Building A Grassroots Army

Here in California, beginning as early as March, I saw how the Obama campaign was trying to run California differently than it had ever been before, following a grassroots organization model that sought to mobilize activists on the ground as part of a state-wide web of mini Obama organizations. Ultimately it didn't win him the state but it showed me that Obama was practicing what he was preaching; that his talk of change coming from the bottom up wasn't 'just words,' as it were. What's great about the organization he created is that it will be there ready to go in November for whomever wins the nomination, but Obama's commitment to creating a grassroots army goes well beyond electoral politics.

Ben Smith had a good find from Barack Obama's website:

Introducing the Obama Organizing Fellows

This summer we are looking for students or recent graduates who want to be a part of a new generation of leadership that believes, like Senator Obama, that real change comes from the ground up.

Fellows will be trained on the basics of organizing & campaign fundamentals and then placed in a community to carryout grassroots activities. Program participation will start on June 5 through the end of the summer. Fellows will be asked to commit to a minimum of 30 hours per week.

This is the sort of thing every Democrat should be celebrating as it's the key to building a progressive majority.

Tags: Barack Obama, grassroots army (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

Re: Building A Grassroots Army

WOW, an amazing idea! MANY students will line up for this after Finals.

by FOB92 2008-04-02 02:52PM | 0 recs
by dearreader 2008-04-03 04:08AM | 0 recs
NJ Hillary supers leaning towards Obama

http://www.wnbc.com/politics/15755464/de tail.html

excerpt

TRENTON, N.J. -- Some of the superdelegates from New Jersey who have said they will support Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton now suggest they could end up supporting Sen. Barack Obama.

The lawmakers suggested they might be willing to change Monday at an event in which New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg announced his intention to run for another term in the U.S. Senate.

Among those superdelegates in attendance were Rep. Donald Payne, Rep. Steve Rothman and Rep. Rush Holt. Payne supports Clinton, Rothman supports Obama, and Holt is uncommitted.

With Clinton trailing in both the national vote and delegate counts, Obama is pushing to get more superdelegates, including Democratic National Committee member June Fischer, who was wearing a "Supers for Hillary" button Monday.

Gov. Jon Corzine, another superdelegate who has strongly supported Clinton, also said those factors were the most significant -- suggesting he could switch sides after the end of the primary season.

"The ones that are the most important, in my view, are the popular vote and delegate count," Corzine said.

Another Clinton superdelegate, New Jersey Democratic Party Chair Joe Cryan, said he could see himself switching to Obama.

by dearreader 2008-04-03 04:14AM | 0 recs
Whoever wins the nomination

And quite apart from the sports league of which candidate is up or down, this is a wonderful innovation, and can only fill progressives like myself, from across the sea, with respect and wonder. Thank you, America, for showing how politics can be reinvented and re-inspired

by brit 2008-04-02 02:53PM | 0 recs
Interesting

I didn't read the details of this plan, but I wonder if he can afford the onslaught of college students that will want this 'job' after Finals get out.

It will help the party.

by Veteran75 2008-04-02 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

I agree that Barack's campaign has given validity to many of the ideas that Dean experimented with.  I think that is a positive accomplishment on his part, regardless of the outcome of the primary or the election.

by bobbank 2008-04-02 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Isn't this kind of thing the exact opposite of what "grassroots" means?

by DaveOinSF 2008-04-02 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

  No.

by cilerder86 2008-04-02 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

No.  Tammany Hall is the exact opposite of what "grassroots" means.  

by LarsThorwald 2008-04-02 03:19PM | 0 recs
Here's the thing

I was working on the Obama campaign in Iowa, Nevada, and California, and if the Obama Fellows program is anything like those campaigns, then there's no chance in hell that the time commitment will be as low as 30 hours per week.

Expect something around 60.  

