ORMA Newsletter March/April 2020

In this Newsletter:

  1. COVID-19 demonstrates the importance of Medicare For All
  2. Make A Mask!
  3. Join us at ORMA’s next Monthly Virtual Meeting
  4. Fighting for Progressive Policies
  5. Building a Progressive Party
  6. Building Progressive Powerhouses
  7. Get Involved

With COVID-19 ravaging the nation, Medicare For All is needed more than ever!

We hope everyone reading this is safe and practicing social distancing during this difficult time for Massachusetts, our nation, and the world. As more people become infected by COVID-19 throughout the nation and across the Commonwealth, there have been attempts by federal, state, and local governments to “flatten the curve” — in order to keep our health system, and hospitals in particular, from being overwhelmed with a dramatic rise in the number of cases.Sadly, our private insurance-based healthcare system is not set up to deal effectively with this type of health crisis. Over previous decades, the insurance industry has demanded “efficiency” cuts — which have caused everything from a lack of protective gear for healthcare workers to a dearth of hospital beds. As a result, this public health crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better. More Americans will likely get sick and die.

Our nation was not ready for this crisis. As we write this, documented cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have reached more than 615,000. The true number of cases is likely even higher due to the lack of testing and the fact that many Americans do not have health insurance, or are underinsured, which means they are less likely to get medical help when they need it. Some have even been denied service due to a lack of insurance, which is an everyday occurance in the U.S. Our broken healthcare system will cost more lives during this pandemic.

Despite what the political establishment tells us, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential runs made history by forcing the Democratic Party to address such issues as Medicare For All (M4A), or a single-payer healthcare system.

Bernie recently ended his presidential race because he was behind in the delegate count. Yet, historically speaking, a remarkably high number of Democratic voters chose Bernie, a candidate who spoke unapologetically about the need for a healthcare system that will cover all Americans and treat healthcare as a human right.

Democratic voters across the electorate who voted in presidential primaries around the country — from deep red Mississippi to independent New Hampshire, to here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — said in exit polls that healthcare was their number one issue. Even more encouraging, a majority said that they supported a “single payer system” which is Bernie’s signature program — beating out Biden’s plan by a significant margin.

However, slightly more voters still ended up choosing Biden over Bernie. Many reported the belief that Biden is more “electable” than Bernie against President Trump. In reality, there is little data supporting the claim that Biden would actually do better.  In fact, there’s a lot of data that shows that Bernie’s ability to turn out voters, and his role as a “change candidate,”  would have helped him do just as well or better in a general election — especially with low-income, young, minority, and disaffected voters. He also does better than Biden among independents in a general election matchup with Trump. All of these sets of voters are a far larger group than Biden’s alleged “moderate voters,” despite what the talking heads on TV have told us.

While Our Revolution was officially independent of the Sanders campaign, we remain inspired by the ideas Bernie has championed and look forward to working to promote these ideas and others outlined in our priorities, well beyond this election.

We have important work coming up to convince others that M4A is a viable option here in the Commonwealth, and that healthcare is a human right.  What if we knew of a more effective way to talk with, and even persuade, people who hold different positions on political issues?

Research by Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer suggests the following approach.
The name of the game: Understand the values underlying another’s morality and then reframe your argument to better suit those values. For example, underlying values for conservatives include purity, which is very related to this health scare. They would like to see a healthier, purer society — just like progressives.
The only way to achieve that purity is to ensure everyone has healthcare. This makes a M4A-type program more appealing to those who do not necessarily agree with the liberal underlying value of “fairness,” which is often used as an underlying value for M4A. Instead, it would be more effective to convince conservatives to support M4A through their held value of purity. Something to think about when discussing the current pandemic with those who might be opposed to a M4A-type plan.
Consider joining us in support of our long-term push for a Medicare for All at the state level. Stay tuned for updates during this health crisis. Please join us in our quest to create a more progressive and inclusive Massachusetts, with a future of economic justice for all!
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Make A Mask!

Photo of cloth personal protection masks
Handmade cloth personal protection masks.

