When the current DSA National Political Committee took oﬃce in 2019, we anticipated that the presidential election would be the biggest political flashpoint of our term. The outbreak of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 and the massive uprisings in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May of that year massively altered the political landscape. There was a tangible shift in the realm of the possible, and our approach to organizing had to adjust to social-distancing, virtual events, a drop in our individual capacity to engage in this work, and the diﬃcult decision early in our term to move to an online convention.
The pandemic has ripped the mask off capitalism, making it clear to millions of people exactly for whom our society is built. At every turn, capitalist interests superseded public safety and our well-being when it came to mask mandates, business openings, vaccine rollout, and school reopenings. These failures contributed to rampant anti-Asian violence that devastated so many communities. The rage from countless police murders was widely felt, and the state responded with increasing violence. As the January 6 insurrection made clear, the far-right has not gone away, and the state is not willing to serve as an opposition to these forces. The mobilization to get Donald Trump out of office has prompted escalating attacks on voting rights by Republicans.
The capitalist-caused climate crisis led to winter storms that took so many lives and will lead to more deaths as drought, tornadoes, and hurricanes devastate the land this summer. ICE continues to be a relentlessly cruel and rogue institution as it ramps up the separation of immigrant families and forced sterilization of Black and brown women. Many countries, already exploited by U.S. imperialism, are suffering devastating loss of life, exacerbated by the monopoly on vaccine patents and lack of medical resources due to sanctions. We’ve seen how the police and the military have played a similar role of enacting violence on the masses as they demand the right to live in dignity: in Nigeria, in Colombia, in Palestine.
Both 2020 and 2021 have shown us how powerful we can be, but it has also reminded us how quickly it can all be taken away. We mourn the lives and opportunities stolen from us as we sustain each other in this work.
Still, there’s hope not only on the horizon but in our day-to-day work of building a mass socialist organization. The last year showed us what our class could have if and when we fight back—both in terms of actual wins, and in terms of our collective power. It’s important for us to remember, as we begin to move toward more in-person events, that we are at our strongest and most powerful when we work together. We know that solidarity must be worked toward and that part of this work must be to confront empire here. This fight for racial justice also became a cry for abolition, for a world without cages and cops: a vision of a socialist world of abundance, of dignity, and of democracy.
During our NPC term, we made strides in building up chapters in all parts of the country and took steps to synchronize activities between national and chapters. We spent time talking to chapter leaders to learn more about how we can move as a national organization and what particular issues are faced by comrades in the South, comrades in rural areas, and comrades just starting to organize. We have worked to incorporate these lessons into national campaigns, such as our current campaign to pass the PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize Act) and last year’s campaign to save the U.S. Postal Service.
We’ve expanded our support for new chapters through the work of the Growth and Development Committee’s training, retention, recruitment, and mentorship teams and deepened our political education efforts through the National Political Education Committee’s facilitation training and basic curriculum. All of this has been done in coordination with our organizing team and our field organizers. We’ve seen our chapters build strong alliances with local organizations and unions, working to root our movement in the working class. We’re excited to be sending two delegations to Peru and Venezuela respectively as part of ongoing efforts to deepen our international ties, and we anticipate that deepening DSA’s internationalist efforts will be a serious task for the incoming NPC.
As a rapidly growing socialist organization, we have made mistakes. We know we have much to do to make DSA a more welcoming political home and much to learn to focus our power more strategically. But we’re doing it. We are working with Tilde Language Justice Cooperative to translate our website into Spanish and coordinating language justice training. Most important, we have committed to helping chapters engage in meaningful discussion around race, reparations, and growing our power with intentionality and a focus on mass-action campaigns that build organization.
The DSA for Bernie campaign taught us the value of meeting people where they are and how rewarding it is to work toward a shared vision. The 100K Recruitment Drive reminded us of the importance of asking people to join DSA and how much we can grow when we work in unity. The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) internal priority resolution is helping us clarify where we need a shift in culture and structure to ensure that our organizing is multiracial. Our many elected oﬃcials and five congressional members are changing conditions on the ground. And our PRO Act campaign is putting those in power on notice.
The last two years have felt both blurry and endless, but we are firm in looking forward and focusing on the tomorrow we are trying to build. Ahead of the DSA National Convention in August, the NPC will present a comprehensive report on its work as well as on progress made toward achieving the mandated goals of the 2019 convention. We hope this report will lead to reflection on what it will take to make the organization what we want, to assess the reality of how much time and resources are required to win campaigns, and will prompt members to recommit to the work of building a national organization capable of winning and being a vehicle for the working class to take back what’s ours. We’re a different organization than we were in 2015, and we look forward to seeing how we grow six years down the line. But it feels good to know we’re going to figure it out with 94,000-plus comrades at our side, 239 chapters deep, and a vision of a world worth fighting for.