The general direction of the Social Democrats USA is legally set by its National Conventions which according to its Constitution are supposed to be held every two years. Between National Conventions the ongoing policies of the organization are set by its National Committee (NC). These meetings are conducted by teleconference either during the first week of each month. SD officers are elected at the National Conventions. The members of the National Committee are the state and local affiliate representatives from various parts of the nation.
Unfortunately under the leadership of the old SDUSA the constitutional requirement that National Conventions be held biannually lapsed in the early 1990’s. Thus it has only been under the new leadership of the organization that National Conventions have revived. Thus a refounding Convention was held on May 3, 2009. At that time the current National Committee of the SDUSA was elected by Convention vote.
The Social Democrats USA has a rather decentralized organizational structure in which state and local affiliates are free to set their own policies and political initiates as long as these do not violate the principles or clear national policies of the National organization. Since all the political work of an effective organization will ultimately have to be done locally it makes sense that a lot of autonomy exist at the level. As David Hacker in his Manifesto states:
“Our conception of the SD will be …. completely in accord with an organization that espouses social and political democracy from the bottom up. We believe that a group cannot advocate democracy until it first practices it in the structure and internal life of the organization. Therefore, the revived SDUSA will be a decentralized organization with the emphasis on the growth of local and state affiliates. Moreover, each State organization will decide where to place its political priorities. The members of one state or local organization of the SDUSA can, for example, decide at their own convention, to reestablish the state body as a political party, using the name Social Democratic Party or Socialist Party of that respective state, to run a candidate or candidates on its own ballot line for local winnable political offices. On the other hand, the members of another State organization of the SDUSA, or Local could vote to work with the labor movement and other progressives in the Democratic Party, carrying out the old realignment strategy. The national office would not be allowed to interfere with the political strategy decisions of the state or local organizations, unless they violate the provisions of the SD’s constitution or Statement of Principles.”
This decentralized nature of the SDUSA which hopefully will promote a harmony within the SDUSA is which is lacking within most other political organizations. We believe that this way of doing politics may lead to better political result than the older model of ideological uniformity practices by most other organizations.
Officers and National Committee Members
Patty Friend, National Chair
Patty has a long history with Social Democrats USA, dating back to the early 70’s. She was an assistant in the California office. She is active today in the Los Angeles area, running an organization that finds housing for single women in desperate situations.
David Hacker, Secretary
David A. Hacker has been a member of the SDUSA since 1978, He was a member of the City Committee of Local New York from 1979 to 1989, and was chair of the Local in 1980-1981. He joined the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) in1977 and was a founding member of DSA in 1982. He attended or was a delegate to the SD Conventions of 1978, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1990. He attended or was a delegate to the DSA Conventions of 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1991. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Council of Jewish Currents, and was the magazine’s indexer from 1980 to 1995. He wrote for the social democratic publication Appeal to Reason from 1982 to 1988. He was a Board Member of the Long Island Peace and Social Justice organization, PeaceSmith from 1982-1989 and Chair of the Board from 1987-1989. He was a member of the Nassau County Democratic Committee from 1981 to 1989. He is a professional librarian who worked at the New York Post from 1978-1993. He worked from 1995-1997 as an assistant archivist/staff historian for the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives processing the Edward I Koch Mayoral Papers.
Rick D’Loss, Treasurer
Rick has held leadership positions in various corporate and community organizations and in 2009 was elected Councilman in the Borough of Carnegie, near Pittsburgh, where he is serving his third term. During the early 1990′s he served as president of the Northwest Airlines Foremen’s Association, a labor organization. Today he runs a small consulting business which focuses on aircraft technical training. He sits on the Carnegie Democratic Committee and is a past Chair. Rick is a former Marine and is an active member of several veterans organizations.
Michael Mottern, Vice Chair
Michael Mottern was raised in a working class military family. Despite having severe
dyslexia, Michael holds an undergraduate degree in history from Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York. He was a substitute teacher in North Tonawanda, NY from 2010-12, and was a member of the NTSTA. From there on he went to protest and camp at the Occupy Buffalo Encampment in the fall of 2011, “The Year of the Protester.”
Michael’s politics are clearly aligned with the working class, but he has an aversion to the far left because his great grandfather, an Estonian, died in the Soviet gulag. His father’s father Frank H. Mottern was in the CCC, (Civilian Conservation Corps) and was a member of the United Auto Workers union. Michael is a past member of DSA & SPUSA, but finds Social Democrats USA a better fit. Michael sits on the endorsement committee of the Working Families Party in WNY. He hopes that his work in the SD will help preserve the legacy of Eugene Debs.
Having joined SD USA in 2016 after having been with DSA, Sheldon Ranz is a budget manager with the NYC Department of Homeless Services, free-lance political writer and activist with Decrim-NY. His writings for Jewish Currents and New Politics and his 1980s / 1990s WBAI radio programs have explored themes ranging from innovative solutions for a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine to connections between the sex industry and prophetic Jewish dissent. He organizes SD USA’s activities at the Left Forum and serves as its liaison to Adalah-NY. He is the editor of the SD USA blog, Socialist Currents.
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