This past Sunday we held our first General Meeting since January. The afternoon kicked off with speeches from our Local Council members (formally known as Executive Committee chairs). Jeremy Gong made a case for the deliberative work of building a sturdy organization for the long haul. We're not just reacting to Trump, he argued. Trump is a symptom, capitalism is the disease, and only a mass organization of socialists and the working class can overcome it. This moment is unprecedented but, as the third largest socialist party in American history, we are part of a long historical tradition.
Mary Virginia Watson laid out a vision for the kind of organization we're creating. The "mobilization model" that's become default on the Left is inherently conservative, she argued. It doesn't change the world because it doesn't change the lives of its members — it keeps them in the passenger seats. The movement we're building empowers every single member, not just with the democratic power to say yes or no, but with the democratic tools to self-organize and act.
Molly Armstrong showed us how that vision of deep organizing is taking shape in our chapter. From the impressive, headline-grabbing accomplishments to the unglamorous, invisible labor and even to the parties and picnics, our members are dedicating ourselves to each other, developing our understanding of politics and power and rallying solidarity on a daily basis.
Nowhere is our chapter's long-term dedication more evident than in the process we took to create new bylaws, overseen by Frances Reade, among others. The culminating vote this Sunday drew 160 members. Our comrades could have merely gone through the motions. Instead, we asked for extra time to review the bylaws more thoroughly, demanded good answers to thoughtful questions, and, when we disagreed, we did it in good faith. This is what democracy looks like. The bylaws were ratified, with a single dissension. You can read the final draft of East Bay DSA's bylaws.