Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama's Grassroots Network

The Other Transition: Whither Obama's Movement?
By Micah L. Sifry, from Personal Democracy Forum
While most of the country's attention is focused on the transition underway in Washington, another vitally important transition is taking place right now in Chicago. I'm referring, of course, to the future of the Obama movement and network, or what some organizers refer to as "OFA2" (as in, Obama for America II). Thanks to reporting by Peter Wallsten in the Los Angeles Times, we know that "This weekend, hundreds of field staffers and some key volunteers are planning a marathon closed-door summit at a Chicago hotel to begin negotiating details of what the network might look like when Obama takes office in January. A group of field organizers from battleground states has been enlisted to draw up a plan."

What exactly is going on? The Obama people are saying very little. For a team that has been refreshingly open about the transition in Washington--not only posting an extensive list of transition staffers and donors but inviting public comments on top issues like health care and the economy, letting everyone see those comments and rate their value, beginning to engage in open dialogue via YouTube and mass conference calls and community discussions, posting the names of the outside groups lobbying the transition as well as the text of their position papers, asking for comments on same--the transition to OFA2, which seems to be de facto centered in Chicago, has been a totally top-down, one-way affair.

Yes, the Obama political team has been asking for input from its supporters about the future of OFA2. BarackObama.com features a big online "supporter survey" and the campaign (I guess that's what we still have to call it) has urged supporters to schedule local "Change is Coming" house parties for the weekend of December 13-14. "These meetings offer supporters a chance to reconnect with one another and talk about the issues that are most important to them," says Obama staffer Christopher Hass, "as well as an opportunity to discuss what they can do to support Barack's agenda and how they can continue to make an impact in their own communities....Your input, through the online surveys and through these upcoming house meetings, will help guide the future of this grassroots movement."

But what kind of guidance can isolated individuals and disconnected house parties give, other than vague affirmations of the need for "change" and their desire to pitch in?

Full article at the Personal Democracy Forum

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