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U2K Campaign Handbook

 What is the U2K Campaign?

The U2K Campaign is a call to make the need for universal, comprehensive, quality, affordable and publicly accountable health care a central part of the 2000 elections, and to use the 2000 elections to move America towards achieving universal health care.

The U2K Campaign aims to unify the efforts of all supporters of universal health care in the 2000 elections. A serious universal health care campaign needs the unity of the broadest spectrum of advocates.

A strong U2K Campaign will accomplish three vital objectives:

 ·     Increase the visibility of fundamental health care reform nationwide;

·     Strengthen local health care coalitions and create new linkages with organizations concerned about America’s health care crisis;

·     Help create an energized bloc of universal health care supporters in the next Congress.

The U2K Campaign seeks the participation of thousands of organizations across the nation whose members are involved in all facets of America's life - faith communities, labor, the health care community, patient advocacy groups, supporters of justice, and many others. To join the Campaign, an organization has only to endorse the U2K Campaign Statement and make a nominal tax-deductible contribution depending on organizational size.

The U2K Campaign is a grassroots organizational campaign. Its success will depend on the level of commitment and engagement of the organizations, and individuals within organizations, who join the campaign.

Activities of the U2K Campaign

Organizations that join the U2K Campaign will engage in three types of activities:

·     Education among your members on the problems of the health care system and the need for comprehensive and affordable universal health care.

·     Outreach to other organizations so they can add their voices to the U2K Campaign.

·     Engagement in the 2000 elections by working together with other U2K supporters to emphasize the need for quality universal health care to all candidates for public office and to voters.

The U2K Campaign Handbook: A Guidebook, Not a Rulebook

This handbook is intended to help organizations get the most out of their participation in the U2K Campaign and also make the biggest possible contribution to it. It contains ideas from past health care campaigns and other issue campaigns. It is not a rulebook, but a tool you can use. It is a work in progress that will grow as U2K participants learn from their experiences in this struggle for health care justice.

The First Step: Endorsement

Each organization has its own rules for endorsements and making financial contributions. In most cases, there has to be a presentation at a meeting of the organization or a committee. Here are some things to think about:

·         Who should give the presentation?

·         Is it better coming from a member or an outside speaker? The U2K Campaign staff can help you get an outside speaker from your area.

·         Are there key decision-makers you should talk to before the meeting?

·         Is it better to send out some materials first, or will they have more impact if you go over them at the meeting?

·         What are the big health issues for your organization?

The Second Step: Outreach and Education

To be successful, the U2K campaign has to be built broad, bringing it to more organizations, and it has to be built deep, bringing it to more members or constituents of endorsing organizations.

Things to think about to make U2K broad:

Who are the logical groups for your group to contact first? These are groups you already have a relationship with and can easily contact. Make a list, with contact people.

Another chapter of your organization? A neighboring congregation? A nearby local or your union? The organizations you worked with last year around Social Security, or the budget, or hurricane relief? 

Who are the groups who might already be receptive to U2K? Local chapters or branches of the national U2K endorsers are a good place to start. Local branches of doctors or nurses organizations that have taken a stand for universal health care are good as well. The U2K campaign staff can get you a list.

Building U2K broad means reaching out beyond the usual suspects. Many of the reasons for bringing U2K into your organization make sense for outreach.

Things to think about to make U2K deep:

§    How does your group do member education? Is there a committee, or part of the meeting or service set aside for presentations? Does the group use outside speakers? How much time is allotted for the presentation?

§    How much does the group already know? Is it a health care coalition that has worked together for years or a church congregation taking up health care for the first time in a long while?

§    What are the main concerns of the group around health care? Access? Quality? Cost?

§    What stage of the process are you in? Ready for endorsement or first time hearing about U2K?

Education is a process, not an event. One lesson from past campaigns: education doesn't take place all at once. It is an over and over process. If we believe the need for universal comprehensive quality care has to be a key part of the 2000 elections, we have to talk about it again and again.

The Third Step: Engagement

Think Nationally, Act Locally and Organizationally

The U2K Campaign aims to change the national political landscape around fundamental health care reform during the 2000 election season. The 2000 elections are a big nationwide phenomenon. They will dominate the airwaves and the press; they will become the big topic of public discussion. But the multi-million dollar TV commercial style election process is not the best way to raise fundamental health care issues.

The U2K Campaign approach is to force candidates on the local level to deal with the need for universal affordable comprehensive care because people in the district are organized and demanding it.

