Reflections on the Single-Payer Strategy Conference

By Jen J

“Everybody in, nobody out,” the crowd chanted as the 2018 Single-Payer Strategy Conference opened. The chant set the tone and captured the conference’s goal: creating a Medicare for All system that provides healthcare as a right to all U.S.residents.

Healthcare-NOW! and The Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Healthcare organized the conference to bring together labor, community organizers, and politicians in the fight to make healthcare a universal right. More than 30 DSA members joined organizers from around the country in Minneapolis on June 22 to 24 to chart a path to victory.

DSA is providing an extensive ground game in this fight, with 150 chapters canvassing for Medicare for All; no other organization is doing anything similar on such a large scale. Our politics also set us apart. While many people spoke about the need to reach out to the business community (a message that fell flat with the crowd), we offered a more exciting strategy. 

At the Saturday plenary, DSA member Dustin Guastella laid out the three principles of our campaign: political and ideological clarity in our demands, naming the enemy (insurance companies, hospitals, and drug companies), and a mass approach to political organizing.This fight will not be won by money or policy wonks, he argued. It will be won by a mass movement that demands that our healthcare system be run for people, not profit.

DSA should be proud of the work we are doing. We are marching hand in hand with some of the strongest players in this fight, such as Physicians for a National Health Program and National Nurses United (NNU). On the conference’s last day, Holly Miller of NNU declared that we have built a movement strong enough to scare those in power; we are not just fighting the hospitals, big pharma, and the insurance companies; we are fighting capitalism itself.

Becky Bond, author of Rules for Revolutionaries, said that despite widespread despair, there’s an opening for radical change today that we cannot afford to waste. Bond’s vision for mass organizing fits neatly with DSA’s strategy. Rejecting the #resistance model of going to the protest of the moment, she told the organizers in the room to put people to work. “People are just waiting to be asked to do something big to win something big,” Bond said. “People are less willing to do something small to win something small.”

DSA is doing something big, and we are starting to win big. To continue taking power from the capitalist class, we need to keep growing. We will do so, one door knock at a time.

We knocked on doors on the 15th for Julia and the NY Health Act and will be doing more. Watch the calendar for events!

(For more videos from the conference go to