SDUSA held its biennial Convention on Monday, August 26-27 in Buffalo, NY. Without a doubt it was the best convention we’ve had in over 10 years. For those that know the history of the SD, you know that our organization suffered some significant setbacks during the late 1990s and early 2000s. But the SD has come back from the brink and this Convention was infused with a spirit of renewal that was simply invigorating. If past dysfunctions were caused by a lack of motivation, we can thank the new and more crazy Republican Party for our recovery. Faced with a GOP that wants to “end Medicare as we know it”, ban contraceptives, and eliminate bargaining rights for workers, we have renewed vigor. Those who try to keep us down have infused us with the energy to rise up. In the photo at the right are our National Committee members standing in front of a photo of our founder, Eugene V. Debs. In addition to those pictured, Steve Weiner- NC member from Oregon and Craig Miller- Co-Chair from New Jersey, were both participating on line. We had additional members and guests present in Buffalo and on-line as well. A special thank you to Christie at Rust Belt Books for allowing the use of the meeting room.
We had 4 great speakers in the opening session of the Convention. I won’t give lengthy accounts of their remarks because we will be posting some videos during the next week.
The speakers were 1) Jim Anderson- church deacon and local community activist who spoke of the needs of those who have been most severely affected by the Recession. 2) Roger Cook, Director of WNYCOSH and a WFP activist, who spoke about how dirty money, not great ideas, sways elections. 3) Richard Lipsitz, President of WNY Federation of Labor and Business Agent of Teamsters Local 264, who spoke on the role that organized labor plays in elections despite decreasing numbers of union members. 4) David Hacker, Vice Chair of the SD, spoke about how the new Social Democrats USA differs from the old and what our driving principles are today. The speakers were well received and vigorously applauded for the work they do supporting the working class and poor.
Of course, in addition to hearing great speakers, there was organizational business to attend to. For 5 hours in the afternoon the National Committee slogged away at rules changes, election, modifications to the SD platform (our Principles), a resolution on Syria, and lastly our solid endorsement of the Obama-Biden ticket. A formal announcement of that endorsement will be coming out in about a week. By the end of the Convention we were certainly ready for a beer and some of those famous Buffalo wings!
Labor Day is just 3 days away. It is, in affect, New Year’s Day for workers. We finished the previous working year with August vacations, and we start our new working year with a weekend holiday celebrating the contributions of all workers, unionized and non-unionized alike. After that, it’s back to work. We focus our attention back on our workbench, lean into the tasks at hand, and engage our work with steely resolve. That same spirit is felt in the SD as we approach the new work year. This will be a good year for the SD and a year of renewed hope for working people everywhere.