest Collective: Referendum, For a national leadership elected by and accountable to DSA members, and A socialist horizon.
The individual DSA members who authored each proposal are listed with the proposals. The intention of the Tempest Collective in endorsing these proposals is to advance the goal of building a mass, membership-based, democratic, socialist organization.
Each proposal needs 100 signatures to have a chance at being heard, we encourage all DSA members to sign them!
Proposal One: Referendum
Authors: Andy S (Madison); Natalia T (NYC); Hakan Y (NYC); Derek B (OKC)
Amendment to Constitution & Bylaws:
The DSA Constitution shall be amended, adding a new article after Article V (National Conventions):
Article VI. Referenda
Between conventions, the membership may direct the organization by Referendum. The mechanism for petitioning for and voting in Referenda shall be established in the Bylaws. Only a Referendum may override a resolution of the Convention. A Referendum may establish policy; override decisions of the National Political Committee; or bind the NPC to any action permitted by the Constitution, Bylaws, and applicable laws.
And subsequent articles renumbered.
Amending Article XIII Amendments by adding the bolded text:
Article XIII. Amendments
This Constitution may be amended at a National Convention by a two-thirds vote of the delegates voting and present provided that written notice of such amendments has been given to members one month prior to the Convention or by a two-thirds Referendum vote if a quorum of 15% of members participate.
Strike Article XIII. Polls
Polls of the members on specific issues may be held upon petition of one-half of the Locals or one-third of the members. Such polls shall be advisory and not binding.
Article XIII. Referenda
The NPC shall administer an online petition and voting system for members to participate in Referenda. (a) The NPC may call a Referendum by majority vote. (b) Members may call a Referendum by petition from 1% of members, not to exceed 1000 members. (c) Locals may call a Referendum by petition of locals representing 10% of the total number of recognized chapters. Signatures for petition may be gathered in person or electronically. Calls to Referendum shall be in the form of a question put to members, along with options responding to the question, among which members may vote. One of these options shall represent no action by DSA.
Calls to Referendum shall be announced to members within 15 days of receipt, and shall declare the referendum schedule. Voting on the referendum shall begin no sooner than 45 and no later than 90 days after the Call to Referendum is announced.
All members in good standing on the date a Call to Referendum is announced will be eligible to vote in such Referendum. Voting will be open for 14 days. Every member eligible to vote will be notified electronically when voting opens, and 48 hours before voting closes. Members without electronic contact information on file will be informed of the vote by postal mail. An option to abstain shall be included with each ballot. If a supermajority is required, it will be calculated by comparing the winning option directly with the No Action option.
A quorum of 10% of eligible members must vote or respond with an abstention for a Referendum vote to be valid.
The NPC shall encourage online deliberation and deliberation within Locals on each Referendum, facilitating a fair and open discussion of the issue. National DSA resources, including but not limited to, staff, finances, and member lists, except discussion forums open to members, shall not be used to argue for any option in a Referendum.
An optional survey, asking for demographic information, ZIP code, National Working Group membership, whether the member is an elected leader of any kind, and date of last participation in a DSA meeting or activity, shall be included with each referendum vote. After the vote is complete, ballot and survey data shall be made available to members for research purposes.
And subsequent articles renumbered.
And striking Article XIII Polls.
And amending Article XIV Amendments by adding the bolded text:
Article XIV. Amendments
These Bylaws may be amended at a National Convention by a three-fifths vote of the delegates voting and present provided that written notice of such amendments has been given to members one month prior to the Convention. The Bylaws may also be amended by majority at a National Convention if the amendments in question have been discussed at an NPC meeting at least three months prior to the Convention. The Bylaws may also be amended by a Referendum vote if a quorum of 15% of members participate.
Proposal two: For a national leadership elected by and accountable to DSA members
Authors: Haley P (NYC); Phil G (Madison); Elizabeth L (Chicago)
Amendment To DSA Constitution & Bylaws
1) Article VIII National Political Committee, Section 2 of the DSA Constitution currently reads:
The members of the NPC shall be one representative of the Youth Section and 16 delegates elected at the national convention. Of the elected members, no more than eight shall be men and at least five shall be racial or national minority members of DSA. In the event that these minority positions are not filled at the Convention, the position(s) shall be filled by the NPC, except that only minority members of DSA may be elected to fill such vacancies. In case of other such vacancies, except a vacancy of the Youth Section Representative, the NPC shall appoint a member of the organization in good standing to serve until the next Convention. No person shall serve simultaneously on the National Staff and the NPC.
The DSA Constitution shall be amended so that this section reads as follows:
…In case of other such vacancies, except a vacancy of the Youth Section Representative,
the NPC shall appoint a member of the organization in good standing to serve until the next Convention.a special election by all members shall fill any vacancy on the NPC. The NPC is responsible for setting up elections to fill vacancies in between conventions, and for ensuring that such elections are well-publicized and become a top priority in internal communications to the membership. Voting shall be open to all dues-paying members in good standing at the time of the election announcement. Eligibility to run for a vacant position on the NPC shall be subject to the same criteria established at the convention from which the vacancy arises. Elections to fill a vacancy on the NPC shall be announced within thirty days following the vacancy and voting will commence no more than two months from the start of the vacancy. In the event that the vacancy occurs within six months of the start of a National Convention, the NPC may vote to appoint a member in good standing to temporarily fill the position, or it may remain vacant until the election of a new NPC at the National Convention. No person shall serve simultaneously on the National Staff and the NPC.
