Socialist Night School: What is Socialism
At our March 3rd meeting the members of Charlotte Metro DSA engaged in the debate facing all of our fellow 60,000 comrades: whether to affirm the demands of the National Political Committee (NPC) and provide financial and labor support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and more broadly, what Bernie Sanders and his bid for president means to the burgeoning and resurgent Socialist movement in the United States. Naturally, as good Socialists, we held a structured and comradery debate about what our role nationally is in relation to electoral politics and what our capabilities as a chapter are to affect change locally through elections and campaigning. Our conversation about local needs and capabilities transitioned to why the national debate was happening so early in the 2020 election cycle, and was seemingly predetermined by the NPC, when an opportunity to decide this more democratically and transparently is only months away.
Regarding the endorsement for Bernie Sanders for President set forth by DSA NPC, Charlotte Metro DSA decided to delay our decision whether to endorse in order to better focus on issues that affect our local communities and allow us to build a broader working class movement in the Charlotte Metro area. We also call on the NPC not to endorse at this time, especially under the current conditions of the endorsement presented. This endorsement is too important and impactful to be decided by so few individuals and without the transparency necessary for a democratic organization. Additionally, we are concerned that in its current form the endorsement will pull too much money away from other more necessary DSA-led endeavors to continue to build our movement, particularly by chapters outside of major metropolitan areas. Due to the lack of horizontal participation and likely cost to Charlotte Metro DSA, we cannot at this time and in good conscience endorse Bernie Sanders for President, and we ask for the NPC to call off its vote for an endorsement and to instead let it be determined at the General Convention this August in Atlanta.
In Solidarity, CLTMDSA
Hello Charlotte Metro DSA Members,
2018 was our second year in existence, and one that saw a lot of change and action. Firstly, our charter and bylaws were accepted from DSA National and we transitioned from an organizing committee to an official chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. With official chapter status, we were able to hold our first officer elections in November, and now we can start the process to become a non-profit, open a bank account and receive a percentage of our dues back from national’s coffers.
Last year, we hosted several political education events to increase consciousness around issues important to building working class solidarity and power in our community. In January we hosted Medicare for All expert, writer and fellow DSA member, Tim Faust, for a rousing speech and Q and A session about Health Care justice. In May we put on a labor week with help from local unions and hosted two events at the IBEW hall. The first of the events was a panel discussion with local union officers and labor organizers, where the speakers dissected local peculiarities of organizing labor in the South and problems facing unions in Charlotte. To cap off the week we hosted the creators of the documentary “Union Time” about unionization of a Smithfield plant in eastern North Carolina.
Mutual aid is also an important part of building working class power. Our chapter hosted 6 brake light clinics last year, because broken or burnt out taillights are one of the most common reasons for traffic stops. By offering free light changes, we can help folks in marginalized and exploited communities avoid police interaction that can lead to arrest or violence. We also assisted Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy in their upkeep and maintenance of their office space so they can continue advocating for their clients. Helping CCLA allows Charlotte Metro DSA to increase local ties and help out a wonderful organization that offers legal assistance to the most vulnerable in our community.
To continue building an effective chapter, many of our members have gone to regional trainings in Atlanta, Asheville and Knoxville. We have learned skills to help us organize our membership, develop leadership in the chapter and assess obstacles to change locally. These trainings also led to the creation of the Outreach and Retention Committee to continue these lessons and build a sustainable and effective chapter.
There are already many plans in motion for 2019, and more to come. Housing will be our chapter’s focus issue in 2019, and in February we had our first Housing Committee meeting. In less than 18 months, the RNC will be in our city and we have begun strategizing how to be most effective during the convention. This year we will also have our first May Day picnic to celebrate International Worker’s Day. There will certainly be more to come!
The Charlotte Metro Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (CLTMDSA) strongly opposes the six NC constitutional amendments slated for the November 2018 ballot. These amendments are unintelligible jargon, unreadable, and ultimately part of a concentrated GOP power grab to gerrymander and take powers away from other elected officials. We urge others in the Charlotte-Metro region to also vote against all six amendments. Read more about them below.
