Politics — February 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm

OFA 2.0 – Changing the DNC From a Party to a Movement


There’s a terrific Esquire article this month that profiles David Plouffe, the mastermind behind Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change. In it he discusses the development of Organizing For Change and how it will change the face of politics forever. More to the point, it will reshape the Democratic party and take it to a new level, one never seen before and transform it into a movement.

Money quote:

“It’s not the Democratic party anymore,” one highly placed Democrat said. “It’s the Obama party.”

Last night, volunteer team leaders and other “supervolunteers” from the Obama Campaign for Change were invited to a national conference call where we got a bit of taste of what’s to come with the grassroot organization that formed during the campaign. On the call were David Plouffe, OFA Executive Director Mitch Stewart and OFA Deputy Director Jeremy Bird.

As announced by President Obama, the Campaign for Change has become Organizing for America (OFA). You might expect that David Plouffe, after his astounding success during the primary and general election campaigns would head this new organization. You would be wrong. Plouffe not only “turned down Obama’s invitation to join the administration”, he is also turning the reins over to Mitch Stewart who ran Barack Obama’s stunning primary campaign in Iowa.

Mitch Stewart, Obama’s Iowa caucus director, will serve as executive director, with Plouffe overseeing from afar with the freedom to come and go as he pleases. But Plouffe will not be on the payroll. He says they wouldn’t pay him that much, anyway, plus he sees it as a way of passing the torch. But also, “The DNC has a history of having people on contract, and our hope is that that tradition can come to an end.” In other words, in the old DNC you could be a free agent, divide your time, come in as a pinch hitter. Not anymore. In the new DNC — in Organizing for America — you will work full-time for the DNC and Obama’s goals, or you will not work for them at all. Unless, of course, you are the unpaid architect of the whole initiative.

What will OFA look like? What do they hope to accomplish? Only a tantalizing glimpse was revealed during last night’s conference call but we do know that there will be paid staff in every state, hundreds of them across the country. Here is how Plouffe envisions it:

The model they came up with will be an independent entity under the umbrella of the DNC, with a separate staff in Washington, its own structure and Web site, and field offices with technical staff and fieldworkers across the country. Like the campaign operation. Also like the campaign, Organizing for America won’t accept any outside PAC or lobbyist money. Instead, it will be funded solely from individual donors.

“Most of what this entity will be doing is building grassroots support for issues and politics,” says Plouffe. “Let’s say there’s an energy effort, an energy plan, that the president and some of Congress would like to get passed. People would get out there and talk to their neighbors and try to build support.”

OFA is now mobilizing to get its members to support the president’s new economic stimulus plans. They are encouraging them to hold Economic Recovery House Meetings this weekend to bring people together to discuss the plan and to learn how they can help support it.

Consider logging on to Organizing for America’s website and finding one near you. OFA is changing how Americans interact with their government officials and the country’s administration.

..the real function and reach of Organizing for America won’t be fully understood until it gets running. Like the campaign, it is a living organism that will be ever-changing depending upon circumstance. But the sketch is there. And its potential impact could be utter and complete…

Listen, says Plouffe, quietly and forcefully. Calm and competitive, wired together. “My wildest hope is that the debate will move out of Washington” and onto the porches of America…

[he believes that OFA will change] the way politics is conducted, in the potential to harness the power of the movement he built

At its core, OFA is intended to promote the efforts of the Democratic administration, to get Democrats elected and to engage Democrats in becoming more involved in their communities, all the while fostering two-way communication from the grassroots to the top and back again. Make no mistake, OFA is part of the DNC. At the bottom of every OFA webpage is a box that says “Paid for Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee.”

What OFA brings is a new approach to how the Democratic party does business that will tranform it from a stagnant, bureaucratic organization into a movement – a movement that engages citizens, many for the first time, and brings them into government & politics in ways never before seen.

“It’s not the Democratic party anymore. It’s the Obama party.”

I’m just sayin’…