Regional Representation for Every Chapter
Right now, new and small chapters are not well supported, while larger chapters are islands- isolated from one another, duplicating work, and failing to share resources, workloads and experience. CPN’s Regional Representation Program addresses these problems head-on, ensuring every chapter has a representative on a Regional Organization by August 2020. We believe this set of reforms will help DSA navigate the problems that arise from geographic and demographic divides within our organization.
Durable, Flexible Regional Organizations
We believe building real regional and national power will require sustained, concrete dialogue between Chapters, while still allowing for adaptability to on-the-ground conditions and a diversity of approaches. CPN’s Regional Representation Program calls for an annual meeting for every Regional Organization, during which a Regional Council will be elected, which will meet (at a minimum) quarterly. No chapter may hold an outright majority in any Regional Organization.
Connecting Chapters to DSA National- and National to the Chapters
DSA’s current lack of intermediary structures has created limited space for accountable, substantive political debate. This has contributed to a dynamic in which various chapters and regions struggle to grasp the organizing realities occurring elsewhere. We have no formal way to give feedback or request assistance from National, and National lacks a clear constituency or mechanisms to build meaningful consensus throughout the organization. To address this, CPN’s Regional Representation Program establishes a new National Organizing Council composed of the NPC, National Commission Chairs, and representatives of the Regional Organizations, to meet biennially, in the years between National Conventions.
A Clear Plan to Get There
If we want a durable, representative national organization capable of wielding power, we have to put National resources and time into building it. CPN’s Regional Representation Program instructs the NPC to immediately form a Regional Coordinating Committee to propose boundaries of the new Regional Organizations, develop Regional Constitution templates, and assist in the chartering of the new Organizations. This Committee’s membership will be drawn from as many regions nationwide as possible (with an emphasis on rural and small-chapter representation), and will be dissolved once at least half the membership is represented in Regional Organizations.
Doesn’t the DSA Constitution already have provisions for Regional and State Organizations? What about chapters that are already in a State or Regional body?
DSA’s current Constitution has provisions for Chapters to start State or Regional Organizations, but to our knowledge, none have been successfully chartered- which points to how difficult it is for disparate Chapters to connect without active support from National. But maybe even more importantly, without a concerted DSA-wide push for Regional Representation, we’re concerned only large and well-established Chapters will have the time and resources to pursue creating Regional Organizations- and we view a democratic regional voice in DSA as a right for every chapter, not an option or a privilege.
Do all the regional organizations have to look the same? (be the same size, have the same structures, etc.)
No! While we’ve established a few broad outlines (guaranteeing a vote for every Chapter in a Region, prohibiting a single Chapter from holding a majority in a Regional Org, etc.) and the Regional Coordinating Committee will develop sample constitutions, these are just starting points- individual Regions can (and should!) decide democratically how their Regional Org is operated.
So why would a local want to be part of a regional organization?
Well, you might want to organize with other chapters to have more say in the political direction of DSA nationally, or you might want to be part of coordinated electoral work that helps turn the Midwest the right shade of red, or you might want to have stronger infrastructure for mutual aid after hurricanes along the Gulf Coast or for protecting immigrant communities near the Southern Border. Up to you! Organize!
Bylaws, Article IV, Section 3.
Charters shall be granted to Regional Organizations upon submission of an application which contains a proposed Constitution for the Region, a description of the geographic boundaries of the Region, and the signatures of the officers of at least three Locals already chartered within the proposed boundaries of the Region. Upon receipt of the application, all Local and State Organizations with the Region shall be polled regarding the establishment of said Regional Organization.
Bylaws, Article IV, Section 3.
All chartered Locals shall be represented via delegation in a Regional Organization. Charters shall be granted to Regional Organizations upon submission of an application, approved by a majority of Locals within the proposed Regional Organization, which contains a proposed Constitution for the Region, a description of the geographic boundaries of the Region, and a list of chartered Locals within the Regional boundaries. The Regional Organization shall be comprised of (a) the Regional Meeting and (b) the Regional Council.
Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4.
The Constitution for the Regional Organization shall include provisions for the holding of at least one Regional meeting annually, for the potential establishment of subregions within the Regions, and for the election of officers and for the election of State and Local representatives to the State Organization. Model Constitutions shall be available from the National Office. Regions shall submit changes in the Constitution and financial information to the National Office on a regular basis.
Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4.
