Until members have agency, EBDSA should not endorse

  • Statement about: Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin
  • For these candidates: I oppose endorsing these candidates.
  • Summary: Given our top-down organizational structure and limited resources, we stand to benefit little from endorsing.

Written by East Bay DSA members Antonio Herrera and William O.

East Bay DSA should not endorse any candidate.

As a nascent organization, we should be flattered that Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles would reach out to us for an endorsement. Such a request speaks volumes about the work we've done since November or longer in the case of our seasoned members.

When Jovanka Beckles was asked why she wanted EBDSA's endorsement, she expressed a desire to build a "meaningful, productive working relationship with the membership." While I wholeheartedly support such a goal, I do not believe that we currently have the organizational structure to allow for such relationship.

Top-Down Organizational Structure

While I believe our chapter's recent resolution to have general meetings is a step in a democratic direction, an endorsement given our current top-down structure(1) will not result in the meaningful relationship Jovanka describes. Instead, an endorsement will reinforce the current power imbalance between membership and our Local Council. Before taking up an offer to sit at the table, let us determine who will be taking the seat because it certainly won't be membership.

Meanwhile, members will become the candidates' personal volunteer force, or as Gayle McLaughin put it, an "infusion of activists and cadre to help us reach the millions we need to reach."

Bandwidth and Resources

To date, when members have proposed to do work outside of single payer, we have been told that the organization does not have the bandwidth or capacity. While much of this reflects the growing pains of a budding organization, such explosive growth should invite reflection and pause, not another opportunity to exacerbate our structural flaws. Resources put to Gayle McLaughlin's and Jovanka Beckle's campaigns will mean even less resources available for organizing tenants, engaging in mutual aid or establishing relationships with potential organizational partners.

Thus, until our organization is restructured to empower and provide members the agency they should have in a democratic organization, East Bay DSA should not endorse any candidate.

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(1) No general meetings built into bylaws, little to no avenues for policy discourse, moderation of member input on Facebook, highly limited access to member list-serve and newsletter, etc.

In solidarity,
Antonio Herrera Cuevas
William Orr

The statement above is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the opinions of East Bay DSA, its local council, or its members.