Statement on March on Washington

By Jeremy Gong

DSA Momentum has released a statement about our revised position on the proposed national Medicare for all campaign priority:

The internal DSA opposition to the March on Washington tactic has been thoughtful and articulated in good faith. Members have raised concerns about how smaller and newer locals, or locals far from Washington, would contribute. They have questioned how this march would be different from the cascade of other Marches on Washington this year. And many expressed that they would like to work with us on a national campaign so long as it did not center on this specific tactic.

As such we’ve decided to shift away from the March on Washington tactic. We propose to amend the original campaign plan, and instead have the national Medicare-for-All campaign culminate in a nationally coordinated Day of Action, with DSA’s national organization planning major actions in a few different regions simultaneously. A Day of Action would give us the ability to experiment with a diverse range of tactics while still providing a focal point around which locals can mobilize labor and community allies. And it would mean the national organization could work with chapters from where they are right now.

You can read the full statement here.

I still believe that a March on Washington would be the best tactic through which to carry out a national DSA Medicare-for-All campaign, except it has one major flaw: It is not as popular among DSA members as we hoped it would be. I don’t believe that any tactic will be successful if it is not carried out by thousands of DSA activists across the country. In a decentralized, volunteer organization, that will only happen when members’ enthusiasm is high.

I have confidence that, if we had the time and capacity, we could convince a lot of the skeptics of the merits of this plan. But at this point, two weeks out from the convention, overloaded with convention preparations and local organizing, time and capacity is something we just don’t have.

Therefore, I support the compromise plan put forward by DSA Momentum, and look forward to collaborating with comrades across the country in making this a success. I think it is a smart way to address the concerns of many of the March’s critics while still maintaining all of the key elements of the plan, which have resonated with the vast majority of delegates I’ve spoken with. Chief among those popular aspects are trainings and national resources provided to locals across the country, not just to those lucky enough to have state-based legislation on the table.

This compromise won’t satisfy everyone. In addition to those interested in strictly state-based legislative fights–which would leave out the vast majority of chapters–or those who think we shouldn’t work on single payer until federal legislation is within reach, those who insist on higher degrees of local autonomy will be disappointed. However, to those concerned about local autonomy, I would clarify: this national campaign priority does not preclude any attendant local activity. In fact, by planning a few regional actions, national can consolidate its limited resources and make sure that locals in regions across the country are not only involved in the day of action, but also included in the months of capacity-building activities leading up to it (think canvassing training, local rallies, and coalitions with local labor unions). And keep in mind that no national campaign priority can be forced upon DSA locals: locals will participate in national activities to the extent they wish, and can still do any other activities that they find to be important.

I hope that this compromise can allow people to come together around a plan that the vast majority of members are really excited about. In that case, we might be able to spend more time debating the dozens of other very important, complicated, and even contentious political and organizational issues, such as our national electoral strategy or how we practice internal democracy.

Finally, my comrade, March on Washington co-proposer, and DSA Momentum slate-mate Dustin Guastella is still nobly fighting for the March on Washington proposal, and I support this. I think the debates prompted by the proposal have been and will continue to be fruitful. This is exactly the kind of comradely debate over strategy and politics that I believe is needed for thousands of us to develop as critical, effective socialist organizers.