Respect, empower, and include. Repeat.
With another successful Obama election behind us, those who were involved with Obama for America (OFA) at the grassroots level are likely wondering, “What’s next?” After his first election, it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that OFA 2.0, aka “Organizing for America” came into being. I was privileged to be chosen to attend a 300-person debriefing conference about a month after election, dubbed “The Legacy Conference” where those of us who were deeply involved in the campaign got together to discuss OFA’s future. Within 9 months, we knew what that was going to look like.
There was a stark contrast between the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns. In my area, Washtenaw County, we had around a dozen staff people in 2008. Even after the McCain campaign bailed on Michigan, we still had around six paid people working in our area.
This year, we had two. These two people accomplished what it took upwards of 12 to do in 2008. Why? It was the continuance of the grassroots organization that allowed the Obama campaign to be more efficient and to rely more on local volunteer leaders who had been trained over the previous four years. I’ve written about Alaina, the young woman who ran the downtown Ann Arbor Kerrytown GOTV operation. She worked full time for several months for OFA and was never paid a dime. She did it because she was committed and empowered.
During the time between elections, the OFA volunteer organization helped put pressure on Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act, to pass the Stimulus, and to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. All of the same organizing techniques we used during the election were brought to bear on these issues: canvassing, phonebanking and face-to-face conversations with our friends, neighbors and co-workers.
The same process for shaping the future of OFA is again underway. If you haven’t already, be sure to take the OFA survey which you can find HERE.
This survey will help guide OFA’s decision process. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina describes what they are doing here in this interview with Politico:
Another way to get involved is to hook up with TheAction.org. After the election, President Obama held a conference call with volunteers across the country. During that call, we learned that we can all stay involved NOW (unlike in 2008 when things went quiet for 9-10 months) by connecting with this site. Their current focus is on repealing the Bush tax cuts for millionaires.
If you missed the call, you can listen to it HERE:
I recommend listening to it. President Obama has some very important things to say about OFA volunteers in terms of what they have accomplished and, more importantly, what they have yet to accomplish.
Barack Obama is not done yet but already he has left a legacy behind him: tens of thousands of people all across the country, trained in community organizing skills, motivated by success and fueled by a thirst for real change in which they have a significant role to play.
I’m in. How about you?