2022 Organizing Guide

Table of Contents

2. Build Your Committee and Grow Class Consciousness

DSA is a fantastic place to find members and organizers for your workgroup/committee who don’t just want to work around the edges of the healthcare system, but work at the point of class conflict for universal change. Find other members who want to organize for universal healthcare, who work in healthcare, or want their union to support free healthcare, then strategize and share the work with them.

Political education events, whether organized by others in your chapter or yourself, can be opportunities to find people either closely aligned with you or potentially aligned with you to run campaigns with. Even better, they’re a chance to face the public and bring people into the chapter and campaign. Take opportunities to educate your chapter members about universal healthcare, discuss ideas for a campaign, and teach practical organizing skills.

Model Political Education Session:

  • For guidance on how to hold the event
  • Introduce who’s putting on the training
    • Your chapter, your working group/committee, the facilitators
  • Motivate the audience for universal healthcare
    • Give background on health outcomes and insurance in the US
      • Give background on COVID in your area and in the US
    • Give background on your community’s health outcomes and insurance rates
      • If you have any common health insurers in your area, do research on their political initiatives and the salaries of their administrators. How much money does the insurance CEO who lives uptown make? How many claims are denied each year by that insurance company?
    • Give background on any local labor actions that have been disciplined by removing healthcare benefits, or local contracts that made concessions in healthcare
  • Motivate universal healthcare work as a socialist project
    • This is a chance to discuss some important fundamentals:
    • Our system of production is capitalist, in which a small class owns and controls productive property. They are the employing/ruling class. This class competes among themselves for control and profit. The working class sells our labor to this class to produce and provide the goods and services needed to live.
      • This is an unstable and exploitative relationship and system, and the interests between these classes are necessarily at odds in terms of control, wages, and more - a class conflict.
    • Access to the value the working class produces has become increasingly unavailable under neoliberalism in which every service for providing for our needs is privatized for profit by the ruling class & the expense to access them shifted onto the individual/family, creating a profound dependence on the employing class.
    • Think of capitalism as a totality that affects not only production - the work it takes to produce goods and services - but their circulation and exchange.
      • So our fight takes place not only at work (the point of production) but at all exchanges that contain a class conflict - in getting housing, healthcare, childcare, education and more.
    • Socialists see increasing class consciousness, awareness of this system, and organizing the working class to make demands of it, as the way to overcome capitalism and achieve socialism, a new system of production.
    • Under socialism, the distribution of basic needs is removed from the market, & workers democratically control our workplaces, plan the economy and oversee the state.
      • Social and political competition between the employing and working classes is called class struggle - in terms of wage and condition demands, extractions from capitalists, law and policy changes to weaken capitalists and gain state power, deeper democratic rather than bureaucratic structures, petitions, strikes, & non-compliance.
    • The working class is divided into active (employed) and reserve (unemployed), all of whom are not only competing for a wage but benefits - which are tied to the employer, as we do not have universal benefits.
      • We understand that the presence of a reserve of unemployed people serves a purpose for the employing class, by weakening the power of workers, so besides immiseration, this drives down wages.
    • To fight back against the power of employers and the effects of unemployment on everyone’s wages and conditions, you need to enact universal programs.
      • Employed members of the working class are more likely to be compliant with bosses if they know that they can easily be replaced (and therefore lose their benefits) by unemployed/underemployed members of the working class.
      • It is a threat to the working class struggle to see our interests as tied to our employers rather than to each other.
      • Our benefits being tied to our employers inhibits our ability to strike, leave, or be non-compliant in abusive workplace situations - or even make demands for other better conditions.
    • Universal healthcare is essential as a socialist demand!
      • Universal healthcare strengthens the capacities of the working class to organize against capital by providing independence from the employing class
      • Eliminates the capitalist health insurance industry, which acts as a gatekeeper in receiving care and profits from our fees
      • Is a material benefit for the working class
