Monday, March 7, 2011

Obama has Been Lacking at Community Organizing and Mobilizing His Base

During the 2008 Democratic primaries and the General Election campaigns, the Obama people told us that community organizing was of maximal importance and that their Administration would rely community organizing and mobilization principles just as much as it did during the campaign.

That hasn't happened.  Rather than rally the public and his campaign base in support of public option health care, Obama capitulated to the Republicans, the insurance industry and the Chamber of Commerce, without ever really trying to mobilize his troops.

Obama might have correctly calculated that even with the support of those who worked for his election, it would be impossible to pass insurance reform that offered an alternative to insurance companies.  I don't know what was going on in the Administration's calculus, but I know that the troops most interested in Public Option health care were never called back into the streets to canvass their neighbors about it.

When Obama and the Congress were debating whether to extend tax cuts for the rich as well as estate tax cuts for the rich, and then compensate for the lost income by gutting Government programs intended for the poor, such as home heating aid and programmed increases in pay for Federal workers, Obama never used his e-mail list to mobilize his supporters against those tax cuts, benefits cuts and salary cuts.

Instead, he has been supine, behaving as if only the Democrats in Congress could help him to fight tax cuts for the rich.  It does not seem ever to have occurred to him to contact his mailing list and ask for specific help, like money for an ad campaign against those tax cuts.

In fact, I have received far more e-mails from Color of Change over the last two years than I have received from the Obama Administration.  To judge by Obama's failure to even try to mobilize his base (probably resulting in the massive losses in Congress in the 2010 election), Obama only real reason for his organizing efforts is to assure his own reelection.  This is neither we were promised would be our role after the 2008 General Election nor is it a logical or legitimate way to maintain a well-oiled campaign operation.

America doesn't change for the better simply by putting better candidates in office.  America changes in response to social pressure and public insistence.  We on the Left have been cheated out of two years of Administration and associated-organization's community-organizing efforts.  They just want us for our votes in 2012.

It's worth noting, however, that the T-Party disagrees, perhaps only for the purposes of fundraising.   They said in an e-mail today,
We can't afford to lose this fight - and let Gov. Walker (Wisconsin) down.  Barack Obama's "Organizing for America" is putting everything they've got into their efforts to win this fight in Wisconsin [over whether state workers will be able allowed to can unionize  tonot, and we must respond by giving it everything we've got!

Maybe President Obama really is collaborating and organizing, at least in this case.

I regret to have to say so, but I still feel used.  In many ways, I feel disappointed, even as I recognize the victories of Obama in the Leadbetter case; in open gay participation in the military; in cutting out the middleman bankers from the student loan process . . .  Obama has not made efforts to enlist the public generally in actions to move his agenda forward.  He has engaged only discrete parts of the electorate to fight for discrete changes in Government behavior, like building upon the influence of gays and supporters to win gay participating in the military.

I hope that now that Obama is organizing for 2012, he will organize around specific issues rather than merely asking voters to show up on Election Day. 

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