Why I Support Truth North 2.0 (And You Should Too)




A year ago, over 80% of TCDSA members ratified the True North resolution. The steering committee elected on this platform was thereby charged by the chapter with trying something a little different from what our “big tent” had done previously:  keeping the organization’s sites trained, as the resolution proposed, on just a few focused campaigns.

The rationale? With more focus, we could more effectively build our base, organization, and impact by picking (and winning) a few highly visible fights with the ruling class. In other words, the chapter voted to try doing a few things well rather than continuing to do a lot of things without much combined impact on building working-class power in the Twin Cities.

One year later, anyone who’s been watching would be hard pressed to deny that this strategy has paid off (and then some). By keeping almost all of our chapter’s limited resources laser-focused on supporting the fight to block the demolition of the East Phillips Roof Depot, by strategically running socialist candidates in races against some of the most powerful incumbents on the Minneapolis City Council (such as Council president, Andrea Jenkins), and by slowly but surely building cross-union and -organizational solidarity around the planned convergence of 30K+ local workers whose contracts will all come due in spring of 2024, TCDSA has become a household name among the cities’ ruling elite, and more and more among the working class of the Twin Cities, too.

All of Minneapolis — the developer-class PAC that brought you the deluge of glossy 4-color mailers against public safety beyond policing during the 2021 municipal elections — not to mention the political home of the Downtown Council, Minnesota Business Roundtable, Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, and Minneapolis Foundation — has been mentioning TCDSA by name in its member communications. The Star Tribune has called out DSA numerous times since Jenkins lost the Ward 8 DFL endorsement and has been trailing in the polls behind TCDSA-endorsed candidate, Soren Stevenson; and they’ve even begun labeling candidates in the upcoming November election as “TCDSA-endorsed” in order to warn conservative voters of the real threat we pose to the corporate status quo. As the Strib’s recent side-by-side printing of TCDSA co-chairs’ op-ed alongside that of Downtown Council chair Steve Kramer’s makes patently clear, we’ve managed to emerge in one short year as a serious threat to the seat of ruling-class power in Minneapolis.

But as they say, there’s no such thing as negative publicity. Because of course, for every conservative homeowner in Ward 13 who is fear-mongered by these publicity tactics, there are just as many progressives and working-class folks for whom this negative publicity piques their interest: What is TCDSA?  and, How can I get in on the trouble they’re making? In the past year, our membership has started growing again. Strategically joining in highly visible and winnable fights with the ruling class has not only helped our siblings-in-arms build the individual and collective power to win (and then channel that power into other, sometimes bigger fights), but the press and social media buzz around our name — both negative and positive — has compounded TCDSA’s power, too.

Now we are poised to do it again in 2023-24 with a renewal and refocusing of last year’s resolution in True North 2.0. Again a slate of leaders are committing to focus our chapter’s resources on a few carefully selected, highly visible, winnable, multiracial working-class fights. As with last year, we are proposing campaigns in three different “buckets” that have proven to be good ways to encompass the interests and talents of members and to align with the socialist multiracial power-building going on in the Cities. The buckets, loosely described, are: labor, tenant organizing, and environmental justice. And of course, a fourth bucket is focused on our ongoing electoral and Socialists in Office work, which both poise candidates to capture power on governing bodies at the city, state and county levels and to serve as individual tribunes of working-class people by being accountable to grassroots movements based in the multiracial working class. 

So in addition to our focus on running, electing and holding accountable socialist candidates for office, we are proposing that in the labor bucket we focus on the still mounting 2024 contract convergence (in spring 2024) and thereafter leveraging that work to continue to build cross union-solidarity, rank and file union leadership, and to strengthen the representation of rank-and-file class-struggle unionists in TCDSA. This aligns with what DSA is focusing on nationally, given the recent vote to invest heavily in labor by compensating two national labor co-chairs for their time. 

The second campaign bucket stays focused on housing, shifting somewhat in the upcoming year to tenant organizing from “rent control.” We intend to pick a battle with a big developer such as Dominium and organize tenants in those buildings. Of course, this will build our base for the rent control and rent stabilization work we’ll be doing in the upcoming 2024 elections by organizing renters who can be mobilized for these and future fights. These struggles will likely include “affordable housing” and related issues like homeless encampments, since in Minneapolis, especially, the City’s repeated encampment sweeps are poor solutions to the problems which corporate landlords like Dominion and property developers create. National DSA has similarly invested in this work by launching and fully funding the Emergency Tenant Organizing Campaign (ETOC), which, like the Emergency Workplace Organizing Campaign (EWOC) that it has funded since 2020, offers trainings for tenants so that they can organize their buildings.

Bucket three will remain focused on ecojustice. Climate catastrophe is compressing our timeline by threatening to compound economic stressors already disproportionately burdening the most vulnerable working-class communities — often communities of color and immigrants. In fights like the Roof Depot, we were able to stand alongside residents of East Phillips and Little Earth as they rejected the City’s subordination of their rights to clean air, water, and land to the interests of corporate developers and residents in more wealthy neighborhoods. This year, we are transferring the lessons from the East Phillips fight to a similar fight in North Minneapolis to demand that the HERC trash incinerator be shut down.

In addition to concentrating our chapter’s limited resources for maximum impact, visibility, and success, we have gained clarity on other criteria to help us decide upon focus areas:

  1. There is a structure that can be used by working-class fighters to advance their interests. In unions and organizing drives, workers have a ready-made structure that they can take hold of, and they have a common adversary: the boss. Similarly, buildings give renters a structure for social relations and have a common adversary: their landlord. And in ecojustice movements like the Roof Depot and HERC, working-class neighbors can easily develop a structure against their common ruling-class enemies. 
  2. Campaigns are in-process and focused around building working-class power. There are lots of things that need our time and attention in this near-dystopic, late-capitalist world. We are wise to know our limits, and recognize that we simply are not in the place to build campaigns from the ground up (at least not yet). We need to invest in projects that are already well underway in working-class communities.
  3. Campaigns must build power for the working class. Charity is not power-building. Soup kitchens, donating, and generally helping those less fortunate than ourselves is important, but it is not the work of socialist organizations like DSA unless it is built into a working-class power-building campaign. DSA is in the business of building and scaling power for the multiracial working-class, so that together we can dismantle capitalism. We need to show up as fellow-fighters in a common cause against this system.
  4. Currently, we need to be focused on campaigns with workers who are most dehumanized by capital. Amazon workers, UPS workers, Delta workers, rail workers, teachers, nurses, etc. are daily squeezed for every last drop of their labor, health, and time. These workers are most ready and likely to fight back. This will also allow TCDSA to bring these workers into our organization. 
  5. Campaigns allow us to use all (or most) of the tools in TCDSA’s toolbox:  electeds, mass action, labor, social media, mutual aid, direct action. As we saw in the Roof Depot/EPNI campaign, the combination of our electeds’ action, mobilizing our members, and leveraging our relationships with organizations and unions across the Cities carries tremendous force when we partner in coalition. We are a mutli-faceted and -talented organization and have the most impact when we intertwine these areas into a powerful fist.
  6. Campaigns create opportunities for solidarity with our other campaigns. In the Roof Depot fight, we brought in unions. In the 2024 fight, we hope to advance common good demands around the environment and housing. Many tenants have overlapping interests in ecojustice and labor. TCDSA is a solidarity-building organization, and we have the ability and will to unite previously siloed efforts like these into one powerful movement for the working class.

If we stay focused in this way this coming year, there will be plenty of opportunities for people with diverse interests and talents to plug in, and for TCDSA to have maximum impact on building multiracial working-class power.

From Cynthia S

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