Which is, you know, cool... but still.  Stressful!

by Pelerin 2008-04-02 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's the thing

hey, can you go into a little bit of detail about what one of these Fellows would do? I'm interested in it and am really curious about what it entails. Thanks.

by Mr Sifter 2008-04-02 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's the thing

It says details will be released on the 5th (Saturday)

by recusancy 2008-04-02 08:31PM | 0 recs
"good find"

It's been a big front page graphic for days.

by John DE 2008-04-02 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

This is such a great idea for Democrats.  Hopefully programs like this will exist long after the 2008 election, as this sounds incredibly promising for building a Democratic infrastructure nationwide.

by thatpurplestuff 2008-04-02 03:29PM | 0 recs
I agree completely

and compliment Sen. Obama on this approach.

And I am supporting Sen. Clinton.

by Radiowalla 2008-04-02 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

I wish I was a student again so that I could do something like this.

by rfahey22 2008-04-02 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army
You don't have to be a student to do this.
And that goes for Clinton supporters too!
by stefystef 2008-04-02 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Well...let's just say that it would be very difficult for me to free up 30 hours/week with my present job.

by rfahey22 2008-04-02 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Smart approach.
I notice Hillary is reaching out more to the HillBlazers, Young Adults for Hillary, too.
http://hillblazers.com/
Spring Break in PA!  Whoo hoo!

The grassroots approach seems to be working this year for the Dems.  I wonder if the Repubs can pull the same with McCain.  I don't think so.

by stefystef 2008-04-02 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

McGovern was assassinated by the party establishment. This time the establishment is tired of The Clintons and ready to be overthrown.

by Kobi 2008-04-02 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

This type of thing and our side's superior use of the internet for organizing and fundraising is all very exciting.  The fact that it's coming along at this point in american history when Boosh and the other keystone cops and crooks on the GOP side have screwed their brand makes me hopeful that we can build something important and lasting.  Something way beyond the years and careers of either of these candidates.  

The public is ready for us.  The techniques work.  We have a  presence in all 50 states (at least some parts of this longs assed nomination contest are good).  The base is pissed and active.  The internet has injected ... well what the internet does to enable grassroots organizing, activism, and education is so cool I can't even sum it up here.

The point is let's do it folks.  This is the closest circumstance ever comes to flat out begging a people to take an opportunity.  We need to sing cumbaya or some shit.  My kids (20 months and 32 months) will not give a damn when they're our age which of these candidates gets the nomination.  

They will care about whether you and I seized this chance to take our country back together.  They'll care about whether we have handed the back to them the civil liberties that the last 7 years have seen destroyed.  They'll care if we give them an economy and an education and a tax structure that allow an american to have a good life regardless of whether they were born to rich parents.  They'll care about whether it is safe for an american to travel abroad or will our standing in the world be completely destroyed by then?  Will the planet's ability to support human life have to be a factor in my children's decision whether or not to give me grandchildren?  This opportunity to come together and affect real change for decades and decades is far bigger than the effects of this nomination race.

Whatever we need to do, please, let's do it.  Let's recognize that we democrats may not always agree on whom we want in office or in what order we should prioritize our agenda, but in general WE DO WANT THE SAME THINGS.  Clearly we're learning how to do it, and we're enabled by technology.  Let's all hug or something.

by lockewasright 2008-04-02 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

can someone please explain to me what an Obama Organizing Fellow actually Does? I would be really interested in knowning.

by Mr Sifter 2008-04-02 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

If I had to guess, I would say they focus on activities like:

1. Recruitment of volunteers

  1. Event organizing (drives morale, offers recruitment opportunities
  2. Canvassing (ties into GOTV and more volunteer recruitment)
  3. Phone banking (GOTV; volunteer recruitment)
  4. Campaign visibility operations like banner placement, flier distribution, etc

by tessellated 2008-04-02 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

It says details will be released on the 5th (Saturday)

by recusancy 2008-04-02 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

This is a great recognition of the grass roots organizing that is taking place in the Obama campaign.  I am one of the volunteers that is joining the Obama movement in the Harrisburg PA region preparing for the election on April 22.  I attended a team meeting tonight and heard the Obama staff talk about how these grass roots efforts are being built for the election but also built to last to make a difference in all of our communities.  It is an honor to be part of such a people powered movement.  As Todd said I hope all democrats appreciate what the Obama campaign is doing.  I hope he gets the nomination soon so these teams can focus on the general and not pitting democrats against democrats.  

