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November 25, 2012

Organizing for Whom?

Given the first line of the excerpted passage below, it's tempting to ask, "Why not just change the name to "Organizing for Obama" and be done with it?

Obama’s vaunted campaign machine, “OFA”—short for “Obama for America” during election season, and “Organizing for America” when the president is trying to pass his agenda—made a point of staying active after his victory, sending supporters an email Wednesday detailing the president’s plan to avert the fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases at the end of the year.

The question is if this time OFA will convert its success on the trail—where the operation got 4.4 million donors to contribute $690 million—to the slog of governing. Campaign manager Jim Messina suggested this week that the machinery will be kept engaged, but hedged when asked just how robust its role will be in the coming fights in Washington.

Even as Democratic politicians and operatives also lobby for access to his huge database of donors, voters, and volunteers for future campaigns, critics on the left are still embittered about how supporters were cut out and grassroots momentum lost during Obama’s first term. They point to the president’s backing away from a cap-and-trade system to control pollution, his decision not to break up big banks or enact “cramdown” measures to reduce the principal owed on mortgages by millions of struggling borrowers and what they see as a host of lost opportunities in Obama’s first two years, when Democrats controlled all branches of government.

“Deactivating OFA was just one small part of an overall policy disaster,” says Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and former financial services staffer to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). “Obama wanted to run a conservative technocratic administration on behalf of Wall Street, and he did. And inequality is now at record highs, higher than it was under [George W.] Bush. In terms of superficial notions like electoral politics, it was successful for Obama. In terms of mouths fed, poverty alleviated, and justice, it has been horrific.”

Sounds like a "works as designed" to me. Or maybe just bait and switch.

Posted by Cassandra at November 25, 2012 09:23 PM

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Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and former financial services staffer to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)

Maybe it's just that Obama wanted everyone to pay early, and then die.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at November 25, 2012 10:37 PM

Another interpretation is that all that grassrooty community organizing stuff comes in handy when you need to raise money or generate phone calls to pressure Congresscritters.

Being on the receiving end of grassroots activism or allowing them to influence decisions made in Washington on the other hand...

Posted by: Cassandra at November 26, 2012 12:58 PM