By Michael A. Dover
The recent public calls for the expulsion of Congressman Jamaal Bowman from DSA raise serious issues for DSA. I have written the Congressman to applaud his courage in speaking from conviction and for using his position in Congress to establishing relationship with Israelis and Palestinians both in the Middle East and in the United States.
I have also written the NPC in the hopes that in meeting with comrade Bowman, they clarify his rights as a member to hold opinions and to take actions which may differ from DSA convention resolutions and platform planks. I oppose the view that endorsement of a candidate who is elected to office requires them to represent our views rather than the elected officials views as to how to represent their constituents.
Also, I note the provisions of Article III (Members), Section 4 of the CSA Constitution. I further note that the relevant bylaws provision, Section 3, refers to “substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization,” but that there is no definition of principles or policies.
In the absence of any future convention action or previous notice to members as to such a definition, I feel that the NPC should clarify its understanding of its meaning. The NPC should state that Article I of the DSA Constitution is the most appropriate and fair definition at this time. After all, the convention explicitly declined to require agreement with the platform planks, and there has never been a formal expectation that members agree with particular convention resolutions.
Such a clear statement is necessary in order to stave off weaponization of national and local Codes of Conduct to inhibit rigorous debate and toleration of disagreement among our members. I am concerned that public calls by individuals and DSA bodies for expulsion of members or for consideration of their expulsion can contribute to silencing and marginalizing members with whom one disagrees. If members or collective bodies have such concerns, they should be raised through proper channels to the HGO officers.
Michael A. Dover
Member of North Star