The Tempest Collective includes many who are members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). This includes over a dozen delegates to the DSA’s 2021 Convention which runs from July 31 through August 8. The existence of a socialist organization approaching 100,000 members in the United States represents a possibility of historic significance. And our collective ability to use this opportunity—and the context of a broader radicalization—to create a truly democratic, socialist party of and for the working class and oppressed communities in the U.S. would represent a qualitative break-through for the socialist movement internationally. This is the starting point in our assessments and interventions into the DSA milieu. And whatever criticism or concerns expressed in this set of running commentary by Tempest Collective members comes from this place of concern, that we not let the window close on this possibility.
Video Commentary: Days Four and Five, Conclusions
Report: Convention Days 3-5
Report: Third Day of Business (Constitution and Bylaws and NPC Recommendations)
Video Commentary: Debate Days Two and Three
Report: Second Day of Business: Consent Agenda and Internationalism Debates
Report: Convention Interregnum (Days Two, Three, and Four)
Video Commentary: Day One
Report: Preconvention and Day One
Video Commentary #3
Monday, August 9, 2021, Haley Pessin and Andy Sernatinger discuss the final two days of the 2021 DSA Convention and give concluding remarks.
Convention Days Three, Four, and Five
Andy Sernatinger reports on the final three days of debate at the 2021 DSA Convention.
On the third day of business (Friday), the convention took up constitution/bylaw (CB) amendments. Last convention, CBs were placed at the end of the agenda and were not heard for lack of time. Because CBs can only be acted on by the convention (approximately every two years), they were put at the front of this year’s agenda to ensure they were heard. Thursday and Friday were evening only sessions, so have shortened business.
Day 3 (Friday)
- CB1 Striking Regional Requirements for National Conventions. (7:16p) Constitution currently requires conventions to move around different regions of the country. Amendment to strike that language. Motivation (Honda W): Makes convention planning more difficult and costly. Amendment 1 (Renee P) strike some of the more specific language in the amendment, but maintain the requirements of a union hotel. Amendment carries. CB1 adopted by acclamation.
- CB5 For a National Leadership Accountable to and Elected By DSA Members. (8:13p) This was Tempest’s proposal to introduce a recall mechanism for national leadership, and mandate transparency from the NPC on the business they conduct. Discussion: Skepticism of factional use of recalls. Concern that 1% of membership is too few, and that recall would extend convention period undesirably. Fails: 236-799.
- CB4 Electing DSA’s National Director. (9:53p) Motivation: National director is an inherently political position. Arguments against suggested that the position would increase factionalism and only execute tasks they politically agreed with. Fails: 256-811.
Day 4: Saturday
Saturday began by considering the NPC’s recommendations to the convention. As previously noted, these initially had CB amendments, which could not be heard. Instead, the recommendations were brought as resolutions. Three times during the week different delegates objected to consideration of the recommendations, which were ruled out of order. Another objection was made Saturday morning, this time in a “motion to refer” to recommendations back to the NPC to save time at the convention for debate and business. This ultimately failed (237-731) and the recommendations were heard, and then adopted by acclamation.
Its worth noting that the chairing style shifted on Saturday. The previous three days each procedural motion was taken to a roll call vote; starting Saturday chairs moved things much more quickly, saying that we’d accept things unless there were sufficient objections (100+). The objection mechanism was the zoom “raise hand” feature, which delegates could not see as participants.
Three more CBs heard. CB3 Adding Candidate Membership to the NPC, a proposal to add reserve NPC members to observe and sub in should any full NPC member resign. Fails. CB6 Establishing a National Organizing Committee, creates a representative assembly of chapters with the power to amend the constitution/bylaws. Fails. CB7 Hold All Elections by Single Transferable Vote, introduce one standard method for all elections in DSA across the organization (STV). Discussion: chapters who use other methods they like. Bread and Roses delegates in particular stumped hard against this CB change, as vocal opponents of STV. Fails, 386-723.
DSA’s Political Platform. (3:48p) Brief discussion of platform process, then consideration of amendments. Amendment M74 to replace international planks with ones written by International Committee, which mirror language from R14. Carries, 518-419. Discussion of public banking amendment to platform in economic section. Vote on DSA platform (3:16p), adopted.
