2024 State of the Chapter Address

This address was given by DSA-LA Chapter Co-Chair Jennifer Macias at the local convention on April 20th, 2024.

Today demands a moment for solemn reflection and a resounding call to action. In less than six months, we have seen the heart-wrenching toll of over 34,000 Palestinian lives lost, a staggering 70% of which were women and children. The harrowing violence seen today across Occupied Palestine, is one of the most recent and atrocious genocides initiated by Right-Wing Fundamentalists worldwide. As we confront these harsh realities, it is clear that the Left must cohere on strategy and expand our Party Infrastructure.

Our socialist project is not an academic exercise or a lifestyle. We are urgently strategizing on how we get from our current, capitalist conditions, to conditions freeing everyone from exploitation. We put that strategy to work through mass politics: at the ballot box, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods and in the streets. We organize to win socialism in our lifetimes by attempting to take State Power.

To take state power, we must act like a real political party. And building a party requires *all* of us — DSA members to think seriously about how to build and wield collective power. It requires the masses of workers in this room, and across LA, and in this country. *We* are the ones who *shape* the party through our organizing.

This past year presented new challenges for us as a Chapter. Together, we wrestled with our firm commitment to ending imperialism and the need for humane homelessness policies in LA. We rose to this challenge, and made hard choices to address substantial concerns about Nithya’s campaign and her alignment with our values. Despite disagreements in the chapter on these choices, we move forward with comradery and respect for the democratic will of the membership. Our hard choices allowed our campaign for a city ceasefire resolution to blossom, under the strong leadership of the Palestine Solidarity Working Group. This underscores our commitment to principles beyond elections. The Political Education Committee notes that almost 300 people engaged with the Palestine Readings and events series. It is clear that our membership is learning to destabilize imperialist power from inside the imperial core.

This year also presented us new opportunities to win. We won when our members went on strike against the boss. Our members participated in strikes with UNITE HERE Local 11, the California Faculty Association, and Writers Guild/SAG-AFTRA. Even while at our National Convention, DSA-LA’s Labor Committee sent delegates to the picket line at Berlin Night Club, a Night Club harassing its workers.

We also won in our electoral campaigns. Our Electoral Committee campaigns kicked ass! We knocked on over 8,000 doors for Ysabel Jurado, coming in first place with 24.52% of the vote! We knocked on over 5,350 doors for Nithya Raman, narrowly defeating fascist Ethan Weaver with 50.67% of the vote. We knocked on 5284 doors for Karla Griego, who won in first place with 36.72% of the vote.

This past year’s accomplishments have taught us new skills to use as we continue to build collective power. These wins guide us away from an isolationist path where we only talk to ourselves, and they engage us in a positive path toward the transnational coordination of a global workers movement against capital.

These are the conditions in which we begin our 2024 convention. We are winning, but in the context of what feels like a perpetual struggle. It is easy to fall into pessimism and fail to plan how we get to socialism. For us to regain a sense of grounded optimism, we must continue to develop our capacities, mature as an organization, be bolder and more ambitious in our campaigns, and act with unity to advance our ideology and program.

Every DSA success will be met with greater resistance and increased attempts to divide us. We must remember to trust one another and believe that a new socialist world is possible within our lifetime and we must fight as though that world is just around the corner. In the words of the great Langston Hughes “America never was America to me, and yet I swear this oath — America will be!” I have faith in us. We’re already making strides toward that future.