Please everyone, unite before the general election

by clean sweep 2008-04-02 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Thanks for all your work!

by recusancy 2008-04-02 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Yes, we in Obama land will teach you how to "Googlebomb" and flood media outlets with threatening letters and threaten delegates and tear each other apart so that nobody voice gets heard except those we agree with whether they are good for the country or not. Won't you join us in gaming the democracy that has made America what it should never have been with things like not counting votes, harrassing old people to leave polling stations, etc. Together, we can make sure the media narrative goes our way and no dissenting voices will ever be heard. Help us force those who disagree to get banned and "disappeared" so only WE are heard from.

by glennmcgahee 2008-04-03 03:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

Whoopie and now i am sure you feel so much better about your life!!!! :)=

by er1975 2008-04-03 04:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

In the last few posts, it is really good to see the front pagers returning to what I loved about MYDD before the primary season began in interest.  A passionate, positive message about Democrats when they deserved to be praised, and focus on defeating Republicans, not Democrats.

by bhirsh26 2008-04-03 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Building A Grassroots Army

"Grassroots movements" are not tied to one campaign to elect one person to one political office. While supporting a particular candidate may be a part of such a movement, that is not the crux of it. The civil rights movement was a grassroots movement, so was the anti-war movement, the women's movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the environmentalist movement, and so on. Obama's campaign for presidency is NOT such a movement.

For example, some members of the anti-war movement supported and worked for Eugene McCarthy, RFK, and George McGovern in their campaigns for the presidency, but these campaigns were not the be-all and end-all of the grassroots, anti-war movement. Rather, these candidacies were seen by members of the movement as only a part of the picture, a means towards a much more important end (which, obviously, was ending US involvement in the Vietnam War).

Nor do I see how this egotistically-named program is an example of a "bottom up" anything. The program was devised by the central Obama campaign and will be run by it as well. Again, compare this with, say the civil rights movement. That real grassroots movement really was run from the bottom up. There were several different orginizational structures (NAACP, SNCC, CORE, and many, many other large groups, as well as inumerable local and regional groups) working in different venues and ways--direct action, symbolic protests, marches and rallies, boycotts, lobbying of legislatures, legal actions, etc., etc. No one "leader," not even Dr. King, could set the entire agenda and determine the tactics to be used. Members of the movement had their choice of organization, of leaders, of tactics and even, to some extent, of ultimate goals.  And this was true of the other real grassroots movements as well.

But, here, we have one central orginization, the Obama campaign, announcing an official "program" which it will control. And what will these "activists" do after they have been "trained?" Why, go work on the Obama general election campaign, of course. From the Chicago Sun Times:

"Plouffe described some of the 'small things in the wee hours' the Obama campaign was doing for November, assuming that Obama will be the nominee. . .

"Continue precinct-level organizing. Last year there was Obama U. The campaign is already launching the 'Obama Organizing Fellows' program to train students or recent graduates to work this summer. An 'underappreciated part of what happens in the fall, which is, in all the battleground states, the Obama organization is going to be stronger than the McCain organization at the grass roots level,' said Plouffe."

http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/87058 7,CST-NWS-sweet01.article

"Grassroots army?" I don't think so. Obama's campaign is asking for volunteers to be trained this Summer to help him win the presidency in November. There is nothing wrong with that, it just has nothing to do with "building a grassroots army."

by freemansfarm 2008-04-03 06:35AM | 0 recs

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