(This post has been adapted from the convention speech given by outgoing co-chair Ian R.)
Given that this is my last meeting as co-chair, I wanted to share a few parting thoughts as we transition to a new steering committee and a new page in the life of our chapter. The past several years have been difficult for our organization. Once explosive growth has slowed to a trickle, and we have had to become more intentional in our efforts to engage with TCDSA members. The energy of mass resistance that highlighted the early days of the Trump administration are long gone, and replaced by strategic uncertainty and bipartisan reaction. Our organizing is defined by contradictions: mass uprisings for racial justice taking place only months before the increasing consolidation of power behind the police and their supporters; unthinkable successes in labor organizing occurring as the American Oligarchs grow their wealth exponentially during a time of social and political crisis; and our organization gaining electoral success and political traction at a time of exhaustion and an uncertain political horizon. I want to call on all of us, including those of us who are exiting our time in leadership of the organization, to be present and engaged over the coming years as we navigate these challenges together.
I’ve heard it said that for a person to be willing to organize, to stand up and fight, they must first believe that they deserve better than what they are currently getting. At a time when much of the basics of life — housing, healthcare, education, are prohibitively expensive, financialized, and placed out of reach of working people, the capitalists have all but made that case for us. But people need to hear from us, from socialists, that they deserve better than what they are getting now.
I believe that the second step in activating someone is for them to believe that what they deserve is in fact, possible. In DSA, we often use the phrase “A Better World is Possible.” Sometimes we mean that sarcastically, as we look at the horrors wrecked on our earth and our lives by a system defined by greed and motivated by profit and feel hopeless but to shout that it doesn’t have to be this way. But we can also shout it as a call for hope and movement “A Better World is Possible” because we are on our way to building it, and when people join us, when they get in the streets, when they find community and solidarity within DSA, they can see a glimpse of a future world that centers human need, planetary health, and social harmony.
Finally, I believe that mass participation in political change requires a belief that the methods of change being undergone are actually capable of producing that change. That the actions we are taking aren’t symbolic — they aren’t simply to display who we are or what we believe and achieve our own catharsis or absolution from an unjust system, but that we intend to change things and challenge for power, and that all workers who seek the same change can join us in making it, regardless of whether they have been to our meetings, voted for our candidates, or have consumed the same podcasts, zines, or books. Sometimes it is out of our control if the protests we attend and organize are a mass event or a cathartic show of our rage, but let us always strive to identify how we can make our work effective in challenging capital, with the knowledge that only then can we grow Twin Cities DSA into the organization it can be and must be to build a better world.
A Better World is Possible, Comrades.