Red CurtainsOtherwise known as Obama’s perpetual campaign in three acts.

First Act: Obama for America get a Democratic outsider elected President. Check.

Second Act: Organizing for America, maintain control of team, momentum, money and get Obama re-elected. Check.

Third Act: Organizing for Action, legislative and Presidential legacy building. Thumb nose at DNC, DCCC and DSCC. Buffering

Frankly it’s brilliant.

For him.

Don’t read any further if constructive criticism of the President’s campaign tactics will upset you.

Curtain opens on the 2004 Democratic National Convention, enter Illinois State Senator Barack Obama who gives an electrifying speech about unity.

Fast forward three years  to OFA Act One, ah the happy memories of joyfully singing kumbya and holding hands in 2008. Millions of people participating in the democratic process, many for the first time. Hope, Change & Obamalicious. I happily worked and voted for him. Yes I  have the t-shirt.

After eight long years of President Bush, the Democratic Party looked forward to a leader who could apply his many gifts to building and strengthening our party. A strong foundation had been laid by DNC Chairman Dean with the 50 State Strategy. Gov. Dean encouraged low dollar fundraising, emphasized  engaging locally, built up the volunteer base and embraced technology. This may explain why many of us were confused by OFA- Act Two.  I didn’t understand how a separate organization would fit within the political structure that is the DNC and not compete against the national or state organizations. What would that mean for the 50 State strategy? Who would decide where efforts and energy would be spent? As it turned out it was always going to be two organizations competing for our time and money. It didn’t take long to see that the Obama volunteers would never be encouraged to join state and county Democratic organizations to fight the local fights.

I wrote a couple posts about the confusion and conflicts I witnessed, but deleted them in the interest of unity. I wish I hadn’t, I could have linked to them now because my concerns proved to be accurate.  For example without a coordinated effort OFA-Two failed spectacularly in the 2010 midterms and responding to the Tea Party.  Sure a nominal 50 State Strategy was maintained in the sense they funded a couple positions in each state, but by early 2012 if was obvious that only 19 or so were really daddy’s favorite. OFA-One  would effectively  use OFA-Two to identify resources  to  be deployed to the states necessary to win the President’s 2012 re-election. Georgia like others became a “donor” state,  with money, phone calls and volunteers going to Florida and North Carolina. It was clearly marketed as Georgia for Obama, and not Obama for Georgia, I’ll give them that.

OFA-Three  is fascinating because it takes us back to the beginning. He’s always been an uneasy party player. So for them the obvious next step is to take OFA out of the party entirely, after all he’s never going to run for anything again.

OFA-Three makes no bones about not being affiliated with the DNC. They chose to create it as a non-profit, thus ensuring they don’t have to share their data and resources with political organizations.  Well isn’t that just swell, all the leverage we could have to get Democrats elected in 2014 and 2016 and they’ve embargoed it.  They sure put a pretty face on the announcement though.

Isn’t it nifty that as a 501-C(4) they don’t have to follow his previous directives on campaign finance regarding  accepting corporate donations. I can think of a dozen times the DPG had offers from corporations and Unions but they were told they couldn’t accept them if a member of the administration was in attendance. It wasn’t illegal, it was Obama’s own rules about not accepting “special interest money”.  It’s a tactic that  was perhaps unwitting but never the less institutionalized monetary weakness for the DNC and the Democratic party all over the country.

It intrigues me who’s running the OFA-Three show. All the very same faces we saw in the beginning Messina, O’Malley, Gibbs et al. I give the President credit, if he likes you it’s a lifetime of employment.

This isn’t a case of President Carter leaving the Oval office and starting the Carter Center, or of President Clinton founding the Clinton Global Initiative. President Obama, is STILL the President and the leader of the Democratic Party. Is he confused by this? I can tell you the GOP isn’t confused by it and will use any excuse to beat Democratic candidates about the head and shoulders with it.

I suppose this sounds like I’m a bitter kitten.

I’m not, really I’m not.

I’m fascinated by it.

It’s brilliant.

I repeat, for him.

I was a Democrat long before I heard his speech in Boston, and while I am happy he’s President I am disappointed that OFA-Three reinforces a “outsider” meme. As he’s told us many times it’s not “red states and blues states” making  up one America, but it sure the hell isn’t “one” party.  He has to realize that he’s kneecaping the DNC, lord knows what the impact to DCCC and DSCC will be, but I suspect it’s an issue. It stuns me that this would be announced before the inauguration and before the first DNC meeting. If you’ve served the party for decades how does this look to you?

For Democrats living in a toxic electoral state we are, and continue to be, on our own. Think about that the next time you send your hard earned money to an organization you’ve never seen do one single thing to change the death grip the GOP has on the south, on Georgia and in many local organizations.

Unity my ass.

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11 Responses to OFA Evolution

  1. Jules says:

    Interesting what they are doing in Texas. It looks a bit more than a Facebook page.