Saturday closes with two priority resolutions. R5 Building Worker Power to Win Democratic Socialism. Amendment presented by Socialist Alternative , presents language on the role of the union officialdom in containing class struggle and allying with the Democratic Party, adds resolve about leadership accepting only the average workers’ wage. Fails. Motivation on R5, its consensus process by members of Socialist Majority, Bread & Roses, and Collective Power Network. At first no one speaks against, so I presented the against position: the proposal says that we will do everything and so effectively provides no guidance. It doesn’t take into account the stagnation of the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission in the last two years, where labor campaigns like EWOC and the PRO Act are not being initiated by the labor body. Resolution adopted by acclamation. (4:52p)
Beginning discussion of R8 Towards a Mass Party in the United States. Amendment 5 presented by Nick F, altering language to emphasis the need for a break from the Democratic Party and include recommendations for exploring independent politics. Eric Blanc, also Bread and Roses, speaks against the amendment. Amendment fails, 442-577. Amendment 6 presented by Philip L (Reform and Revolution) on including messaging about the nature of the corporate Democratic Party. Fails, 359-623. Only had a few minutes left so main motion was tabled until the next day.
Program moved into NPC candidate statements and voting opened.
Day 5: (Sunday)
Remainder of business starting Sunday was almost all resolutions until the convention adjourned.
- R8 Towards a Mass Party in the US. Carries, 734-218.
- R27 Beyond 100k: Building a Mass Socialist Organization. Amended with “friendly” A13. Carries with unanimous consent.
- R23 Universal Childcare. Amended with “friendly” A10. Allocates staff and $75,000 to campaigns for universal childcare. More on motivation here. Carries, 711-256.
- CB8 Defining the Role of DSA’s National Platform. Change definition of membership in the constitution to be predicated on agreement with DSA platform, just adopted. Fails, 340-640.
- R20 Class Struggle On the Housing Terrain. Fails.
- R30 Chapter Matching Funds to Hire Staff and Open Offices. Program that would allow chapters to apply for matching funds from the national organization. Broad discretion for the NPC to determine whether to approve funds. Debate against: concern that smaller chapters will not be able to make use of this, widening the gap between large and small chapters. Concern over factional prioritizing. Carries: 682-334.
- R29 Stipends for NPC Steering Committee Members. Proposal to pay a stipend of $2000/month to Steering Committee members on the NPC. Motivation: very labor intensive commitment to be on NPC, and more for SC. Could encourage those without means to be on leadership. Debate: Unlikely to convince someone to leave their paid work to be on SC; may instead reward those with means already. Allie C (2017 NPC member): very tense deciding on who would be on SC, adding money to the mix would only make that worse. Organization too dysfunctional. Motion carries.
- R1 In Defense of Immigrants and Refugees. Debate over framework of domestic vs. international. Carries, 511-417.
- R38 Socialist Horizon. Requirements for national endorsements. Socialist Alternative amendment, changes language to say independent runs and politicians should only take skilled workers’ wages. Fails, 151-838. Main motion, fails 232-754.
- R18 International Committee and Mass Organizing. Changes structure of International Committee to be open to all, rather than application based. Allows Secretariat to issue statements independent of the NPC. Advanced my members of Emerge. Fails, 270-653.
- R25 National Communication & Technology Policy. Referred to NPC for lack of time.
Report: Third Day of Debate
Hakan Yilmaz reports on the third day of business at the 2021 DSA National Convention.
The day began with some recommendations by the chair to speed up the debating process as the convention continues to be way behind schedule. The first section was on constitutional amendment CB1 which would strike the requirement that conventions be held “in different areas and regions of the country each time” and replace it with a set of recommendations that would make it very likely for conventions to be held in Chicago.
The initial debate was on the secondary amendment to CB1 which would remove the recommendations (except for a preference for union hotels) and simply let the NPC decide on where the conventions would be held. Ironically—given the disproportionate amount of time spent on procedural over political issues—the least political amendment in the agenda took up over an hour of debate, as both the secondary amendment and the amended version of the amendment were debated separately. Debate was entirely about whether or not the recommendations were too restrictive. The secondary amendment passed by acclamation and the amended version of the amendment passed 648-393. The result is that the NPC will decide where the convention will be held without any restrictions.
