[R-G] Organizers In -- And Beyond -- the Obama Campaign
hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Sat Oct 18 10:08:32 MDT 2008
The faithful Portside -- the left-focused and non-sectarian Net media outlet -- posted yesterday an interesting piece, "The New Organizers: What's Really Behind Obama's Ground Game." See Portside at http://www.portside.org/
Essentially it's a paean of praise for the -- admittedly quite impressive -- networking structure built by the Obama campaign with its balance of paid field organizers and grassroots volunteers. A number of obviously worthy individuals and their observations and reflections are given due space in the piece.
All well and good -- but I have some obvious questions and a few additional thoughts:
The Obama campaign is super heavily funded -- almost beyond one's comprehension. And it's operating as a reform crusade in a nation facing one of the gravest economic/political/social crises in its history. It has almost unprecedented widespread and "respectable" backing from the American political and economic mainstream.
And Barack Obama himself is -- in sharp contrast to his adversaries -- a singularly attractive individual with the gift of true oratory.
But no organizing campaign -- at least none in the world of bona fide social justice-seeking -- has ever had anything even remotely close to a modest fraction of the spending funds of the Obama campaign -- nor its broad and respectable stratospheric backing. Most grassroots organizing, always heavily dependent on altruistic and courageous volunteers, with hopefully some professional organizers, is a low-budget affair -- "nickels and dimes." The salaries of the professional organizers -- true and committed -- are consistently modest. Social justice campaigns are, far more often than not, opposed vigorously -- even virulently -- by the respectables. [After all, the justice campaigns are out to take power from the top and return it to the local folk.]
And, while some of the people involved at all levels in the fights for justice are genuinely charismatic, most fall short of that -- like "me and thee."
And all of those in conventional organizing campaigns have to scrabble hard for even a modicum of decent media coverage.
An obvious and fast on-coming question is, "What will happen when Obama [and the Democrats] win?"
Will this vast grassroots network -- founded, frankly, as an electoral empire -- survive in at least good measure over the longer pull? And, if so, will it do good works: e.g., force, via enduring grassroots pressure, all of the Democrats [and others] to carry out their vast myriad of good promises -- and, conversely, block the bad ones [e.g., expanding the obviously highly questionable and clearly unwinnable Afghanistan War]?
Will the high idealism that shines in the faces of the millions of Obama supporters and emanates in a great glow from the ever-larger crowds be able to transcend the limitations of Obama and the Democrats -- and go further, and ever further, into building an enduring trail toward the Big Rock Candy Mountain?
Last winter I wrote this -- voicing, I'm sure, that which a great many of us on the general Left were -- and are -- thinking:
"Long after this campaign has run its course -- for relative "better" or worse -- the fact remains that for the first time in decades vast numbers of younger people -- and many oldsters as well -- will have been sparked and stoked into good fire. Some will fade away -- but a great many will remain in an least some sort of activist mode. If what constitutes an "American Left" ignores this, it runs the great risk of a retreat into meaningless monasticism. People have to make their own decisions -- e.g., Obama or "third party" or otherwise -- but don't ignore or attack the tremendous phenomenon presently underway, and building." -- A FEW THOUGHTS ON AN EARLY SNAKE RIVER COUNTRY MORNING [HUNTER BEAR - FEBRUARY 3 2008]
The true social justice organizer -- whether professional or volunteer -- is always a Long Distance Runner.
Even if their dinero is always slim.
Just a few thoughts on a rather cool October morn in the Snake River country.
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
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