Although the group doesn't expect a lot of media attention, the conference may generate some news. For starters, it will be the organization's first convention since Horace Small took the reins of the socialist group. Small, an African-American, is a product of the party's Philadelphia operation, one their most radical.
Already, Small is pulling in his own direction. Although globalization is supposed to be the primary theme of the November event, Small told Shore and other local members during a recent visit here that he wants the conference to look inward, too, a request communicated in the local chapter's monthly newsletter, San Diego Socialist.
"Not to grapple with the question, 'Where will we be and what will we be doing a year or two years from now?' is to condemn DSA to shrink and die," the newsletter says. "Small was brutally frank that the Left as a whole is in trouble. Failure, he says, is not an option."
There's also the potential for great political theater at this year's event. Through a scheduling coincidence that has the party delighted, Commerce Secretary William Daley's "U.S. Trade Education Tour" will be passing through San Diego during the conference to tout the advantages of increased global trade. The democratic socialists, which believe current trade agreements threaten American jobs and encourage the exploitation of foreign workers, is already printing the picket signs.
"We'll have a couple of hundred of the most active activists in the country on hand to protest," says a laughing Shore.
But the convention may draw protests, too, because of a rumor making the rounds among some groups on the right that the group has infiltrated Capitol Hill. The rumor apparently began when someone noticed that the party's website (www.dsausa.org) has links to the website of the Progressive Caucus, a group of about 50 left-of-center Democrats in Congress, including Bob Filner (D-Calif.), that the DSA lobbies from time to time.
The rumor came to a head earlier this year when Frank Llewellyn, a member of the party's national political committee, appeared on C-SPAN to talk about the organization. His appearance generated "a lot of hostile callers," says Franco, who demanded Llewellyn "name names." When he told the audience that the party was only loosely associated with the Progressive Caucus and that only two representatives were card-carrying members, a stream of callers labeled Llewellyn "a liar." Llewellyn responded by encouraging doubters to come to San Diego to see for themselves.
"We may have some picketing," says Franco, who admits they haven't even thought about security. "I can't imagine we're going to have riots. Then again, who knows? San Diego is a peculiar city."