2) Article VIII shall be amended to add a new section that reads as follows:
Elected NPC members are subject to recall by the organization’s membership. Members in good standing may call for a recall vote of any member or members of the NPC by either (1) petition of 1% of members, not to exceed 1000 members, or (2) by petition of locals representing 10% of the total number of recognized chapters. Signatures for petition may be gathered in person or electronically. Following submission of a valid recall petition, a binding vote will be taken by all members in good standing on whether to recall and remove from office the named member(s) of the NPC on the petition. Recall votes will be publicized to members through national communications. For an NPC member to be recalled, at least 60% of votes cast must respond in favor of recalling the individual(s) in question. A quorum of 10% of eligible members must vote or respond with an abstention for a Referendum vote to be valid. A successful recall vote will automatically trigger new elections by the membership to fill the vacancy.
3) Bylaws Article X National Political Committee shall be amended to add a section that reads as follows: Section 7.
All votes taken by the NPC, save for those taken in executive session, shall be roll-called with the name of each member and their vote cast, whether aye, nay, abstain, or not present. The NPC will provide minutes of its meetings to the membership within three days of their approval. A meeting shall be considered any gathering of the NPC or SC to conduct business, whether in-person or online. These minutes will include roll call votes on action items, names of motion makers, and shall report the results of online votes in the event that voting occurs between meetings. Roll call votes shall be provided to the membership within three days of being taken.
4) Bylaws Article X National Political Committee, Section IV. currently reads:
“The NPC may appoint committees to supervise specific work; these shall report to the NPC. They will include:
A Finance and Budget Committee which will regularly review with the Director(s) the financial situation of the organization. It will prepare an annual budget; such preparation may be delegated to staff persons in consultation with the chair of the committee. It will direct a fund-raising program. The Secretary-Treasurer shall serve as a member or an ex officio member of the committee.
A Personnel Committee which will periodically review staff performance, and fulfill other responsibilities assigned by the NPC.
Editorial Boards for the general publications of the organization which will supervise and edit these publications.
At the first meeting following their appointment, NPC committees shall elect from among their number a chair who shall be responsible for the organization of the committee, that is, for calling meetings, for notifying members of the meetings, for preparing agendas, for producing and distributing minutes to members, and for informing the NPC of the committee’s work.”
The DSA Bylaws shall be amended to add the following sentence at the end of this section:
NPC committees shall meet no later than six weeks after their appointment by the NPC. Committees that fail to meet within six weeks of their appointment shall be disbanded.
Proposal Three: A socialist horizon
Authors: Erin C (High Peaks); Andy S (Madison); Emma WB (East Bay)
Whereas the 2019 National Convention voted to establish R31 “Class Struggle Elections” as the guiding perspective on DSA’s electoral work
Whereas this included language emphasizing that “DSA is committed to building political organization independent of the Democratic Party and their capitalist donors” and “our goal is to form an independent working-class party”
Whereas the new socialist movement has had to reassess its strategic outlook following the defeat of Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency
Whereas elections will likely continue to play an important role in the activity of DSA, and the strategic use of elections can be a useful tool in shifting the political balance of forces,
Whereas there is no singular strategic agreement on the particulars of how an independent party may be formed, whether by reform of the political representative system, separation of working class blocs from existing capitalist parties, or immediate introduction of an entirely new political party
Whereas DSA’s national electoral strategy should work toward building working-class power and spreading socialist ideas across the country, distinguishing socialist politics from establishment or liberal/progressive approaches, therefore…
Be it resolved that DSA reaffirms the commitment to building political organization independent of the Democratic Party and their capitalist donors and the aim of forming an independent working class party
Be it further resolved DSA electoral strategy shall require candidates to fulfill the following minimum criteria to be nationally endorsed:
- Openly identify as socialists in live, digital, and print communications.
- Commit to using their campaign, elected office, and position to build and promote working-class politics and organization outside of the Democratic, Republican, and other capitalist parties.
- Through their election campaigns, and once in office, see mobilizing and fighting alongside working people as one of their primary responsibilities. They will use their public profile to popularize a class struggle perspective, one that sees the working class as the agents of change and capitalists and capitalist politicians as the main barrier to change. Campaigns should use the political space created by an election to promote existing struggles and attempt to unify socialist, labor, and other class forces.
- Actively and explicitly oppose racial, national, gender, and other forms of oppression and discrimination and repudiate support from oppressive or bigoted figures.
- Commit to refuse a vote of approval to any budget, motion, bill, or amendment that would increase funding for a law enforcement agency other than environmental regulatory bodies.
- Refuse support from individuals, companies, and/or organizations that uphold oppressive capitalist structures such as law enforcement, real estate, the fossil fuel industry, or other institutions, such as Chambers of Commerce, that advance an anti-working class agenda.
Be it further resolved that for a candidate to be endorsed by DSA they must meet all minimum criteria outlined above, and exceptions shall not be made by the National Political Committee. Candidates for national endorsement, save for the president, must first be endorsed by the chapter(s) in their geography. In the case of a statewide race, a majority of members in the state must approve an endorsement.
Be it further resolved that should a DSA-endorsed candidate fail to uphold their commitments to the above criteria, either during their campaign or while holding office, they will be subject to censure, up to and including revocation of local and national membership.
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