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View Diary: My Comment upon Unsubscribing from OFA (145 comments)

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  •  The disparate network . . . (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rubine, Munchkn, Surly Cracker, LSmith, laker

    that is the netroots has has an impact on getting candidates elected.  Without Netroots activism the Dems would not have retaken control of the Senate in 2006 (both Tester and Webb would have lost); the 60 seats margin was provided in 2008 in part by netroots activism.  

    In terms of policy influence, this is still an open question.  OFA seems more like a PR wing of the administration rather than an active participant in shaping policy.

    •  Politics is PR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Newsie8200

      They are making phone calls, knocking on doors, and holding rallies for Health Care reform.  It's accurate that they aren't getting deep into specifics, but that's not really their role.  They just keep pushing 'Reform, reform, reform.'

      •  Politics is more than optics . . . (0+ / 0-)

        and PR.  The end game is always policy.

        OFA is unlike the AARP, the UAW, Change to Win, or any other major lobby in the city in terms of the way that it operates.  

        If the AARP just did PR and it didn't also get involved in the weeds effecting policy on behalf of its constituents, it too would start losing members.

        There's an inherent conflict in having the OFA so closely tied to the administration; it would be like the UAW abandoning its dues paying members.  

        •  But OFA is a Battering Ram (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Newsie8200

          Five million volunteers aren't capable of the kind of finesse you're describing.  

          I don't think it's fair to compare the money flowing up model of the AARP and the lobbyists they employ with the activism flowing out model that OFA uses.

          •  AARP has . . . (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Munchkn

            roughly 35 million members.  Change to Win is over 4 million members.

            AARP is one of the most influential lobbies in DC.

            If the end-game isn't influence, I'm not really sure why anyone would give their time or money to the organization.  If it's just reading talking points of the White House, then they aren't really an advocacy organization for dues paying members.  There's an inherent conflict in the way the organization operates.

            •  I Think That's Where The Conflict Is (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Newsie8200

              You're right: Thye aren't an advocacy organization for dues paying members.  Members don't pay dues.  You can't compare OFA to AARP or Change To Win.

              I have to believe you're playing kind of dumb here.  You know there are many millions of Americans who like the White House and agree with the White House?  Just like OFA (when it was still "Obama For America") was about communicating Obama's message then, and we had plenty of people lining up to do that.  OFA is the bully pulpit divided by millions and targetted.  It's a way to quickly rally support for initiatives that the party and the White House think are important, and there are simply millions of people who think that's a good idea.

              If you're not one of them, that's cool... but I don't think it's a huge mystery why people support the organization.

              •  There are millions of Americans . . . (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                churchylafemme, Surly Cracker

                who gave time and money to Obama's campaign and who voted for him, who are not members of OFA.

                I realize that there are people who support Obama without caring too much about what the substance of the policies they're advocating for end up being.  

                If the endgame is influencing policy though, OFA probably isn't the vehicle for them.  It's more akin to a fan club centered around a personality than it is an organization founded around policy objectives.

                For some maybe this was clear at the outset; based on my own view though this was something that I didn't really appreciate until recently, because there isn't really a precedent for OFA.  Traditionally, presidents would do their lobbying and PR through existing grass-roots organizations.  In exchange these organizations would also have an influence on the contours of policy (e.g. Focus on the Family).  It was a two way street.

                With OFA this doesn't appear to be the case.  

                •  Ahh That's What It Comes Down To (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Newsie8200

                  I realize that there are people who support Obama without caring too much about what the substance of the policies they're advocating for end up being.  

                  People who agree with the President don't care about the substance of his policies, and OFA is a cult of personality.  I wondered when we'd get to the part where people who disagreed with you were unintelligent sheep.  I do not agree of course, but at least I know what angle you're coming from now.

                  •  Not right . . . (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    churchylafemme, Surly Cracker

                    More accurately:

                    People who agree with any president without regard for the substance of policies are by definition blind followers.

                    People who allow themselves room for disagreement with any president are not blind followers.

                    Most people fall somewhere between those extremes.

                    In the case of OFA a person is essentially putting their trust in Obama's acting in good faith more often than not, since they have no real input on the substance of policies.  Obama occupies their seat at the table.

                    The OFA is an instrument for helping to sell his policies.  

                    For people with strong opinions on specific policy issues, it's going to be hard in most cases for them to defer that authority to any one representative -- especially for those who view ALL politicians with a degree of skepticism.

                    So the question arises, what is the best organization for keeping OUR politicians honest? (I include Obama in the "OUR" category, since he was someone who I supported and campaigned for during the election).  

                    The OFA serves a useful function, but it doesn't really serve that particular function well.

          •  I know my local OFA staff (3+ / 0-)

            personally. Have known some of them since the campaign, and some for years before that.

            I've yet to see them do anything other than distribute the White Houses' talking points and drum up support for their policy.

            Now, I realize that's what the WH wants, but OFA (when it was Obama for America) was an entity that made people feel empowered, and at least maintained the illusion that there was a grassroots, trickle-up flow of ideas and information. When I had an idea on the campaign that could help, I was often empowered to execute it, or at least it was run up the flagpole in a meaningful way, with a response.

            Now I'm just an old guy yelling at a cloud. I realize the President doesn't have time to take my call, or care about my life, but when I try to talk to OFA people about policy, about anything, it's a brick wall. A one way street.

            Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

            by Surly Cracker on Tue Jan 05, 2010 at 12:16:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hear you . . . (3+ / 0-)

              this was something that I didn't really appreciate until today.  I have an Aunt too who was involved with OFA during the summer who expressed similar disappointment in the org.

              Structurally, the org seems like it has limitations.  I can see how the top-down approach now might have some political value, but I suspect the top-down structure is likely to sap some of the energy that you find with grass roots orgs.

              The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is actually centered around influencing policy debates -- it only has 300,000 members right now, but it is looking for a two-way, not one way street.  

              Seems like it is providing one possible alternative to the OFA.

            •  OFA's power is in its ability (0+ / 0-)

              to reach those who aren't reachable through other organizations, so it has to be done in easily digestible bits. And its power is also in sheer numbers and ability to be 'local' as opposed to some national org just helicoptering in.

              Coalition politics is required to move the progressive movement forward. OFA's role is to reach out to those who aren't labor union members and aren't interested in LCV, PPFA, and any of the other progressive organizations with significant offline grassroots presence.

            •  I remember at the initial OFA house party (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Surly Cracker

              we were told that we were only to work to support Obama's agenda. We were not to advocate any other policy position other than what Obama had advocated. That concerned me right then and there. What if you thought that the President needed to be prodded in a more progressive direction? IMHO, this rule primarily served to undermine the various local OFA workgroups. AFAIK, none of the workgroups/committees started at that first meeting are still functioning. For instance, the peace folks want to be able to protest the troop increase in Afghanistan.

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