The Constitution for the Regional Organization shall include provisions for holding the Regional Meeting at least once annually, the election of the Regional Council and the election or appointment of Regional representatives to national representative bodies as appropriate. The Regional Meeting shall be composed of delegates elected proportionally by the Locals affiliated with the Regional Organization. No Local shall receive less than than one delegate and one alternate. The regional meeting shall be open to any additional DSA members within the region who want to attend, though only elected delegates may vote. Regions shall submit changes in the Constitution and financial information to the National Office on a regular basis.
Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5. (New)
The Regional Meeting shall elect a Regional Council that shall be the collective leadership and the highest decision-making body of the Regional Organization between Regional Meetings. It shall meet, in-person or remotely, no less than four (4) times annually. No single local may hold an outright majority on the Regional Council. The Regional Council’s duties shall include:
- to convene the Regional Meeting and other gatherings within their jurisdiction;
- to compile regular reports on the work in their region;
- to develop regional programing relating to national and regional priorities;
- to decide questions of jurisdiction between locals; and
- to assist in the formation of new locals within their jurisdiction.
Constitution, Article IX. National Advisory Committee
Members of the National Advisory Committee shall be available to consult with the NPC and the officers of the organization. It shall, however, have no decision-making authority.
Members of the National Advisory Committee shall be chosen by the NPC and must be members of the Democratic Socialists of America. In electing members to the NAC, the NPC shall act so as to ensure fair representation of women, genderqueers, and minorities.
Constitution, Article IX. National Organizing Council
Members of the National Organizing Council shall be available to consult with and provide organizing support to the NPC, chapter officers, at-large members, and the officers of the organization.
The National Organizing Council shall include the members of the National Political Committee, Chairs of Commissions, and 5 delegates elected by each chartered Regional Organization. The NPC shall act so as to ensure fair representation of women, genderqueers, and minorities.
Constitution, Article VII. National Activist Conference
A National Activist Conference shall be held at least once between Conventions in the year in which a Convention is not held.
The National Activist Conference shall include the officers of the National organization, the members of the National Political Committee, Chairs of Commissions, two delegates selected by each Local, and any additional DSA members who want to attend.
The Conference Planning Committee for the National Activist Conference shall include members of the NPC, chairs of Commissions and a Youth Section representative.
Constitution, Article VII. National Organizing Council
A National Organizing Council shall convene at least once between Conventions in the year in which a Convention is not held.
Section 2. (Removed)
Section 3. (Removed)
Creating the DSA Regional Coordinating Committee
Whereas, National bodies should be both accountable and effective, which at DSA’s current size requires creating intermediate democratic structures, and
Whereas, National decisions should be based on concrete dialogue across local, regional, and national formations, and
Whereas, coordination and cooperation between chapters within regions, and sensitivity to regional conditions more broadly enables our organization to respond to developments borne out of distinctive regional conditions; therefore be it
Resolved, that the National Political Committee shall establish a Regional Coordinating Committee. The NPC shall seek nominations for participation in the committee so as to ensure representation from small and rural chapters, and a range of geographic regions.
Resolved, that the Regional Coordinating Committee shall be organized to:
- Ensure that every Local is represented in a Regional Organization by August 2020.
- Create a sample Regional Constitution and assist Locals, as necessary, in drafting Regional Constitutions and Regional Boundaries.
- Assist in administering referenda to approve the new Organizations across regions and in mediating discussions regarding Regional Boundaries and Local assignment.
- Determine the initial apportionment of Local delegates for each new regional organization, to be amended at the first Regional Meeting. Proportions for delegations shall be consistent within Regional Organizations but not necessarily between Regional Organizations; and be it
Resolved, that the Regional Coordinating Committee shall be tasked to ensure that the Constitutions of Regional Organizations:
- Include provisions to allow new and current Locals to leave and join adjacent Regional Organizations in order to facilitate more effective organizing.
- Include provisions for the election of the Regional leadership body, to meet in-person or remotely, no fewer than four times annually.
- Include provisions setting delegate apportionment for the Region annually, ensuring that all Locals are apportioned proportionally, that no Local shall receive less than than one delegate and one alternate, and keeping the total size of the Regional Delegation below 100 members. Delegates to the Regional Organizations shall be apportioned based on the dues-paying membership of the Local (including all members up to one year arrears in dues); and be it
Resolved, that the NPC shall ensure that once 50% plus one (1) of the total membership is represented on the National Organizing Council the powers and duties of the Regional Coordinating Committee shall pass to the NOC and the RCC shall be dissolved.
Support This Plank
If you agree with our vision, we invite you to endorse this plank. We want to bring a strong clear voice to the 2019 Convention for the type of organization we feel we need. An organization that can realize our collective power; one that respects and integrates differing viewpoints, and that looks outward, not inward, to build a truly mass organization reaching out with our own hands towards power.