Why we should canvas for Jovanka and Gayle

  • Statement about: Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin
  • For these candidates: I support a strong endorsement with a commitment to "boots on the ground" support from DSA.
  • Summary: Incorporating RPA candidates into our canvasing program will build power

Written by East Bay DSA members Megan Svoboda, Abigail Gutmann-Gonzalez, Zach McDonald, Mark Gabriel, and Ari Marcantonio

As leaders in the EBDSA canvassing program we understand the important role that canvassing plays in building working-class power. We know that regular door knocking and intentional relationship building around a shared struggle are essential in our work to do mass organizing for universal non-reformist reforms that will pave the way to a socialist future. We are committed to the campaign for single-payer and Medicare for All because it is a struggle that unites the working class. In many long conversations with our neighbors we have seen the pivotal role this campaign plays in building our chapter, DSA, and socialism.

We also understand the incredible amount of time that goes into planning, executing, and following up after a canvass and all the incredible socialists who are expanding their politics through this work.

With all of this in mind we would like to speak in favor of endorsing Jovanka Beckles and Gayle Mclaughlin with substantial resources. We would like to take this opportunity to explain why and what we believe "endorse with substantial resources" should look like.

Through our endorsement, we would gain major benefits from working with RPA and their candidates. We would build close relationships, learn from the other organization's wealth of experience, and connect with the many labor activists who are at its core. All the while we could advance the cause of single-payer in our communities, educate and agitate our neighbors and continue to build the relationships that have and will continue to be key to our organizing.

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) has been a corporate-free, grassroots, year-round political organization in Richmond, CA since 2003. They've organized and won numerous significant campaigns including rent control, a citizen controlled police review board, environmental protections, and higher wages for working class families. They've elected numerous members to office and currently hold 5 out of 7 Richmond city council seats.

Endorsing the RPA candidates gives us the opportunity to learn from a highly regarded left political organization, expand our base, build a strategic relationship, and further develop the capacity of our chapter. This endorsement is an important opportunity for EBDSA to continue building working class power, not a step in the other direction.

If we voted to endorse both candidates with substantial resources we could strategically fold them into our current canvassing program. By including campaign materials in the canvases, we can build support for the candidates while simultaneously building long-term community connections that will help us advance a broader socialist vision. Our focus would still be on single-payer and having deep organizing conversations with our neighbors about the impacts of a capitalist medical system on their daily lives; we could still ask them to imagine what it would take to transform this system so that it prioritized people over profit and help them articulate their role in achieving that end.

We know that the fight for single-payer is a long one, and that it might take years to pass any substantive legislation. We also know that it's important to keep the pressure up, particularly when the momentum is on our side. Therefore, while we see campaigning for the RPA candidates as a strategic move for our organization, we also understand that organizing around issues, particularly non-reformist reforms that increase the ability of workers to engage in class struggle against capital, should always be at the core of what we do. That is what builds working class power and it should always be the driving force of our organization.

We have the opportunity to play a key role in the election an open democratic socialist to the California State Assembly, in a district that a significant portion of our membership calls home. Electing a corporate money-free, committed single-payer supporter—accountable to our RPA allies—would strengthen our hand in the fight for single-payer, while building a relationship with a grassroots working-class organization that could bolster our shared organizing for decades.

The statement above is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the opinions of East Bay DSA, its local council, or its members.