We are all feeling rather helpless at this time. But one useful task we can do while sheltering in place is to make facemasks. Communications Committee Member Edith Griffin put together a set of directions for us. These masks do not prevent all virus particles from getting through and are not to be used by themselves by medical professionals on the front lines, but the CDC is now suggesting that everyone wear a mask in the presence of other people out in public, while shopping or doing other necessary interactions. For your homemade masks, a general rule of thumb to follow is: The higher the thread count, the better.
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Join us at ORMA’s next Monthly Virtual Meeting: RSVP here

Fighting for Progressive Policies

Photo of March 12th City Life/ Vida Urbana rally
Image of March 12th City Life/ Vida Urbana rally Copyright: © 2020 Marilyn Humphries
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Bill moving through MA legislature on evictions and foreclosures during COVID-19 crisis: Ask your rep to support HD.4935!

COVID-19 and the economic crisis are making it very difficult for people living on the edge to keep up with their rent. And this would be a dreadful time to get evicted.

State Representative Mike Connolly is joining with Rep. Kevin Honan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, to file legislation to halt evictions and foreclosures in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. This, if implemented, would protect public health and safety by keeping vulnerable residents sheltered; by reducing crowding within the courts and in shelters; and by helping to limit further disruptions and additional strain on our already-fractured social safety net. A bill reconciling both House and Senate versions of short-term protections is about to pass.

Check the list: Cosponsor or call your representative to make sure she/he supports H.D. 4935. Full text of the bill is here.

Our Revolution Massachusetts statement on COVID-19

The ORMA General Assembly that was planned for April 18 has been postponed due to the global pandemic. We don’t know when it will be safe to reschedule.

However, this pandemic underscores the importance of ORMA’s goals. ORMA members continue to be actively engaged in advocating for progressive legislation, progressive social action, and progressive candidates. As we all know, we as a people are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.

In times of global emergencies, the following policies and philosophies would be helpful:

  • Medicare for All
  • Universal childcare
  • Free school lunches
  • $200/yr prescription drug cost cap
  • Paid sick & family leave
  • Listening to and trusting the science community
  • Not bailing out corporations currently tanking in the markets

ORMA demands that our lawmakers order health insurers to waive deductibles and copayments associated with getting tested for COVID-19 if deemed necessary by a doctor.

Beyond that, we like the statement from the Democratic Socialists of America on COVID-19, excerpted below, and we support the measures proposed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including federal funding for free coronavirus testing for all and paid emergency leave.

“Finally, all social spending should be paid for by taxing the rich. The American working class has repeatedly bailed out the same massive corporations and billionaires that cause and exacerbate crises. The Trump administration’s proposed solution, a payroll tax cut, would not provide any relief for the working class and, in fact, would exacerbate the issue by providing an incentive to continue working, even if sick, particularly for those without remote work settings or paid sick leave, as well as endangering vulnerable populations by gutting funding to Social Security and Medicare.

Our current system is unequal, unjust, and careening towards disaster. We implore affiliates to review this COVID-19 Resources Guide for Organizers to form demands and identify resources that can inform our organizing in this crucial moment.”

Also, ORMA Affiliate Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) has created a website of helpful resources for those in the Western Mass region and beyond.
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Building a Progressive Party

ORMA members join Democratic State Committee via March 3rd elections!

While Bernie Sanders did not win our state outright, he did win delegates, and there were successes for progressives at the local level, including the election of Leslie Phillips, Kevin Costa, and nine other ORMA-endorsed candidates to the Democratic State Committee.

Photo of Kevin Costa
Kevin Costa ORMA member from the Fall River affiliate, who recently won his race to be included on the Democratic State Committee.
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Building power and influence in the Democratic Party: A long-term strategy

ORMA’s strategy includes working inside the Democratic Party to overcome the dominance of the corporate and neo-liberal forces that all too often support policies favoring the 1% and fail to meet the needs of the vast majority of the people, the workers, and the disenfranchised. Beginning in late 2019, ORMA’s Political and Civic Engagement committee (PACE), sought ways to identify and support candidates for election to the Democratic State Committee. Now, through our efforts, and working with allies in the party, we’ve been successful in electing at least 24 members to the state committee!

This doubles our presence in the party, and will have a long-term impact by enabling us to organize within the party on issues we know matter to ordinary people. We are in a position to push for making the Democratic Party an activist party. A party that is committed not only to voting for a progressive platform, but also is ready to take action to ensure that the platform is implemented by elected officials.