The strength of the U2K Campaign is the thousands of local groups who embrace it. It builds on the organizations that people already relate to: local coalitions around health issues; local congregations; senior citizen centers or clubs; local medical societies and nurses associations; social action groups; labor unions; student or parent associations, etc. The U2K Campaign helps coordinate efforts around a common message, and occasionally around a common activity. This way, each local effort is part of a national campaign.

Many issue campaigns in electoral years are targeted in only a few key districts. The U2K Campaign is different. It will develop strategies for safe seats held by supporters of universal health care, for contested seats, for safe seats held by opponents of universal health care. By raising the issue in every locality, we can influence the national debate. By raising it through the existing organizations of American society, we will not be ignored.

Things to think about as you plan engagement:

§    Gather the local U2K Campaign organizational endorsers together.

§    Set meetings at a time and place that is accessible and convenient. Establish common goals of the local campaign. Establish a steering committee.

§    Determine who is responsible for making local strategic decisions. Who is responsible for communicating with the national campaign? What subcommittees are needed and who monitors them?

§    Reach out to the media. Compile a list of local reporters. Develop local talking points. Track local/national coverage. Set up editorial board meetings with local papers, letters to the editor campaigns, talk show call-ins.

§    Plan a local kick-off event.

§    Engage with the candidates. Track their statements and activities. Meet with them. Plan a candidate forum on health care. Hold accountability sessions. Insert questions into debates and town meetings.

Perspectives on the U2K Campaign

Think Long Term, Act Now

Universal, comprehensive, quality affordable and publicly accountable health care has always been worth fighting for. The U2K Campaign is based on an understanding that the struggle has already been a long one, and we have to plan for several more years. Many U2K supporters are veterans of the efforts in the early 90s for health care reform. Other started decades before, around Medicare or even around the birth of Social Security.

The U2K Campaign does not try to predict when we will win. We do try to ask what is the best thing we can do today that will get us closer to victory tomorrow.

Today we can influence the 2000 political debate, strengthen local organizations and the ties among them, and start getting a serious universal health care bloc in the next Congress. Tomorrow, these stronger local organizations will work with the new universal health care caucus in Congress to develop a legislative strategy for universal health care. So it is very important to build ties and organizations that will be around tomorrow. U2K is not a one shot approach.


One of the biggest mistakes in past health care fights was a "with us or against us" style of working with other groups. Instead of growing and unifying, we often split and divided. Instead of creating enduring relationships among groups, we often found ourselves with enmity and recriminations. U2K has to be different. The big first question is not “are you with us?” It is, how are you and your members affected by the American health care crisis? Most organizations and most folks are sort of with us, but in their own way, and a little unsure. The U2K Campaign is not an army marching in lock step. It is organizations sometimes working closely together, and sometimes working more by themselves. All U2K supporters have their own culture and comfort level. A group that has questions about financing mechanisms, or choice of physicians, or the role their union health plan will play in the future has not abandoned the cause. The U2K campaign believes that unity has to be built for the long term by find the best ways to work together today.

The challenge every U2K supporter faces is how to get the widest grouping into the struggle for universal comprehensive affordable care. We think joining the U2K Campaign is a good thing to do. A group that is not ready to join, but is willing to educate its members is a friend, not a foe. A group that has a slightly different wording about universal health care is an ally, not a rival.

There will be plenty of issues for all of us to argue about as we wrestle with the details of the future of health care. U2K strongly believes that 2000 is not the year to waste our resources and time arguing among ourselves.

Ten Reasons Participating in the U2K Campaign Will Help your Organization

1. Every one of your members is concerned about the health care system and how it is going to affect them and their families. U2K shows your members you are concerned and doing something about it.

2. The U2K Campaign gives you a way to bring in new members and help current members become more active.

3. The U2K Campaign will be a good way to develop new leaders. There is more than enough work to go around.

4. You can use the U2K Campaign to strengthen your organization's ability to communicate with members. U2K education materials can supplement your own.

5. The U2K Campaign links your organization with other local organizations and coalitions to magnify the impact of your efforts. It is a unifying campaign.

6. The U2K Campaign will give your organization increased media exposure.

7. The U2K Campaign will increase the political influence of your organization. Candidates and voters will see that your organization is one that has to be reckoned with.

8. The U2K Campaign provides you with allies for your current, and future, struggles. Ongoing relationships with other groups are a valuable resource for any organization. The U2K Campaign builds them.

9. The U2K Campaign helps you counter political cynicism in your ranks. Special interests may try to buy the political system and pollute the public discourse, the U2K uses the power of organized people to make a difference.

10. U2K is the right thing to do, so your organization will feel good about itself.


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