04 September 2008

Plouffe Responds to Palin and Giuliani Community Organizer Barbs

David Plouffe responds:

Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.

Let's clarify something for them right now.

Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.

. . . Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America's promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. And it's happening today in church basements and community centers and living rooms across America.

Meanwhile, we still haven't gotten a single idea during the entire Republican convention about the economy and how to lift a middle class so harmed by the Bush-McCain policies.

It's now clear that John McCain's campaign has decided that desperate lies and personal attacks -- on Barack Obama and on you -- are the only way they can earn a third term for the Bush policies that McCain has supported more than 90 percent of the time.

I'll note that the emphasis belongs to the author. That fourth paragraph, citing the historical achievements of community organizing in America, is killer.

There's something to this that I didn't pick up on right away. By mocking the community-pause-"organizer" role, Rudy Giuliani effectively undermines what every politician must do at one time or another. That is, inspire or interest people, by hook or by crook, to come out and support a common cause: the candidate. It's crazy, when you think about it.

Every single politician in America has at some point organized communities to turn out in school gymnasiums and church basements, has made the rounds of county fairs and city festivals to speak to individuals and gathered groups about issues that matter locally. Politicians listen--or pretend to listen--to the common problems that plague working voters, and then suggest solutions. Politicians rally for change and support, and inform the assembled citizens as to exactly how they can help bring relief to their communities by voting for said politician on said date. That is, to be sure, the one example of community organizing that exists across the entire political spectrum and is essential to winning all manner of public office from school board secretary to commander-in-chief : vote getting.

Giuliani and Palin effectively belittled Obama before a partisan crowd, but the votes they need this year will come from undecided and independent voters, and that crowd may have a more dynamic and a more wide-ranging perspective on what the country needs. I believe many are ready for marked change, and many are ready especially for greater public optimism and involvement in community issues.

And as for those claims that Obama has not been "CEO," which we heard from many more surrogates last night, I would simply point out that Obama serves as CEO and president ("decider," if you will) of the largest, most energized, most money-fetching campaign in history, with a staff of 1,000--not counting volunteers--and an annual budget many, many times larger than Wasilla's $13 million (see City of Wasilla FY 07-08 biennial budget .pdf; Obama by comparison has raised over $389 million and spent more than $325 million to date, without counting August toward either figure).

When you look at it that way, it's easy to understand that establishment Republicans are desperate to belittle and minimize the community organizer turned successful chief executive who, I'm now sure, represents a political will that positively scares the hell out of them.