The next item was on Tempest’s CB5 “Recall” constitutional amendment, which would introduce the right to hold a recall election on national leadership through a petition of 1% of members, or 10% of chapters. It would also introduce a mechanism to fill NPC vacancies through a national election, mandate NPC minutes and votes to be recorded and released within 3 days (except for executive session) and disband national committees that remained inactive for 6 weeks after the convention. Speakers “against” CB5 argued that the threshold for recall was too low and that the right to recall would only increase factionalism. One speaker also made the argument that it would cost too much, while another claimed that elections outside the convention period would put too much strain on small chapters. The speakers “for” CB5 pointed out that recall is common in labor unions and other political organizations and based on the membership survey only 10% of the membership is really active. This would mean 10% of the active membership would have to petition and all of them would have to vote for there to be a quorum. The amendment ultimately failed, 238-798. All of the current NPC members and all of those currently running, with the notable exception of Matt M., voted against the right to recall. Every major caucus, except for the Libertarian Socialist Caucus, also opposed this amendment.
The third section was on CB4, which would make the national director an elected position and a voting member of the NPC. This amendment was put forward by the Bread and Roses caucus, who also proposed R29 (“Stipends for NPC Steering Committee Members”). Those speaking “for” argued that the national director is a political position that influences how the priorities are set in the national organization. Those speaking “against” once again argued that electing the national director would promote factionalism and an elected national director would ignore or undermine the priorities of the factions they do not represent. The amendment failed with a vote of 257-713.
The final section for the day was on the NPC recommendations. Those parts of the recommendations that would amend the constitution and the bylaws could not be passed because they were released less than 30 days prior to the convention, as specified in the DSA constitution, which made consideration of these motions out of order. Nevertheless, the NPC pushed to discuss these recommendations and vote on upholding them as resolutions so they could be debated at the 2023 convention. By this point, most delegates seemed to tap out of the discussion entirely. The first two recommendations passed by acclamation as there were not enough objections. I got on stack to make the political argument that the last-minute introduction of these recommendations should be rejected for violating our own rules and basic norms of democratic functioning (the right to notice and debate). I was ruled out of order for my comments not being “germane.” Others on the convention Slack criticized the double standard NPC’s recommendations create as regular members have to get 100+ signatures and support of the delegates to have anything debated at all.
This was another frustrating night as the argument that more voting equals more factionalism seemed to resonate with many of the delegates. Many delegates also seemed resigned to spending hours debating last-minute NPC’s recommendations. The lack of objections to the time they were taking up was notable since these recommendations will have little practical impact on the organization in the next two years. The main impact of the NPC recommendations will be allowing leadership to presume a mandate at the next convention even though these recommendations tended to pass by acclamation largely due to the resignation of the body to the arbtirary rule-making at this convention.
Video Commentary #2
Saturday, August 8, 2021, Haley Pessin and Andy Sernatinger lead a debrief of the recent happenings at the second and third days of debate at the 2021 DSA Convention
Second Day of Business: Consent Agenda and Internationalism Debates
Friday, August 6, 2021, Andy Sernatinger reports on the 2021 DSA Convention, Day Five (8/5/21).
Three days after the first session, Thursday’s convention schedule had to finish the preliminary business before beginning substantive debates. National committees gave their reports, which were all filed as informational and required no action on the part of delegates.
At 6:30 EST, the debate block opened, chaired by Sandy B. Sandy asked to take a moment of silence for the late Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. First item of business: agree to the convention agenda (“order of business”). Staff immediately begin archiving every channel in the convention slack, which had previously been used to whip votes. Comments in the general slack channel are aggressively removed, saying that this is not the venue for debate.
6:47pm Chris W. motions that the NPC’s decision to bar Kara H from running for NPC be vacated, on the grounds that 1) the NPC cited no language in its decision; 2) the NPC ceases to have authority once the convention has begun, that remains with the delegates; and 3) Resolution 33 on grievances gives a seven-day minimum before action can be taken. Motion is made to overturn the ruling of the chair — this take until 7:11p to complete. Motion carries: 726-333. Kara H is back in the race for NPC.
