Obama's FISA update
by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Jul 02, 2008 at 05:42:39 AM EDT
Ari Melber has been doing the reporting:
A grassroots group of activists has been organizing on MyBo, Obama's official social networking portal, to protest the Senator's recent decision to back controversial legislation granting the President more spying powers. The effort hit a big milestone on Tuesday afternoon: It is now the largest self-organized group on Obama's website, topping networks that were launched over a year ago. The spying protest, "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right," launched last week. (See Obama Network Organizes and Revolts Over Spying, The Nation.)
Membership spiked to about 8,900 people on Tuesday, edging out a student group with roughly 8,600 members, and one organizer estimated that the growth rate reached a rapid four percent during the daytime.
Jeff Jarvis had some good thoughts on the effort:
... I find two things fascinating about this: First, we are beginning to see a campaign built openly on coalitions. Even though I disagree with them, I am happy to see the anti-immunity lobby crack the monolithic, glassy-eyed facade of the Obama fan club (the sort of people who yell at me in my comments and tell me I'm not allowed to disagree with him about anything). Thank goodness we see disagreement and discussion -- democracy -- inside a campaign. I believe the greatest impact the internet will have on politics will be that it enables like-minded groups to find each other and organize apart from old organizations and labels (red, blue, Republican, Democrat); we will organize around issues and priorities rather than parties. See the comments under this post.
Second, I wonder what these self-organizing groups will look like when they get into power. The Deaniacs and Joe Trippi made valiant attempts to stay organized after their campaign melted but that didn't work. If Obama gets into the White House, though, will his supporters at MyBarackObama continue to use these tools to influence him and government? And will he have to listen because he is beholden to them?
What I find ironic is all of the naysaysers within the comments on the Nation after Ari's post. Belittling, of all things, the numbers. This is a moment that has been a long time in waiting, when the netroots would turn toward organizing effectively within the institutions around which have they have campaigned for heavily, first with Dean in '03 and all the races in-between then and now with Obama in '08. Fundraising and mobilization have happened around campaigns, but the FISA organizing is more powerful and portends the future. This is going to be a clash that continues to happen, between many first-timers, that have been brought into politics through Barack Obama, and those that have been pushing for progressive policies through the netroots over the decade.
Now, I do understand the argument that we need to get power first, getting a strong Democratic trifecta, before the push for progressive reform begins to happen, but the efforts around FISA over the past year point the way, this merely the latest example.
Joe Trippi makes a note in the comments:
The Obama campaign has made the courageous decision to keep his dissidents under his tent and armed with the tools his campaign can provide to organize. Can you imagine a Bush campaign reacting like this? I can't. But if we are going to campaign effectively on the web we must understand that power resides in the grassroots and the days of autocratic control from above are over.