    “National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO.
    The organization, dubbed “Battleground Texas,” plans to engage the state’s rapidly growing Latino population, as well as African-American voters and other Democratic-leaning constituencies that have been underrepresented at the ballot box in recent cycles. Two sources said the contemplated budget would run into the tens of millions of dollars over several years – a project Democrats hope has enough heft to help turn what has long been an electoral pipe dream into reality.”

    rest is here.
    Read more:

  2. BEZERKO says:

    I don’t know, I see it as more of a lobbying organization.

  3. Drew says:

    I think you have to have a pretty harsh opinion of the President to reach any of these conclusions. So yes, this does sound like an argument based more on personal bitterness than on reason.

    You make it sound as if this is a Barack Obama appreciation fund. Yet its purpose is to advocate for the Democratic legislative agenda – health reform, immigration reform, climate change. Is that selfish? How will it compromise the Democratic Party to advocate for the Democratic agenda?

    As for whether it will deprive the Democratic Party of resources, well, for one, its leadership has, in the past, demanded that the president give his blessing to 501(c)4s so its donors feel comfortable contributing to them. And he did, long before now. So if the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC were fine with those 501(c)4s, even if they might deprive them of resources, why would they have a problem with this one?

    But let’s suppose that they were depriving other organizations of resources. So what? If they’re more effective at achieving progressive goals than those other organizations, then they deserve those resources. I very much doubt that the DNC, DSCC, or the DCCC will be hurting for money or volunteers, but if people look at the local Democratic organizations and see them as, oh, I dunno, dysfunctional (if only in a relative sense), then it’s better that those volunteers have a national alternative than nothing at all.

    Or should Obama, say, turn people away and tell them to work for Alvin Greene? Or maybe Mark Clayton?

    • Steve Golden says:

      Ed, with all respect, back down brother.

      You have no idea whether or not Trevor wrote the above post, so I don’t know why you have to go around blasting the fact that he used to be a Libertarian.

      • ire says:

        Because I saw his name next to the post. Turns out, it was just a recent comment, not the authorial hallmark.

    • I didn’t write this, so I don’t see why you’re attempting to, in a round about way, credit that quote to me.

      As anyone who knows me is aware, despite being raised by a Democrat, I was not always one. I became a Democrat in large part due to Barack Obama’s campaign, as well as various changes in my own political views.

  4. JMPrince says:

    While I’m in agreement with some of this sentiment, no one really knows the whys or much of the future. If past is prolog, yes, it’ll be another DFA. But be that as it may this always had less to do with our ‘putative toxic electoral future’, and possibly more now about how campaign and operational funding have been perverted by the infamously miserable Citizen’s United ruling. As Batgurl may recall, the Cavalry was never coming to rescue us, not now, not ever. Ask the folks from WI or MI about that problem too. It’s a much larger issue than just us. No one can or might save us but ourselves. We need to organize around that. JMP

  5. Thanks, BatGurl. I’ve been ranting about this to my uninterested wife, all day. I needed a public unleashing of these thoughts and feelings that have been building for nearly half a decade. Sigh. Thanks for putting fingers to keyboard and voice to thought.

  6. Peaches says:

    In looking around the web today, the reviews are split. Some think the Democratic Party is outdated and deserves to be marginalized. Others, like you (and I), are concerned that the largest political organization in Democratic Party history is now prevented by law from engaging in partisan politics.

    I understand why they did this, but success isn’t a foregone conclusion. Morphing an organization that is personality based into one that deals with issue advocacy is a very heavy lift. They might be able to sustain it for the next four years, but once President Obama is out of the picture, the organization will be dead. DFA tried this on a much smaller scale and eventually faded away after several cycles, even though Howard Dean became Chair of the DNC and his brother was installed as the head of DFA.

    Whatever the case, it’s pretty clear that OFA considers the party to be a complete nonstarter. On Inauguration weekend, OFA is holding a “Campaign Legacy Conference” in DC to determine “what’s next for the organization”.

    There is no room for party people in Obamaland, and there apparently never will be.

    • ire says:

      A part of me is like, well, do you blame him? Bill has a lock on the Democratic Party as the kingmaker and Obama would always be living in Bill’s shadow there. He was always attempting to be above the partisan fray so not engaging in partisan politics seems like an apt ending. But you’re right about the shift. Organizations MUST stand for something and to have such a seachange will be difficult at best to maintain.

      I’m sure we’re all familiar that the Obama fanaticism doesn’t extend much beyond the man (sidenote: frankly the extreme fetishization of his life has become truly creepy).

      So basically my overall point is: he’s someone from an organizing background, it behooves him to have his own organization that attempts to build on a movement that is only linked to him. He’s expressed ambivalence about the need to have a Presidential Library so this would be his legacy. Really, I don’t know what to expect–nor do I particularly care.