7:12pm Clearblue motions that the NPC’s recommendations to the convention, including bylaw and constitution changes, be ruled out of order. Marianela responds, saying that they will not be voted on, but the NPC would like them heard and discussed regardless of the fact that no action may be taken. Motion withdrawn.
7:17pm Nikhil motions to add R19 Amnesty For All ahead of R1 On the Defense of Immigrants; R19 was not included in the proposed order of business, so this would be adding more to the convention schedule, potentially bumping other items. Motion fails (207 YES to 491 NO)
7:38pm Dhaval motions to add CB2 Referendum ahead of CB3 “Adding Candidate Membership”. Fails, 118-569 (7:52pm).
7:56pm Order of Business finally adopted. Nate K raises that some votes aren’t being counted from chapters high in the alphabet. Proposes a recess until it’s figured out. Staff says it has been figured out. Motion still on the floor. Short break.
Onto the consent agenda. Most of the convention process has been building to this moment, specifically because of the inclusion of R14: Committing to International Socialist Solidarity. Sunday saw a last minute rules change by the convention committee to make it more difficult to pull things out of the consent agenda; a motion that anything that gets pulled out of the agenda be immediately debated; and a motion to extend time on the consent agenda to deal with it.
First thing out the gate, someone motions to “call the question”, to end debate and immediately vote for the consent agenda as is, making it impossible to pull things out of the consent agenda. Fails, 518-519 (needs 2/3’s to carry.) Motion to pull R32 “Strengthening YDSA” from the consent agenda, carries 475 YES to 532 NO (needs 1/3 to succeed). ANOTHER motion to call the question before R14 can be pulled out. Fails again. Motion to remove R14 from consent agenda, carries 393 to 658. No more motions, so proceed to a vote on the consent agenda; passes roughly 94% in favor.
Question from the floor: when will these two be debated? Chair states she doesn’t know. Consults other chairs. They’ll be debated immediately.
Debate begins on R14, only allowing three for and three against, with a maximum of three minutes each. Speakers against talked about the role of these parties in power, how they’ve suppressed workers’ movements, supported imperial projects, allied with the Catholic Church against LGBTQIA rights and abortion; one said that DSA simply doesn’t know enough about these issues to commit. Speakers for talked about the alternatives as dead ends, the coming of scientific socialism, and the bright future of the Sao Paulo forum. After 15 minutes, the debate is over. R14 passes, 694 – 369.
Debate then begins on R32. Main objection is the cost of allocating staff and stipends to YDSA. While the motion initially had enough support to be on the consent agenda, the resolution is ultimately defeated. Adjourn for the day.
After four and a half hours, we ended up debating two motions for a total of about thirty minutes. Each procedural motion took around 25 minutes to resolve, which ended up being an awful waste of time. Slow ballots from Sunday were supposed to have been fixed, but on the whole the process took longer Thursday. Most of these would be resolved quickly in person, but because there’s no mechanism to do a quick assembly vote every vote is individually counted, trying to make the most of an online databasing platform instead of some dedicated voting software.
The most concerning thing to me was the repeated attempts to halt debate on R14 — calling the question twice to try to prevent it from being discussed. This question around minorities has become important, as seen in at least two arenas so far: 1) the National Political Committee race (will we use a method that gives representation to minorities, STV, or promote “broad support” and strategic voting, the Borda Count? 2) Do minorities even deserve to have their concerns or objections heard, and who gets to decide what is significant? I expected R14 to pass, but I think it was important to be able to discuss and demonstrate that there is significant opposition to the policy — a little more than a third of delegates rejected the resolution.
Thursday, August 5, 2021, Andy Sernatinger reports on the 2021 DSA Convention, Days Two, Three and Four.
Following Sunday, the first day of the 2021 DSA Convention, there were three days of workshops and panels with no convention business. And yet, while “nothing was happening” a lot happened: four NPC candidates dropped out of the race, and then one opted back in.
On Monday, 8/2/21, a group of former members of the Collective Power Network (CPN) caucus released a letter appealing to convention delegates not to vote for candidates Ryan M, Blanca E, and Kara H — three of the five members of the Renewal slate. (Content warning: includes issues of self-harm and abuse.) The letter was released publicly through Medium, and then circulated through Twitter and the convention Slack. Staff took down the letter from the Slack, stating that this was a grievance issue and not to be discussed. All the same, the conversation moved to Twitter where it got predictably nasty.
