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April 06, 2012

Organizing for America


Much has been said about how from the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he mobilized more of a “movement” than a traditional political campaign. But a movement it has not proved to be — and one major reason has been the way Obama and his team have used his supporters since winning the presidency. Instead of encouraging Obama backers to get engaged in community initiatives, this remarkable network of citizens was essentially viewed as a lobbying arm to get top-down legislation moving inside the Beltway. OFA was not so much organizing for America as for the Obama administration. They are not the same.

...Early in 2009, when OFA asked those on its mailing list what it should be doing in their communities, I wrote back and emphasized that each group of community organizers should determine what needed fixing where they worked and lived and that the energy of the 2008 Obama campaign needed grass-roots nourishment by establishing initiatives that addressed local problems. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that OFA prioritized such bottom-up work. In fact, OFA reported in a follow-up e-mail to the group that the great majority of those on its mailing list agreed that “helping the President pass legislation through grass-roots efforts should be a top goal for OFA.” OFA did acknowledge, however, that more than 60 percent of those initial respondents said “local issues” should also be on OFA’s agenda. But going forward, local issues didn’t get much OFA attention.

Instead, OFA sent a drumbeat of e-mails urging people to support whatever initiative the Obama administration needed help with inside the Beltway. In 2010, people were asked to visit their U.S. senator’s office to bring attention to pending health-care legislation. They were asked to tell a personal story and drop off a flier customized by OFA. In conjunction with legislation that would create the consumer protection agency, David Plouffe, Obama’s political captain, asked voters to download OFA’s “Benefits of Wall Street Reform” statement and hand it out at coffee shops, grocery stores or door to door. While ordinary citizens were used to help the administration, community initiatives not tied to the national agenda got short shrift. No longer were we “the change we seek.” Citizens came to be viewed more as the numbers, and dollars, that the administration needed. Supporters were asked to buy T-shirts from OFA online or to donate $3 for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas and be at the president’s side at a campaign rally. One appeal simply pleaded, “We need to raise $300,000 by Thursday.”

This may be the cynic in me, but this strikes me as more of a "works as designed" than a bug.

And then there's this:

... yesterday, though, someone — the president or his campaign people — got tired. Someone just didn’t have the energy or imagination to create yet another reason to justify demanding $3 from Americans buffeted by rising fuel prices, a contracting labor market, astroturfed racial strife, hot mic revelations about backdoor deals with Russians, etc. So someone decided to cut to the chase. The heck with justifications, excuses, and heart-rending stories. Just give Obama the money, dammit!
Friend –

The last time I sent you a note like this, we were closing out 2011.

Today’s our first big political test of 2012.

If you can, please donate $3 or more before midnight tonight:


Thank you.


Too bad we can't just give him money to go away.

Posted by Cassandra at April 6, 2012 03:43 AM

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If it'll help him pass his big test, I'm sure that I can come up with three dollars... somewhere.

Posted by: spd rdr at April 6, 2012 12:35 PM

Well, maybe it's just a few bucks for Barack and Michelle to get out for quiet movie together, an arugula salad, some braised lobster tails, a cruise somewhere on Air Force One......

Yeah, that's a lot of three dollar contributions there. But he's a special guy, afterall.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 6, 2012 01:16 PM

He doesn't need our three bucks. He has his very own money making machine.

An excerpt from the ruling:

These public servants sought to earn credit with their agency by collecting money. Some of it is returned to the agency—like justices of the peace whose pay is derived directly from the fines they impose.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 6, 2012 03:03 PM

I'm going to use spd's funny money :p

Holy moly, Eric. I am going to have to digest that one. My poor brain is so fried.

Happy Friday, gentlemen!

Posted by: Cassandra at April 6, 2012 03:14 PM

I'll chip in three shares of SOLY and one promissory Drill Here, Drill Someday... Maybe... permit signed by Dept. of Interior Czar K.L. Salazar

Posted by: Sheik Djibouti at April 6, 2012 03:53 PM

Uhhh, tell you what; I'll give money to BHO's opponents to help him go away!
(Ron Paul 2012?)

Posted by: Jim at April 6, 2012 03:59 PM