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Organizing Guide

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How to create a Bernie Plan for your Chapter

So, you want to create a DSA for Bernie campaign plan! How you develop your Bernie Campaign Plan will depend a lot on the context and organization of your chapter. Some chapters are are developing their plans in their electoral committees while others are bringing people together from different projects and starting new committees to design the plan. It’s important to consider, even at this early stage, how you will make sure that your Bernie work is not siloed off from other campaigns, and that all of the work you’re doing is building your chapter!

What follows is a very simple list of suggestions for chapters looking for support in getting this process started, it can and should be adapted to your context. If you are looking for help with any of this please reach out to your Field Organizer or a member of the Bernie Campaign Committee - dsaforbernie@dsausa.org

Step 1: Build a team to develop the Plan

  • Since campaign work can impact all corners of your chapter it’s important to build a team of people who can represent, or who know about, all the work going on. A plan that does not accurately reflect the capacity of your chapter or doesn’t include the perspective of people who would be needed to work on the campaign will not be very successful.
  • Work with elected leaders in your chapter to identify people with the interest, experience, or role that will allow them to best support the development of your chapters Bernie campaign plan.
  • Invite the identified group to an initial meeting to discuss the potential development of a DSA for Bernie Campaign Plan for your chapter!

Step 2: Your first meeting

  • You should plan for this meeting to be long, the sample agenda is three hours, if that’s not possible for the group creating the plan, you could break it up into two meetings. This is a big and important project - it’s good to spend time really thinking about the plan and talking to people about it.
  • Identify one or two people to facilitate the meeting, someone to take notes, and someone to keep time. Work with this group to set an agenda and share it with the rest of the group, along with the time and location of the meeting.
  • Ask attendees to read an article or two to support a political discussion at the beginning of the meeting. Although they add extra time, starting a meeting with a political discussion can help everyone in the group come with a common understanding of why this work is important and how it will help your chapters, DSA, and the socialist movement.

Sample Agenda

Template doc [make a copy]

  1. Welcome and review why you’re all there
    • Time: 10 minutes
    • Use this time to do introductions, go through the agenda, and review why you’re all there.
  2. Political discussion
    • Time: 40 minutes
    • Here are some potential discussion questions that could help keep the conversation about the work you’re all there to do!
      • Why should we as socialists engage with electoral campaigns?
      • What is the role of DSA in national elections?
      • What does Bernie mean when he says “Not me. Us”?
      • What is the role of our chapter in the 2020 presidential race or down ballot races?
      • How would running a DSA for Bernie campaign impact our chapter and politics in our area?
  3. Goals for the campaign
    • Time: 30 minutes
    • This is a time for you to talk about the overarching goals of your campaign? Are they to get Bernie elected? Spread class consciousness? Grow your chapter and DSA?

      You should have more than one goal, so don’t feel like you’re limited but remember identifying too many might confuse the campaign and make organizing harder.
  4. Break
    • Time: 10 minutes
  5. Develop a skeleton of your plan and identify drafters for each section
    • Time: 40 minutes
    • Examples of sections you might want to include:
      • The political rationale for the campaign
      • The goals of the campaign
      • The campaign structure
      • An initial field plan
      • An initial communications plan
      • How the Bernie campaign will relate to other work in your chapter including down ballot candidates/initiatives
      • Labor for Bernie
      • YDSA organizing
      • Racial solidarity
      • Medicare for All
      • Green New Deal
  6. Review Action Items, set next meeting time and close
    • Time: 20 minutes

Step 3: Develop your Plan

  • Schedule regular meetings with the group creating the plan. At each meeting review the sections being developed and discuss any challenges people are facing. Don’t let this take too long, remember the most important thing is that you get out in the field and start organizing. To make sure this is prioritized make your first DSA for Bernie event a part of your plan, so as soon as it gets approved you can get out in the field and start organizing!
  • Before the Plan is totally finished plan a meeting and invite the chapter to review and give feedback on the plan. Incorporate the useful feedback and finalize the plan.
  • Now, you have a DSA for Bernie Campaign Plan present it to your Steering Committee or Chapter Membership and debate it!

Step 4: Plan a meeting to debate the plan and vote!

  • Debating and voting on the plan is an important part of the process. It gives the plan the mandate of the membership and gives members time to give feedback.

Step 5: Plan an event!

  • Once the plan is approved, it’s time to get to work! In some cases it might make sense to be running Bernie events while you are developing your long term plan. Running events while you are building your campaign plan could help you test different methods and get more people involved in the planning stage. The bottom line is, getting out into the field is the most important part of our work. It’s how we help Bernie win and how we build a movement that will last beyond a single campaign! The next section walks you through setting up a successful event.