Proving that you can both support a candidate and hold him or her accountable, a major effort by grassroots activists within the Obama campaign is asking for his support in opposing the bad FISA Amendments Act, and particularly, telco amnesty.
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. The group initially spread through the Obama network, since the site's platform instantly connects members through a dedicated email listserve. On Monday, for example, over 200 emails shot across the wire, reaching the roughly 2,300 members who opted to receive individual messages. The exchanges ranged from policy debates, like whether immunity was acceptable if the telephone companies acted in good faith, to organizing strategies, such as promoting the group on sharing sites like Digg. Then some activists open-sourced the project, creating a wiki-hub for additional actions -- from calling Obama's office to urging Keith Olbermann to promote the group -- and launched partner groups on other sites like Facebook.
The group's effort has also hit the NYT.
This effort shows two things: the always-expanding power of the Internet for organizing. We knew at the outset what a powerful tool the tubes were going to present, but the new iterations that people create on a daily basis is fantastic (and another reason for the Net Neutrality fight to be rejoined full force when we have our new president and Congress).
It also shows that you can fully support Barack Obama and still disagree with him on issues. That being a supporter, particularly a netroots supporter, doesn't mean setting aside your own beliefs and principles. We're not supposed to just shut up when we disagree--if we do, we're setting a very bad precedent for our role in a potential Obama presidency. I keep going back to the Louis Brandeis quote:
The most important political office is that of private citizen.
-Louis D. Brandeis
You can support a candidate and fulfill your political office of a private citizen at the same time. A huge number of Barack Obama's supporters on his site are doing just that.