Organizing for America, the arm of the Democratic National Committee has become the full-time political and policy advocacy campaign for the Obama Administration according to a report released by TechPresident’s Ari Melber. Having taken control of the 13 million email addresses acquired through willful engagement in his president campaign, OFA has become the “behind-the-scenes” grassroots voice of the White House. This experiment in grassroots organizing by an Administration enters into a new realm of presidential politics…the jury is still out as to whether or not this is effective or even worth the effort.
“Governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign.” – Patrick Caddell, pollster for President Jimmy Carter and Democratic strategist.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt employed breaking technology, the radio, to convey his message to Americans. By the mid 1950s, half of American households featured a television enabling politics in to the home. In the 1990s, the internet started growing, thanks to Al Gore, and Americans engaged themselves in the digital medium. Now days, we have internet + cell phones + social networks + real-time lifestyles = ALWAYS CONNECTED.
A common theme was the attempt to engage the electorate. It was commonplace for individuals to campaign and lobby their elected officials, but the effort most commonly happened on the local level. As technology progressed, the form of engagement progressed, but now days; this effort is in real time. The Obama White House is utilizing “its technology” like never before to “organize the citizenry With staffed offices established in every state and a talented crew assembled in its headquarters in Washington D.C., the comparisons to other grassroots experiments shows that OFA the most expansive and well-connected form of organizing we have ever seen.
With such an expansive effort of coordination between the White House and the DNC, one must inquire as to whether or not this merely a façade for executing a 4-year reelection campaign. Again, Caddell clearly states that governing with public approval, what is needed to win reelection, requires a continual political campaign.
Is OFA merely the reelection campaign of Barack Obama? I say yes…look at the other side of the coin.
The Tea Party, I contend a grassroots voice for the right, yet its actions, mainly protests, have been decried by Congress and the Democrats and President Obama has even labeled them “Tea Baggers.” Actually, the Tea Party is more grassroots oriented considering its funding is not attached to one of the major parties. Why the blatant double standard in characterization from the majority in Congress? I have my suspicions, but I willfully digress in order to let you devise your own analysis.
In conclusion, I deem the efforts of OFA as noble in its attempt to engage the general electorate in the policy debate, but I think the Administration is playing the most dangerous of political games in striking a divisive tone against the Tea Party, a grassroots organization as well. If the White House and the DNC continue to fund their national effort under the guise of OFA, then they must accept and positively engage the Tea Party followers to a fact-based policy discussion instead of merely discrediting their efforts. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration is able to maintain this support in order to re-activate the base in its most vulnerable time – the 2012 President Election.
Do you think the castigation of the Tea Party by the White House and Congressional Democrats is hypocritical considering the immense resources and coordination with OFA?
By now, we have all heard of the Tea Party movement. I like to believe the Tea Party movement is an assortment of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents with one binding mentality– the government no longer represents them or their interest.
President Abraham Lincoln once proclaimed, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
The peaceful gatherings and raising of voices this summer helped slow down the health care reform process. This collection of in-tune political participants became a force to be reckon with, but the question is – how much of a force?
Politico ran an article this weekend titled, “Tea party candidates falling short.” The underlying question posed in the article was “can an organic and fledgling movement that lacks the institutional grounding and top down organizational strength of either major political party transfer protest-oriented grass-roots energy into tangible success at the polls.”
Outside of the snarky tone of the post by Alex Isenstadt, I think Alex misses the accomplishments of the Tea Party thus far. They are simply raising the bar of discourse in this country. They are challenging Republicans to re-discover their conservative roots or face a tough primary. They are forcing transparency and openness in a federal government controlled by one party. They are making politicians answer their questions; otherwise face a potential public relations snafu.
Although, the Tea Party might not have electoral success this year – given the two-party system, they are steps ahead any other recent third party movement in this country. Just think about how many times Ralph Nader has been on the ballot.
As this contentious 2010 election cycle moves forward, it will be very interesting to see the impact made by the Tea Party.
What sort of impact do you see the Tea Party having in 2010?
What might we learn from the Texas March 2, Primary for Governor
My typical morning routine is waking up and driving my boys to school. During that 20 minute roundtrip, we are tuned into our local NPR station WFSU 88.9 where I get an idea of what's ahead for the day in news for the nation, state and of course locally. The morning national news on Wednesday, February 23, was regarding the upcoming March 2 Republican Primary for Governor pitting sitting Gov. Rick Perry against US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Tea Party Activist Debra Medina. The topic is two-fold, how do two entrenched politicians say that they are the "outsiders" and what impact do the "Tea Partiers" bring into the mix?
The latest Rasmussen polling of likely Republican primary voters finds Perry leading Hutchinson 48% to 27%, and Medina earning 16% of the vote. Nine percent (9%) of Texas GOP voters remain undecided. What's most interesting about the dynamics of this race is that Perry and Hutchinson have the most baggage to carry since they are currently elected and seen as part of the problem. The negative attacks, as one would expect, are already in full throttle between Perry and Hutchinson. And when they're not attacking one another, their message is what they have done "for and about" Texas, even if meant supporting or voting for populist issues but not necessarily of Republican values and principles. Which begs the question, will those attacks soften Perry and Hutchison leaners and undecides to swing to Medina? If that is to happen, and as the pundits have suggested, that boost would send Medina into a run-off against Perry, therefore setting up a run-off that will invite more questions into defining what type of candidate Republicans will support.
The other curiosity of this race is what will be the impact of the Tea Partiers? Today, Tea Party activists are generally made up of conservative Republicans and Independents (Independents are not necessarily the party itself but would include Non Affiliated Voters), but those not registered as Republicans will not be voting in the Primary. These activists tend to trend against the incumbent of their own party and for to the outsider. Medina has fit herself comfortably in that role.
By this evening, March 2nd, voters will either see a trend of supporting real outsider candidates or more of the same. Time will tell, but would you be willing to support the outsider?
Poll after poll, talk shows and political pundits are focusing in on the growing unhappiness of the American public with their leaders. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released yesterday indicates 38% of people would consider voting for a third party candidate for president under any circumstances. 64% were in favor of having a third political party run candidates for President, Congress and state offices. Can a third party candidate win the presidency? Will there be a Tea Party presidential candidate? While there may be a hunger amongst the public for alternatives to the two major parties the chances are slim.
Any third party candidate needs to overcome the built in advantages both parties have in getting on the ballot. Third party candidates need to incur the expense of gathering thousands and in some states tens of thousands of signatures many months in advance to get on the ballot. The two main party candidates don’t have to collect any signatures to be on the ballot in November.
What’s more likely to occur in 2012 is third party candidates getting on the ballot in select states and perhaps deciding the election. Remember what happened in Florida in 2000, an election George Bush won by less than a 1,000 votes, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida, far more than the combined 40,000 votes of the other third party candidates in Florida. In 1992, Ross Perot received 19% of the vote nationwide, in some states that number was 25-30%.
While there is clearly dissatisfaction today with Washington and incumbents from both political parties, translating that anger into viable third party campaign in 2012 is very remote. Given our current political system, the only chance a third party candidate could win the presidential election in 2012 or in the near future is if they can self finance and even then, they would need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to overcome the built in advantages enjoyed by the two main parties.