Fern D, another member of the Renewal slate, wrote a statement, withdrew candidacy for NPC, resigned as delegate, and “stepp[ed] down as an active member of DSA.”
On Tuesday, Ryan M. released a document responding to the initial Medium letter; Ryan and Blanca then withdrew their candidacies for NPC. On Wednesday, 8/4/21 Austin G. withdrew his candidacy…only to unwithdraw later that evening. Today, Thursday 8/5/21 the NPC announced that everyone with active grievances would be ineligible to run, so Kara H is now out as well. This takes us down to 19 candidates for 16 NPC positions. All this happened between sessions, and if you aren’t plugged into social media you’d have no way of knowing.
A new proposed order of business was released for the convention to consider Thursday 8/5/21, and an announcement about a revised voting method. Thursday will begin by approving an agenda for the rest of the convention, considering the consent agenda and the motion to debate R14, and then beginning debate on constitution proposals.
Video Commentary #1
Monday, August 2, 2021, Haley Pessin and Andy Sernatinger lead a debrief of the recent happenings at the first two days of the 2021 DSA Convention
Lead up to the convention
Monday, August 2, 2021, Andy Sernatinger offers a written post-mortem of the 2021 DSA Convention, Day One.
In general, my perspective is that most of what will happen at the convention has already been decided. Like 2019, they essentially waived the pre-convention period by focusing solely on show-and-tells of the PRO Act, ActionNetwork, and why we’re the greatest. This did not allow for the pre-convention period to begin any political debate in general terms, nor on the specific proposals since these weren’t released until early May. The result is that:
- No one knew what would be submitted, so there are large gaps in political proposals resulting, for example, in only ONE labor resolution (rather than 4-5 last convention); and
- No additional new proposals could be made after the initial period, only amendments with a much higher threshold; and
- No serious debate ever really happened on these proposals until they were voted on to determine the agenda. This ensures that backroom deals would have the greatest advantages in determining the convention agenda, which it has – the main labor, electoral, ecological, and anti-racist motions are all joint efforts of top leadership caucuses and functionaries.
The rules were posted early, which stated that the convention would hear 10 resolutions and 10 bylaw/constitution changes. This was changed to 15 and 5 without announcement after seeing that only 8 constitution changes were submitted – I had to email the convention committee to ask if it had changed; they confirmed. This was the first of what has turned out to be a series of changes to the convention rules, without any notice. The effect of this particular change was to exclude proposals (namely, ours on the referendum). The rules changed numerous times pushing back dates on which the National was to have given information to the members.
At the beginning of July, the consent agenda poll went out to determine what would make the convention agenda and what would be in the consent agenda (a bundle of proposals that would not be debated). The poll itself was not particularly user-friendly, with multiple options that were not clearly explained how they would interact. At this point, delegates were told that now all the so-called priority resolutions would not be voted on by delegates to be in the agenda but were automatically included. This ensured that R8 (main electoral proposal) and R5 (the only labor proposal) were included on the agenda regardless of whether or not delegates voted for them. This had never been communicated before.
Two weeks before the convention, the NPC drops a 44-page report including a number of resolutions, constitution- and bylaw- changes that they did not have to get signatures required of the rest of the delegates. The NPC states that they don’t need to, because it’s their “committee report” and, they claim, this is allowed by Robert’s Rules; it will just be on the agenda. A day later they have to walk back the constitution changes because the DSA constitution states that they must be introduced one month before they can be voted on. (What I have heard since is that they intend to introduce a motion to “suspend the rules” to consider their changes anyway.)
R14, the International Committee’s favored proposal linking DSA to the MAS, PSUV, PT, and Sao Paolo Forum, made it into the consent agenda with 68% “support”, while approximately 49% of delegates also stated that they wanted to debate it – so many of those who supported the proposal still wanted to debate it. The convention committee determined that you would need 2/3’s of delegates saying they wanted to debate to prevent proposals that received consent agenda support to instead be debated, so despite nearly half of voting delegates stating they wanted to debate it was put into the consent agenda, with 650 of 1300 delegates participating in the poll.
