Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grassroots Direction

"But in its first big test, the group dubbed Organizing for America (OFA) had little obvious impact on the debate over President Obama's budget...The capstone of the campaign was the delivery of 214,000 signatures...,which swayed few, if any, members of Congress..."

Dan Eggen, "Obama's Machine Sputters in Effort to Push Budget: Grass-Roots Campaign Has Little Effect." The Washington Post, April 6, 2009.

The last thing we want is for the grassroots movement that elected President Obama to become a lapdog for the DNC. What a horrible fate to be shuffled on and off stage whenever "mandate" symbolism is needed. On the other hand, Obama's electronic town hall was intriguing.

Maybe I missed Mitch Stewart's compelling grassroots pitch but the federal budget is too big and too complicated to rivet the support of activists mired in local economic woes who might also question more big spending as the answer. I would have broken the budget down into key pieces and asked grassroots activists to develop local, longer-term campaigns in support key ideas relevant to their constituencies and communities.

Keeping grassroots electoral energy alive is challenging and full of pitfalls. Few elected officials have been successful at doing this in part because they typically refuse to separate the trajectory of their governing agenda from the triggers and supports for grassroots activism.

Keeping it local renews and builds the base. See what bubbles up.

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