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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Convergence brings “Left strategy for the MAGA era”

Updated: 6 days ago

Welcome to Team Tuesday!


Convergence, “a magazine for radical insights,” is poised to play an important role in furthering the alignment of progressive groups around a growth strategy. They already host valuable content which sparks conversations around strategic issues.  Now they’ve put up “Block & Build,”  what they call a “syllabus” to create greater alignment around their “Left strategy for the MAGA era.”


Personally I wish they’d say what they’re for FIRST, as in “Build and Block.” That being said, they have a solid take on a general strategy for the left, which I endorse. 


It aims to block MAGA’s bid for power in 2024, and while doing so, build enough independent progressive clout to start the country down the road to a robust multiracial, gender-inclusive democracy and an economy that works for all on an environmentally sustainable planet. 

The syllabus makes clear that engaging in elections is not optional, and we need to engage with both mainstream Democrats and Republicans to build a broad front. Very important and needed.


Who It’s For, How It Might Be Used


It’s not clear to me who the target audience for the syllabus is.  In their Zoom meeting to introduce the syllabus, someone said that the syllabus had helped Convergence itself find “greater internal alignment.”  It seems to me it could be used within a college class or labor union worker education scenario.  Used within a movement organization or coalition of organizations, it could help structure discussions about their own strategy in a useful way. It could fuel “generative conflict” by surfacing points of contention and finding ways to resolve them.


More On The Syllabus


Convergence says “Discussion groups and classes based on this syllabus would ideally hold seven 90-minute sessions. Each session is focused on a major component of the Block and Build strategy, with three to four key points identified ahead of time. Each session will include some discussion of how this approach differs from some other views on the Left. There are

readings for each section. A set of sample discussion questions for each session accompanies this syllabus.”

Seven sessions, perhaps weekly, is a big commitment. I'm not saying it wouldn't be worth it. As a fan of strategy, I think it would be. But for the general population on the left - certainly for managers - I think it needs to be sold. Hopefully over time, there will be success stories that will encourage people to make the commitment.


Including the readings is important, to help get everyone on a similar plane knowledge-wise. This matters, especially if your group is intergenerational.  As a onetime trainer, I have often found that it’s hard to get people to do reading ahead of time, though. You would have to use social pressure, perhaps, to get it done. To me, the discussion questions are the core of what might make the syllabus most useful. 


Here’s the questions around the relationship with the Democratic Party, to give you a flavor of the document.


1. What is the balance of forces between the MAGA and anti-MAGA blocs in the US today? If it is a “stalemate” as the syllabus argues, what will it take to break that stalemate in the direction of the anti-MAGA coalition?


2. What do you see as the balance of strength between the progressive and mainstream wings of the Democratic Party? What will it take to shift that balance and increase the clout of the progressive wing?


3. Is it true that voting for Democrats against Republicans is a necessary (but not sufficient) component of a strategy to keep MAGA out of power in today’s conditions? What light does the experience of radicals in earlier struggle-filled periods of US history (build up to the Civil War, the 1930s, the 1950s-1960s) shed on this question?

These are all CRITICAL questions which every organization must answer for itself. You can't be re-litigating the answers every time there's a conflict. What is the organization and what isn't it?


Strategy to Address Local Recruiting Capacity?


In the introductory Zoom, Convergence introduced a representative from Seed The Vote.  This group is focused on winning six swing states this fall, by recruiting volunteers and (apparently) raising money to send them to campaign with local organizations in these states.  They named a number of well-known and less-well-known partner organizations, who it seems will manage the volunteers on the ground.  They felt this was a way to help build these organizations for a longer term, instead of “parachuting” in and out. Certainly this is a time when extra hands will matter.


I’m glad Seed the Vote is down with the syllabus strategy.  However, they ARE parachuting.  I suppose they might randomly find volunteers in the six states, but they don’t actively recruit there as far as I can see.  They’re NOT helping recruit people who LIVE in these states and might remain involved AFTER the election.


Most left organizations that I'm familiar with could use help learning how to prioritize welcoming new members and volunteers. The right is much better at this. In my experience, this is definitely the case in the swing state where I live. It may not be Convergence's or Seed the Vote's responsibility to help. But local organizations would be better served long-term by learning why welcoming new people is important and how to do it, than by receiving temporary personnel from the outside.


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