DSA-LA Democratic Socialist Program Framework
Approved unanimously by the standing Electoral Committee on April 20, 2021
- Decision-Making Targets. Per the Build a Bench Resolution, the policy and campaign demands shall target local, regional, and state decision-making bodies, not federal.
- Relationship to DSA National. Per the organizational structure of DSA-LA, as a local of the DSA National, all DSA National priorities are assumed to be part of the local’s activities and do not need to be codified into a local program.
- Strategic Objectives. Per the Build a Bench Resolution, our priority objective is to develop a tool to support our electoral activities and endorsement process for 2022 elections. The DemSoc Program also presents an opportunity to meet several related strategic objectives:
- Differentiate our socialist politics from more general progressive demands
- Connect our politics with the everyday conditions of working Angelenos
- Codevelop policy and budget priorities with elected socialists
- Recruit and build a base in a deliberate and strategic way
- Present a vision and direction for creating a socialist Los Angeles
- Constituency. The constituency is Los Angeles County’s actually existing working class, not simply current DSA-LA membership, nor a projected and unverified image of LA’s working class. This constituency is built, that is, directly engaged with by DSA members, not merely through intermediaries, in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities.
- Breadth and Depth. To help us achieve our desired strategic objectives, the breadth and depth of the program should be limited so it is digestible and appealing to nonmembers. Not all topics addressed across the various subgroups, branches, campaigns, and projects of the organization may end up being reflected in the program. This does not indicate they are not considered important, rather it indicates our orientation towards the constituency we want to build as an organization through our electoral and organizing work.
Democratic Socialist Program Subcommittee
The Electoral Politics Committee voted unanimously to establish a Democratic Socialist Program Subcommittee (DemSoc Program Subcommittee or Subcommittee) to carry out the work of developing the program through the end of August 2021. At that point, the Electoral Politics Committee will shift focus from the program to the endorsement cycle.
The Subcommittee will be comprised of a core group of volunteers, led by an officer of the Electoral Politics Committee, and will ensure membership buy-in through liaisons, chapter meetings, and chapter communications:
- Liaisons. The responsibilities liaisons will depend on the interests, skills, and availability of each person, and will include, at a minimum: Attending the monthly meetings of the Subcommittee; Supporting research, analysis, and development of policy and campaign demands; and Presenting updates or requests for feedback to their relevant subgroup.
- Branches and Branch Coordinators. In coordination with the Electoral Politics Committee, each branch may appoint 1-2 liaisons. Branches will also provide direct feedback on the Program through meetings and other opportunities.
- Chapter Subgroup Collaboration. Each subgroup may appoint 1 liaison.
- Black Liberation (Task Force)
- Climate Justice (Committee)
- Healthcare Justice (Committee)
- Housing and Homelessness (Committee)
- Immigration Justice (Committee)
- Labor (Committee)
- Mutual Aid (Committee)
- Prison Abolition (Committee)
- Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA)
- Chapter Meetings. The Electoral Politics Committee will coordinate with the Steering Committee to put the program on the agenda for Chapterwide or Branch Meetings.
- Chapter Communications. Given the size of our General Membership, members not actively involved in branches or subgroups will be informed of progress and have opportunities to shape the DemSoc Program through chapter communications about progress towards completion, including announcements for meetings at which the program will be presented in branches or subgroups and Chapterwide meetings, such as for the final ratification vote, expected to take place in late summer.
The DemSoc Program Subcommittee will meet regularly between April and July to conduct investigation, develop proposals for policy and campaign demands, coordinate with liaisons to seek input from subgroups and branches, and, ultimately, edit and package a DemSoc Program for membership ratification.
To align with the structure of DSA-LA and the DemSoc Program Subcommittee, the following sectors may be used to organize our investigation of existing conditions and to support program development, though the program may end up organized differently:
- Labor, Workplace Rights, & Economic Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Transportation & Infrastructure
To understand the material conditions of the working class in Los Angeles and within each particular sector, we will conduct research and seek to develop an understanding of:
- Sectoral Analysis. Within the sector, how does wealth and power impact the decisions that are made in the political arena? What would a working class struggle policy or campaign demand to redistribute that wealth and power look like?
- Power Analysis: What is the interplay between political and economic systems that perpetuates or pulls the status quo further right? What would a policy or campaign demand that changes those power relationships look like? What institutions, particularly elected offices, have the ability to effect these changes?
- Landscape Analysis: What are 2-3 recent battles in the Los Angeles landscape that give us a sense of what type of fight we can expect to have and with which organized actors? What would a socialist policy or campaign demand that alters the landscape of other progressive or left-leaning battles look like?
Proposals for policies and campaign demands to be included in the DSA-LA DemSoc Program will be developed by the Subcommittee members and liaisons following investigation. Proposals will identify the target office[s] for the demands and policies.
The Electoral Committee will advocate for subgroups, Branches, and Steering to provide feedback on proposals and agendize discussion on the Program within their meetings. A draft will be developed and circulated for structured feedback from membership at-large regarding proposed policies and campaign demands.
Following prioritization, the Subcommittee will compile results and prepare a draft of the Democratic Socialist Program for the Electoral Committee to revise and approve before it goes to the membership for ratification at a Chapter Meeting in July or shortly thereafter.
Following ratification of the program, the Subcommittee will present the ratified Program at a meeting of the Electoral Politics Committee to support with popularizing the program across DSA-LA membership and the broad Los Angeles political landscape; and will disband after subgroups and branches have the necessary materials to support their integrating the program into their organizing.