We encourage all ORMA members to become active in their local ward and town Democratic committees. Future party leaders emerge from these local committees. And, as more of us become part of that process, it becomes more likely that the state committee’s future leaders will share our views.
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This year, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the State Democratic Convention has been cancelled. But it is not too soon to start planning for next year when the party will once again review and modify the party platform. The PACE committee will continue to provide updates on our work at #DemTransform. If you have questions, or would like to be involved, please reach out to pace@ourrevolutionma.com.
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Building Progressive Powerhouses

Join us! Ways to get involved with ORMA

Interested in joining Our Revolution Massachusetts? Find a group near you on ORMA’s affiliate page! You can also volunteer for actions around the state and join the ORMA Facebook group to stay connected.

Affiliate meetings moved online:
Please check your email from your local affiliate for details.

ORMA affiliates are holding meetings online, checking in on each other, and staying in touch via online resources across our state. Please check your email for more details.
The following is a statement from Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) about COVID-19 and how they are dealing with the crisis. The statement was followed by a comprehensive list of local resources, and details on what local authorities are doing to respond. ORMA commends FCCPR for their work:
FCCPR Statement in brief: “The depth of the COVID-19 crisis and the rapidity of the changes that are occurring in all of our lives have left us all feeling a bit off balance and with more than a few questions. Here in Franklin County we are just beginning to have confirmed cases. We want to share with you some comments and ideas that will help keep have come across our desks in the last few days that we thought were valuable in keeping us focused on the key issues at hand.”
“We have set up a new resource page on the FCCPR website. This is intended to help people get through this crisis and to help organize for what will come in the future. If you have additional links that you think will be helpful, please send them to info@fccpr.us.”
BE IN OUR NEWSLETTER: Affiliates please submit your photos to the newsletter editors if you want your photos/stories of organizing to be featured in future newsletters.

ORMA Readers Corner

Here is our monthly book recommended by ORMA members!

Poor People’s Movements: How They Succeed, How They Fail – by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward.

This is a popular academic read about how social movements built around class succeed and fail across mid-20th century American history. At this pivotal moment for progressivism in the U.S. in terms of electoral success, or lack thereof, now might be a good time to dig into this classic on social movements.

Please send your reading recommendations to the ORMA newsletter volunteers.
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We want to hear from you!

* Note: submissions may be edited for content and space.

Uninspiring quote of the month: “Nancy Pelosi gets a version of it [M4A] through the House of Representatives. It comes to your desk. Do you veto it?” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell asked Biden during an interview Monday night. “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now,” Biden responded. “If they got that through in by some miracle or there’s an epiphany that occurred and some miracle occurred that said, ‘OK, it’s passed,’ then you got to look at the cost.” Quoted in this CNBC article.

Inspiring quote of the month: “The virus is teaching us that from now on, living wages, guaranteed health care for all, unemployment, and labor rights are not far left issues, but issues of right versus wrong and life versus death.” Reverend Dr. William Barber II @RevDrBarber

Our Revolution keeps us fighting for progressive issues beyond Bernie!

Sign holders in the leadup to the March 3 Massachusetts Presidential primary.
Sign holders in the leadup to the March 3 Massachusetts Presidential primary.

Not me, us! In many ways that slogan of Bernie’s campaign also captures why many of us are drawn to Our Revolution, both here in Massachusetts and around the country. We support a progressive vision which is not necessarily focused exclusively on Bernie, but on our larger collective, and the vision we would like to see enacted in government. Bernie has been instrumental in bringing ideas onto the national political scene which lay dormant for decades under neoliberal Democratic Presidential candidates such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. These ideas, namely addressing income inequality, that healthcare should be a human right, serious environmental reforms, taking money out of politics, making housing affordable, no tuition at public colleges, taking on Wall Street rather than bailing them out, all of which are aimed at improving the lives of working people who have been struggling in the American economy for far too long, have inspired many of us as much or more than Bernie as a candidate.
Rather than focus solely on transforming the Democratic Party through elections, especially the presidential elections, now is the time for Our Revolution national, our statewide coalition here in Massachusetts, and for your local affiliate, to keep fighting for our progressive ideas in multiple ways.
We hope you do not get too discouraged by the uphill battle Bernie faced for the nomination before dropping out, and instead turn your focus toward fighting for progressive ideas at your local, regional, state, and even national levels. ORMA is not giving up and nor should you. In the words of MLK “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” and our aim is to bend politics toward economic justice.
The ORMA Newsletter Team
Bern after reading!

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