The convention rules stated (until yesterday) that delegates could motion to remove items from the consent agenda with 10% support of the convention delegates. Starting last Thursday, we in Tempest said publicly that we would make a motion to take R14 out to be debated, communicating with comrades from Internationalism from Below and others. We put together a petition to garner support, which enraged the IC supporters who immediately announced their own petition to change the threshold to remove from 10% up to 33%. So, we went into today expecting that those were the rules and there would be a motion to increase.
The Feel of this Convention
In light of COVID 19, the National Political Committee decided last year that this would be an online convention. The actual operation of this convention is…nightmarish. The convention has its own conference portal that allows you to find the zoom link to the debate. Every delegate was emailed a unique keycode to 1) rollcall that they are present for each session in an Airtable form; 2) make motions or get on the stack, on Airtable form with a ton of selectables; 3) vote on items through an Airtable form as they are “opened”. There’s also a convention slack that delegates were instructed to have open. Another form is used to report issues. These are now six separate windows for convention business. Zoom chat is closed, so there is no comments. The Q&A section is open, but generally told will be ignored. If you raise an issue through the Airtable form, a receipt will go through Slack to you. You then have to check another Airtable report page to see what people are on the stack and what motions are in a queue. This has to be refreshed repeatedly to see what is on there. (Often it fails.) Staff determines if something is to be considered. If it is rejected, you later get a slack message saying it was rejected for whatever reason.
Hopefully, this gives you a feel for how overwhelming and confusing this process is. And that is before the system was overloaded with people trying to vote, where no one was able to vote but the Chair would inform us that they would soon close the voting.
Commence Day 1
The program begins at 1 p.m. EDT. By 1:19 p.m., 1007 delegates had marked themselves present.
- Report by Maria Svart. States that we will need to face a “sobering reality”: new member growth has slowed to a trickle. No explanation of why this might be. Written convention report states that we are already operating at a deficit before any items have been voting on, and discourages voting up resolutions we cannot afford. Maria summons the memory of Karen Lewis to ask us not to be divisive. No other organization can compete with DSA.
- Report by Jen McKinney, Steering Committee Chair (1:41 p.m.). Reads verbatim the written report. What we have is radical love.
- Secretary-Treasurer’s Report by Kristian Hernandez. Explains we have increased staff 60%. Cost of all staff set to grow, and we will also be hiring more staff – all of whom are administrative, not organizers. The Venezuela trip cost DSA an additional $17,000 on top of the $35,000 that was fundraised. Impresses the need to get members to pay monthly dues to create financial stability for DSA.
- Natalie Midiri (Chair), states that these three reports will be filed as “informational” and not voted on. No motions will be accepted at this time since we do not have approved delegations or rules. (Multiple motions are “held” in the stack in advance, despite her saying this.)
Delegate Credentials Challenge
Bryan L goes through challenges as the Credentials Committee.
The Convention Committee has made Borda Count the standing rule. A challenge will be made. The Committee takes no position, though Austin B. files individual objection as a member of the Credentials Committee.
Pittsburgh delegation: Pittsburgh elected its delegation, but upon submission, National rejected a handful of their delegates. NPC made a previous ruling barring members of the Pittsburgh Steering Committee from holding chapter leadership positions. National decided that this extends to the convention, at a vote after the delegation roster was submitted. The Credentials Committee recommends not seating the original delegation and maintaining the NPC’s chosen replacement delegates.
Shayla P (Pittsburgh) speaks, explains that this was not part of the grievance ruling and they have made this decision post-facto. Additionally, other delegates who were part of that decision have been seated.
Portland delegation: Portland leadership decided to bar three members of the chapter from being candidates in their delegate elections. They held a meeting without quorum where they voted that three members were not fit to be delegates, taking a simple majority vote to strip them of their candidacies and refusing to let the candidates or opponents speak. This gets reported to the NPC, who tells the chapter that they can’t do that and have to rerun the election. The Steering Committee majority acknowledges they barred these members, refuses to hold a new election. NPC tells them that their entire delegation could be stripped if they don’t redo it. They tell the NPC they are going to do whatever they want and refuse. Challenge said to unseat the entire delegation. The Credentials Committee argues instead to censure the leadership majority that they spoke with, remove their status as full delegates and instead make them alternates(!!?!).
