Philly DSA inaugurated our campaign for Bernie Sanders through our passage of Resolution2018.12.00 at the March 2019 General Meeting. Since then the Steering Committee, LaborBranch, Canvassing Committee, Outreach Committee, and Policy Committee have beenorganizing toward the Bernie campaign. The Local voted to prioritize electing Bernie Sandersagain at our Local Convention.
The Sanders campaign presents Philly DSA with the unique opportunity to engage workingclass voters on democratic socialist issues during the presidential election cycle when most ofthe public is paying attention to politics. Moreover, all of the other priority campaigns our Localapproved at its convention – Building a Green New Deal, Recommit to Medicare for All, andLabor for Bernie and Organizing in our Unions, and Electing Socialist Legislators – are eitherpart of Bernie Sanders's platform or would be favorably impacted by the agenda Sanders ispursuing at the federal level. To cite just one example of how the Sanders agenda stands toaffect our local campaign work, his education platform plank of tripling the federal Title I schoolfunding combined with the energy efficiency retrofitting and grants for electrified school bussesplanks from his Green New Deal proposal would remove many of the obstacles City Councilnow faces in pursuing our priority campaign of modernization and greening of PhiladelphiaSchool District facilities.
This electoral cycle also presents a historic opportunity for Philly DSAto harness progressive voter mobilization to get our own legislative candidates elected.DSA's effort has started off strong with an open strategy meeting enabling our generalmembership to influence the direction of our campaign. At this meeting we decided to prioritizefield and communications campaigns, as well as working in coalition with organized labor.
Already the enthusiasm around Bernie's campaign has been immense, as demonstrated by ourtwo very well-attended debate watch parties, both of which drew audience members who hadnever previously attended any DSA events. Our official canvassing launch on July 27 where wedrew over 78 canvassers, we have knocked 2,000 doors and made 230 positive IDs for Bernie.This work continues apace with our last large-scale canvass drawing 51 people and knocking1,500 doors, and ID’ing another 200 Bernie voters. Our Policy Committee has also developedunique Philadelphia area Bernie Sanders literature in both English and Spanish, as well aslabor-specific literature in conjunction with the Labor Branch. Despite these accomplishmentswe have much more work to do.
Thankfully, national DSA is providing us with state-of-the-art digital organizing tools, like theNGP VAN voter contact software and Spoke for mass texting, that will greatly increase thevolume of voters we can engage.
By the time of the 2016 PA primary, the race had been all but decided for Clinton. However ifSanders, Biden, Harris, and Warren all remain strong candidates through the entire 2020 cycle,PA could play a decisive role in determining the eventual Democratic Party nominee. While theofficial Sanders campaign focuses its efforts in IA, NH, SC, and NV, Philly DSA can use itsindependent campaign to get an early start on influencing the election's outcome. To this end, if
Philly DSA is going to make a significant impact in this campaign over the next 8 months weneed to knock approximately 200,000 doors, and have 50,000 conversations.The Labor for Bernie Commission, which the chapter voted to make a priority platform in theJune Convention, was established by the SC in August. After many discussions with laborbranch members, sympathetic unions and the SC, Labor for Bernie Commission wasestablished to pursue this great work in coalition. Developing strong, meaningful relationshipswith union leadership and union members in Philadelphia is a critical part of DSA’s to work tobuild a broad, working class movement. It’s also imperative for working for Bernie Sanders in2020, because Sanders is the only candidate who has consistently stood with and for unionmembers.
As part of DSA’s Labor for Bernie work, we have been working at the local and national level to build strongconnections with those labor leaders and push for strategic union endorsements. L4B has alsobeen working in close coordination with the Philly DSA Labor Branch to build rank-and-filesupport for Sanders in unions where endorsements aren’t possible.We have developed a set of organizing materials for trade unionists organizing for Bernie,including a Labor for Bernie trifold, emphasizing the fact that Sanders’ platform would include concrete winsfor labor: taking healthcare off the bargaining table, passing the Workplace Democracy Act, androlling back right-to-work legislation at the state level (to name a few).
Last weekend, Labor for Bernie held the first in a series of Bernie organizer trainings planned for the fall.The training was a tremendous success and will be a significant effort moving forward. Withmembers from roughly 10 unions in attendance, the training focused on building organizingplans within those unions.
Moving forward, Labor for Bernie will continue working with our Philly coalition partners, Labor Branchmembers, and members from other branches who are working to launch similar efforts.
Our general work will continue to focus on field strategy and communications facing both ourmembership and the general public. If our existing campaign is to be successful we recommendPhilly DSA commit to the following:– Organizing 20 mass canvasses in the next 8 months– Organizing regular distributed canvasses, starting weekly and scaling up to daily– Phone bank and text our members for all canvasses– Making fundraising pitches at every large-scale Philly DSA event– Follow up with voters we've canvassed to recruit them to DSA– Recording and tracking positive voter IDs with a goal of 50,000 in 8 months– Monthly tabling and leafleting
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