Why does DSA-LA have an annual Local Convention?

As part of our commitment to democratic socialism, our chapter meets annually, as mandated by our bylaws, at our Local Convention to discuss our priorities for the next year. The political landscape is shifting all the time; we need to be able to meet the moment by deliberating on where to focus our organizing. 

Unfortunately, we must still abide by social distancing guidelines and we will be hosting this year’s convention entirely online. 

Is the Local Convention the same thing as a chapter meeting?

No. There are some similarities, but in general a lot more happens at convention than a regular meeting. In the first place, we set our priorities for the year. This involves more than just organizing individual projects. It demands that all future projects address these priorities in some way. In addition to democratically deciding our political priorities, this is also a time for members to reflect on the work we’ve done over the last year. Although we can theoretically amend our by-laws at any time, in point of fact Convention is considering a special time to do this in a way that considers many different perspectives and changes at once. There will be retrospective reports, a keynote speaker, and debate on setting our strategic orientation for the next year. 

What exactly does it mean to set our priorities? 

The Steering Committee asked for resolution proposals from members months in advance of the Local Convention. Resolutions need to contain a motivation, a proposal for how we will engage in the work, and other details relevant to implementation. Members are also able to amend our chapter’s bylaws through a written proposal. Authors needed to collect signatures from 25 members in good standing in order for their proposal to be considered. In order for a resolution or a bylaw amendment to be adopted, the proposal must receive a ⅔ supermajority vote.

Given our limited resources as a member-funded organization, we have to limit the scope of our priorities to a maximum of 3. This also allows us to have a greater impact in the area of our work. 

Will this impact the campaigns we’re currently working on?

The short answer is: possibly. The priorities set at the Local Convention supersede in importance all other work. In practice this could mean that more chapter resources, communication channels, and member time will be dedicated to ensuring we carry out the priorities that were set. A resolution could also further affirm or widen the scope of work we’re already doing.  

Can I invite my friend(s) to attend?

Of course! But they have to be a member-in-good-standing because we will be voting on several proposals. In order to ensure a democratic process we will be checking the membership status of everyone who registers for the event. Anyone who is not currently a member but wishes to participate in the convention must register to become a member by September 4!

What is Robert’s Rules or Order? Will I be able to participate if I’m not familiar with the process?

Our chapter and DSA broadly favors the use of Robert’s Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure. The reason we do so is because we need to be able to understand motions made during convention, amendments to proposals, and how votes are decided. If you’re not familiar with Robert’s Rules, you’re in luck! Our chapter is hosting a training on September 6 @ 1:00 PM.