Luisa (PDX): Argues “against” as one of the people. Offers no apology and says that they were correcting mistakes of the rest of the Left and removing “transphobic, racist, violent” because of their previous association (with the ISO, not explicitly stated).
There’s some back and forth, including one older German man who tells the entire convention they would be racists if they censured the Portland people.
Communist Caucus people then motion to split the question of censure and removal, which takes forever to get done and fails.
A motion to divide the Portland and Pittsburgh questions is made and fails.
The vote is finally taken on the recommendations as a whole, not separated. Passes overwhelmingly.
Convention “Rules” – AKA, super-secret you don’t get to know about them
With the credentials now done, it’s time to agree on convention rules. This is where it starts to get really outrageous. 3:49 p.m. EDT Keon L from the NPC gives the “Standing Rules report”. Because we’re so far behind, he only gives some highlights, including that the threshold to remove items from the consent agenda is now 33%. I made a point of information motion thinking he had misspoken, anticipating a motion to up the limit. Nope! Natalie then explains that the Standing Rules that were out there until YESTERDAY have been replaced with new standing rules, and one of the new items is that the threshold has already been changed to make it harder to take things out of the consent agenda.
I’m not sure what kind of deal had to be made to accomplish this, but they changed the rules in a major way with no notice. This is the only one we’ve noticed so far. Our initial posture from Tempest would be to defend the 10% in the rules, and explain that they want to increase the barrier for political reasons: to avoid debating their resolution. Instead, the rules committee did a switcheroo and now instead we would have to make a motion to change it back to 10% — while most people didn’t know that the rules had been changed or what they were before.
A number of motions are made. The first is Sam HL from San Francisco who already had this motion on deck to ensure that anything taken out of the consent agenda is moved into the agenda to be debated. No objection – the point is to debate it, and it betrayed anxiety about the motion. Various people are trying to make a motion to change the threshold back to 10%, which keep getting rejected by the staff for various reasons (“Duplicate motion. Already exists.”) A motion then comes up to change the NPC election rules from the Borda Count to Single Transferable Vote (STV), replaying another issue from 2019. That passes roughly 2 to 1.
Chair states that she sees no more amendments and that we’ll vote on the rules as amended. There are still two amendments; Natalie says she sees none and moves forward. We make point of order motions, they get denied. They take the vote and adopt the rules and move on to approve the agenda. One comrade gets recognized and says that the chair skipped Hakan and someone else who had rules motions. Natalie as Chair says that this must be the “algorithm” and she didn’t see them, so instead they’ll be considered as amendments to the rules that have already been adopted. She bundles the motion to go to a 10% threshold for removal from the consent agenda with one guy’s motion that we define what “germane” means because he doesn’t understand it.
Natalie states they’ll take 3 “for”, 3 “against”. Hakan and Natalia speak for the amendment, raise that it’s a significant political proposal that should be debated. Those speaking “against” focus entirely on whether the convention needs to listen to a “fringe minority” when there’s clearly so much support for their proposal. Someone then says they’re speaking “for” our amendment but proceeds to speak “against” and Natalie doesn’t rule it out of order. She states that she won’t take any more “for” because we’ve had our three. Roll call vote: 770 NO to 278 YES. (Bread and Roses appeared to have voted for it but never spoke.)
Fainan L makes a motion to reconsider a vote on STV over Borda. After a stretch where the chair tries to help figure out what the motion is, it’s determined that the motion is out of order as Fainan voted against and only a person who voted in favor may make a motion to reconsider.
Following that, a 10-minute recess (the first and only break of the day). Sam HL gets recognized for a THIRD time to make yet another motion, this time that when we get to the consent agenda we’ll add another 30 minutes to deal with the anticipated challenge, and to do that we’ll pull time from the NPC’s recommendations – we’d have less time to debate the NPC’s agenda that was thrown on last minute to instead have a debate about whether we should debate the Internationalism resolution. That passes 454 to 333. Note: at this point, a third of delegates have dropped off.
Chair (Natalie) states that there are speakers that cannot be moved starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT. With only 14 minutes left until then, she adjourns for the day. No agenda has been approved. The Convention Committee will need to create an entirely new agenda for consideration on Thursday. I can only imagine what that will be.
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