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  •  Obama's master plan goes beyond the election (1+ / 0-)
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    ""What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer," he asked a local newspaper at the time, "as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them?"

    Since embarking on a political career, Obama hasn't forgotten the philosophical and practical lessons that he learned on the streets of Chicago and that are now central to his campaign for the White House.

    Last year, Obama enlisted Marshall Ganz, one of the country's leading organizing theorists, to help train organizers and volunteers as a key component of his presidential campaign. In the early 1960s, Ganz dropped out of Harvard to work in the South with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the student wing of the civil-rights movement. He then returned to his home state of California to join Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, becoming a key architect of the union's early successes. The UFW combined a clear-eyed drive for more workers' power in the California fields and orchards with a deep spiritual yearning for personal and social change.

    Ganz now teaches the history and practice of organizing at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Organizing," he says, "combines the language of the heart as well as the head."

    According to Ganz, "it is values, not just interests" that inspire people to participate in social movements. This approach is well-suited to Obama's own style of translating values into action by telling his own story in public.

    A key tenet of community organizing is developing face to face contact with people so that they forge commitments to work together around shared values. Organizers are not social workers. Their orientation is not to "service" people as if they were clients, but to encourage people to develop their own abilities to mobilize others. They help people turn their "hot" anger into disciplined action. Community organizers also distinguish themselves from traditional political campaign operatives who approach voters as customers through direct mail, telemarketing, and canvassing urging them to support their candidate as if they were selling soap.

    This approach is reflected in how Obama's campaign has integrated itself into local communities. In Iowa, for example, campaign organizers, both paid staff and volunteers, were required to help in community recycling projects, tree planting and garbage pick-up -- making themselves available for the day-to-day tasks required to enhance the neighborhoods they were in.

    Mitch Stewart, the Iowa field director, explained that "the Obama campaign merged the professional political operation and the movement operation."

    The campaign recruited coordinators and volunteer teams in each of Iowa's 1,781 precincts, developed chapters at over 200 Iowa high schools (called "Barack Stars"), and built campaign operations on almost every college campus in the state. On caucus day, the campaign enlisted 3,000 volunteers.

    The dramatic increase in Iowa's caucus turnout -- twice the number from four years earlier -- is due in large measure to the these organizing efforts."

    and another great article

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