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I'm going to make some mistakes, but you'll set me right.

- Barack Obama, January 26, 2009

ed. note - I originally posted this diary on the one year anniversary of the 2008 election. This is an update.

I have a tiny, 750 square-foot house. But I’ve somehow made room for one of those enormous Obama "Hope" posters. You know the one – you’ve seen it a million times. This one sits framed in my kitchen – on it are the signatures of many of the volunteers I worked with on the Obama campaign last year.

Every day I am reminded of the miracle we pulled off. Every day I’m reminded how, in our congressional district alone (CA-36), 1,500 volunteers made over 600,000 phone calls to swing states all over the country, and sent hundreds of volunteers to Nevada and New Mexico to get out the vote and turn those states blue.

Every day I am reminded that change can only happen when citizens stand together and take ownership over their government, their country, their communities and themselves. Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign, but rather begins with a new President, a new government, and a new day.


Republicans have taken the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, yet in NY-23 Democrat Bill Owens beat out "Conservative Party" candidate Doug Hoffman, and Democrat John Garamendi easily defeated Republican David Harmer in CA-10 by running as a staunch progressive in what had previously been considered a "moderate" democratic district.

In a heartbreaking reminder of Proposition 8 in California, another marriage equality vote denies homosexual Americans their rights – this time in Maine.

And yes, we won the first Health Care Reform vote in the House. An historic vote that came at a steep price, with 64 Democrats voting to severely restrict poor and middle-income access to reproductive choice. 24 of those Democrats voted for the anti-choice Stupak amendment and against the health care bill.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

Our President inherited a shit sandwich from one of the most venal and incompetent administrations our country has ever known. It is all he and his administration can do keep our country from sinking into another Great Depression or stumbling into WWIII.

What’s left of the Republican party is becoming the American Taliban right before our eyes while Conservative Democrats threaten to derail health care legislation at every turn.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace prize this year, and we are poised to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. My brother-in-law will be returning to Iraq for his third tour of duty today, leaving a wife and three children behind. He joined the Army 15 years ago because when his wife got pregnant with their first son and they couldn’t afford health insurance. They still can’t.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

I believe in my President. But I don’t expect him to "rescue" us. We entered into an implied contract when we helped get Barack Obama elected. We expected Change, we expected to be respected, empowered and included, we expected him to fight, and we expected to join him in that fight.

That contract, in many ways, has only been partially fulfilled.

As way of example, I take Obama at his word when he says he believes the public option is the best way to reform our health care system. But here’s what I’ve never heard him say:

   While the public option may be the best way to bring reform to our health care system, it’s not the easiest or surest road to passing health care reform through congress – in fact it may be the most difficult. I understand this risk and willing to take it, because together I believe we can make this dream a reality.

Instead, I believe the President and his advisers have chosen a different path, one they hoped was less risky, one that would more likely give them a victory that’s eluded every President since Roosevelt. They chose triggers. They chose Olympia Snowe. They have, all along the way, chose to manage expectations for the public option instead of drawing a line in the sand and fighting for it. Not because they’re corrupt, or deceitful or because they don’t believe in efficacy of the public option, but because they don’t believe the system would allow it to happen.

They say politics is the art of the possible.

This is what they believe is possible.

I believe they’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and by doing so, have made the possible finite.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

   If the American people want the president to be more like the Barack Obama they elected, maybe they should start acting more like the voters who elected him, who forcibly and undeniably moved the political establishment to where it didn’t want to go.

So it’s up to us – all of us – to hold our President accountable. To support him when he needs it, but also to hold his feet to the fire when he chooses the merely possible over the audacity of hope.

This why I support a boycott of donations to the DNC, DCCC, DSCC and yes, even OFA.

Let me be clear about why I support withholding my donations to OFA. If you look at the OFA website and scroll all the way down to the bottom, you'll see this.

A project of the Democratic National Committee

If you hit the DONATE button on one of those Mitch Stewart emails, it'll take you to this page. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll see this disclaimer.

Your contribution is not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution for Federal income tax purposes. Your contribution will be used in connection with Federal elections and is subject to the limits and prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

What does this mean? It means you're money can, and will, be used any way the DNC feels is appropriate. It means your money is as likely to be used to help reelect Bart Stupak or Blanche Lincoln as it is to buy office supplies for your local OFA office. More so probably.

So yes, I support the boycott. But I support it because I don't believe it helps our President to support the reelection of obstructionist Democrats who oppose our President's agenda. Especially if those Democrats are incumbents facing primary challenges from progressive candidates.

Instead, I will send my money through ACT BLUE to Democrats who are as  interested in fixing our problems than they are in being reelected. Or better yet (thanks Adam B)donate to those Dems in Republican-leaning districts who voted against Stupak and for health care reform.

Will we agree on everything on every issue? I doubt it. This is a democracy after all, people can agree to disagree. But at least I'll know we're on the same team.

As for OFA, my philosophy is they're a tool in the toolbox - not the whole toolbox. Here's an example.

Back in July, OFA was having us call safe blue districts in CA - they were list building. I understand why they were doing this, but this wasn't something I was at all interested in, so I partnered with another progressive organization to obtain VAN (voter file) access. I cut lists for two Blue Dog lawmakers in CA who were known fence-sitters - Cardoza and Costa.

Utilizing the networks I had built while working on the campaign, I recruited phone bankers from all over the state. I welcomed all comers - want to advocate for single payer? Sure! Wanted to talk a constituent's ear off about the public option? Glad to have you!

Six weeks before OFA started calling into those districts, I'm proud to say we met our goal of 10,000 phone calls to those lawmaker's constituents. In the end, Costa and Cardoza ended up voted for health care reform (and unfortunately, for Stupak as well)

I know so many who have become discouraged by the path OFA has taken, and I completely understand why. But the fact of the matter is, OFA trained me how to do the work, and I've found that knowledge extremely useful.

I also know there are a lot of really great volunteers in that organization who mean well and want to do the right thing. So while I am at times critical of OFA's policy, you will never find me being critical of the vols themselves. I keep those lines of communication open so that if OFA decides on a course of action I can get behind, I can be there to help. And help I will. Anything to make sure the path against the public option, against withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, against the climate change bill, against the Stupak amendment, against repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell", and against federal marriage equality is more difficult than the path for it.

This is our end of the contract. We have to understand what the issues are, and understand that merely "supporting the President’s agenda" may not be enough.

Every day, when I walk by my kitchen wall and see that poster and see my volunteer's names scrawled across its face, I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

We did not ask permission then and we do not need permission now.

We will be the change we seek and we will move our country towards the possibilities of the infinite.


Originally posted to msblucow on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 08:06 AM PST.

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