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.
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.
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.