Amendment 1: Photo ID voting requirement
This will require voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot. Defenders of these laws claim that IDs reduce voter fraud; however considering in-person voter fraud is extremely rare, requiring voters to show identification is more of “a solution in search of a problem.” The reality is that these ID laws prevent many from exercising their right to vote and are discriminatory against the poor, racial minorities, and other vulnerable groups.1
Amendment 2: Create an eight-member bipartisan election board
Under current North Carolina law, the election board consists of nine members – four from the governor’s party, four from the other major party, and one independent – with the governor overseeing the board. This amendment will reduce the nine-member election board down to eight, all of which would be appointed by the general assembly thus taking power away from the governor.2 As the current governor is a Democrat, this amendment is simply a blatant power grab by the Republican- controlled legislature.
Amendment 3: Reduce the state income tax cap from 10% to 7%
As Democratic Socialists, we believe that people should pay their fair share and that if you have more, you should pay more in order to create a society that meets the needs of all. This amendment would cap the income tax at 7%, thus concentrating more wealth for the wealthy while putting more financial burden on lower-income earners and potentially cutting funds from needed services.
From the News & Observer: “A state’s revenue needs can vary unpredictably over time and income tax caps eliminate flexibility. If income taxes can’t be raised to meet needs, a state’s primary alternative is to raise sales taxes (and various usage fees). Sales taxes (and usage fees) impact poor people much more than they impact wealthy people: Poor people must spend most of their income, subjecting most of their income to sales tax, while wealthier people spend a much lower percentage of their income. Moreover, [this specific cap] locks in rates that are lower than recent historical rates and the new flat-rate tax structure shifts more of the income tax burden to lower earners. Other states such as Kansas that have lowered tax rates dramatically have had poor results. We are already seeing hints of the impact in N.C. with a precipitous drop in inflation-adjusted per student spending in public schools.”3
Amendment 4: Establish a merit system for filing judicial vacancies
This amendment is another attempted power grab by the NC GOP and shifts the power of who appoints judges between elections from the governor to the state legislature. Instead of the governor making appointments, anyone in the state may submit recommendations to the general assembly who will then provide the names of two NCGA-selected nominees to the governor. The governor will then have to select from between those two nominees who are not subject to gubernatorial veto. If a vacancy occurs right before an election, the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court is then tasked with the appointment instead of the governor.4
Amendment 5: Protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife
There is no current threat to these activities in the state, and having this on the ballot is more so an attempt to get the GOP base to show up to the polls. Since the amendment refers to making these “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife,”5 this also causes ecological concerns in that it could result in reduced protections for wildlife areas and habitats. It also defers hunting and fishing laws to the general assembly, which takes power away from local groups to establish regulations and create or maintain protected wildlife areas. Again, this is nothing more than another attempted power grab by the state legislature.
Amendment 6: Add rights for victims of felony crimes
As Democratic Socialists, we stand for the abolishment of prisons and the carceral state. This particular amendment is dangerous as it could result in even more people in prisons and with harsher sentencing. There are also risks that this could create even more bias against defendants facing trial.
Mark Rabil, law professor at Wake Forest University says, “Obviously everybody agrees victims should have rights, but the way I see the goal of Marsy’s Law is so much more than that................. The bottom line is
they’re giving victims and victims’ families constitutional party status that can override the constitutional rights of a defendant to a fair trial and the right of districts attorneys to pursue cases in ways they perceive to be fair.”6
On top of the fact that the criminal justice system already largely discriminates against vulnerable communities and racial minorities, this amendment is an open door to further exacerbate that discrimination and create even more disparity within our justice system.
CLTMDSA sees these amendments as disingenuous and not in the best interest of the people of North Carolina. Rather these efforts are to increase GOP control, consolidate power for the wealthy, and create more inequality for the most vulnerable in the state. Please join us in voting NO on all six in November.
1https://www.aclu.org/other/oppose-voter-id-legislation-fact-sheet 2 https://longleafpolitics.com/nc-constitutional-amendments-2018/
3https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article214823780.html 4https://longleafpolitics.com/nc-constitutional-amendments-2018/ 5https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article216437935.html 6https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218118890.html
Charlotte Metro DSA
unequivocally supports Palestinian liberation, unequivocally condemns the State of Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, unequivocally supports the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,
unequivocally supports the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties,
unequivocally condemns the Israeli sniper massacre of Palestinian protesters and Israeli bombardments of Gaza,
unequivocally calls for the U.S. embassy to be moved back to Tel Aviv,
and unequivocally endorses the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement." from 9/9/18