      • Is essential for class struggle - but also for solidarity with each other rather than competition
  • Describe DSA’s approach to universal healthcare/M4A
    • Progressive organizations tend to receive funding to organize from foundations and grants, which limit them by employing people and attaching them to the 1%’s symbolic vision of social change: DSA is an independent, member-funded organization through dues (like a union) and democratic decision-making. We can, and must, take a different approach to organizing for our class.
    • We don’t just pressure politicians directly or rely on lobbying efforts, we must change the conditions for them by having working people & organized labor pledge to commit only to electeds who support single payer. Build a constituency that can only be won by those who support universal healthcare.
    • Deep community organizing: knocking doors and connecting demands to an organization
      • Our members aren’t just in elected offices to make new laws
        • Emphasis on building working class power
        • Pass reforms that weaken the employing class in key industries
      • We don’t rely on legislators to “do the right thing”
        • We build mass movements that give them no choice: we cut our walking turf for canvasses right to their doorstep!
        • We know that they will only do what we want if their jobs are threatened. We pledge to not vote for or donate to them unless they give in to our demands.
    • We have 5 standards an initiative should meet to be a worthwhile campaign for universal healthcare, and Medicare for All meets it!
      • A Single Health Program
        • Everyone will be covered by one health insurance program, administered by the federal government, and have equal access to all medical services and treatments.
      • Comprehensive Coverage
        • All services requiring a medical professional will be fully covered. You go to the doctor of your choice. Dental, vision, mental health, and pharmaceuticals are all included.
      • Free at the point of service
        • All healthcare costs will be financed through tax contributions based on ability to pay: no copays, no fees, no deductibles and no premiums. Ever.
      • Universal Coverage
        • Coverage for all United States residents — non-citizens included.
      • Jobs
        • A jobs initiative and severance for those affected by the transition to government-run healthcare.
  • Campaign life, write your rap - train organizers to make asks for universal healthcare to members of the community
    • Review the structure of our Rap Breakdown and brainstorm how it applies to the issues you face and the campaign you’re waging
    • Make sure your organizers are prepared to roll with resistance as you review your rap - get people ready to educate and make asks.
    • How would they respond to these frequently asked questions while in conversation?
    • Teach them skills like Affirm, Answer, Redirect:
      • Affirm
        • Let them know you’re listening, you understand, and their feelings are valid. Don’t get mad at them. It’s (mostly) the fault of wealthy interests, which have been promoting a hyper individualist ideology for decades.
      • Answer
        • Give a truthful, concise answer to the question. Don’t be evasive. If there’s a grain of truth to the message, say that up front. If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Tell them where they could find the answer and make a note. If they are willing to give their contact information, you could answer in your follow-up email. It isn’t most important to have all the answers, but to connect with the person you are speaking to.
      • Redirect
        • But once you’ve answered the question, don’t get bogged down in too much back-and-forth about it. Instead, be ready with a question that brings the conversation back to your message and points out how it is useful to wealthy interests that they are distracted. Remind them of their issues (if they shared), and that we are making a plan to win, just as social programs have been won before.
    • Teach your canvassers the three keys of making the ask:
      • Be clear: what is your campaign hoping to accomplish, and by when?
      • Name the enemy: who is in your way, and who can respond to your demand? Make it clear why we are in the position of needing a mass movement: we get sick, they get rich.
      • Mass politics: it’s going to take all of us together to make a demand that has leverage.

Not only does holding political education sessions connect you to the chapter and the public, your group members will learn the material well by becoming facilitators. To encourage participation and investment, appoint member volunteers as facilitators so everyone teaches a session. Consider having breakout sessions or a free time during the “Write a Rap” section where members can role-play trainings and discuss common questions people have about universal healthcare all together.

Keep your committee members all in by operating democratically. This means that the decisions you make are voted on by the working group itself and are popular with the organizers. Always ensure that campaigns take place according to chapter bylaws and within the scope of your mission. Mix different strategies and tactics to learn what works.