Required stances, multi-tendency coexistence, avoiding neutrality

An organizing can have majority resolutions without compelling its whole membership to agree with these public statements.  This way, the party’s membership can exert a collective voice, while allowing those who disagree with a particular expression to disagree publicly, and without disciplinary retaliation.

After all, many issues in US politics rapidly emerge, and a socialist party would be remiss in not responding to them.  On the one hand, we need to tolerate multiple stances.  However, practiced incorrectly, this can cause the organization to be neutral on all issues, whereas there are obvious issues like universal healthcare which should not be divisive for socialists.

However, making a distinction between a party majority position, and a required position, is an important distinction.  Another important distinction is between a permanent position, and a resolution.  Resolutions are for the moment; positions can be forever until reversed.  Of course, resolutions aren’t necessarily meaningless; they represent the majority sentiment of an organization at that time, and can precede calls to action, whether carried out centrally, or by whoever sympathizes.  (Then again, resolutions can also be meaningless if not followed up.)

Frankly we should keep permanent and required positions to a minimum, because the more of those we have, the less truly multi-tendency we are.  The more hard positions we take, the more people respond to any disagreements they might have by saying, “well I guess I have to leave this group and look for another,” as opposed to saying “I don’t agree with this, but I agree with so much else, and if they really let me keep my opinion on this particular issue even while I disagree with theirs, I guess it makes sense to be a part of this.”

We can also have layers of issues, demands, and positions.

We can have our full list of positions.  This is for general reference, and can get somewhat detailed about the full variety of social issues.  (Many of these should probably be understood as majority positions, not required positions.)

Then there is the “stump speech” list.  A stump speech is a short speech a political candidate repeats as they travel from event to event.  It is the core content of their campaign which most of the people hear.  If the party has 100 positions, they cannot all go in this speech.  The numeric range might be from five to twenty (though the more you include, the briefer the mentions must be).  This list also might be the kind of thing that goes on a lengthier pamphlet in a campaign.

Then there is elevator speech list.  An “elevator speech” is when you have, say, twenty seconds or three breaths to give someone a summary of what you’re about.  (The phrase comes from how long you have to talk to someone in an elevator ride.)  This is critically important because in a world of competition over people’s attention spans, people tune you out within seconds, unless in those first few seconds your initial pitch catches their interest.  (The Left needs more marketing majors.)  This list should be from one to four issues long.

Though this gets into controversial territory, one way to address the tension over reform vs. systemic change is to include both mentions of immediate issues and larger, radical social changes in the stump speech list, and possibly even in the elevator speech list.

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