17 June 2008

Obama And Community Organising

Barack Obama is bringing his background as a community organiser to the fore. His campaign has recruited 3600 activists who'll work for the next six weeks. Their emphasis will be community organising (voter registration; organising several thousand "Unite For Change" events). This simply hasn't been done before during a Presidential campaign in the US.

The buzzwords used by the Obama campaign for these events?

- "Welcome more people into this movement"
- "Share your excitement"
- "Turn the page ... with friends of all political persuasions"
- "This is not about Democrats and Republicans, this is about Americans coming together"
- "It is time for us to work together to achieve the American vision"
- "Together we Americans can do anything!"

Working together = Obama. Together we can do anything = Obama. Excitement = Obama. An American vision = Obama.

It's also interesting who they are deploying to key states. Buffy Wicks is a good example. Wicks is a 30 year old Texan. She was his regional director for California. She's an anti-war and an anti-Walmart activist, and was an organiser in the 2004 Dean campaign. She's been sent to Missouri, a swing state (a swing state with a female Senator, Claire McCaskill, who in her short time in Washington has set an anti-corruption tone).

What's the relevance of this to Coventry?

If we're going to have long-term success in Coventry, we have to go beyond an occasional stall, or even just quarterly newsletters. We need to take a specific area of the city and really engage with it, engage with it over a two-year period, and apply some "pavement politics" -- petitions, community organising, questionnaires, public meetings, open surgeries ... and stalls and quarterly newsletters. If we're going to have long-term success in Coventry, we're going to have to show people how Green policies and politics -- sustainability, cohesive communities, pro-active action, effort over a 15-25 year cycle, rather than worrying about next year's elections -- can make a difference for them.


Rayyan said...

I've blogged on lessons progressives everywhere can draw from the Obama campaign:


You are spot on - we Greens should work on a community organising strategy that takes the best of the Obama campaign and applies it on a local level with local considerations. It's a shame Conference is so close otherwise I'd suggest we organise a fringe on it! Again, I'm glad to see another Green taking note of what practical information we can glean from the US elections.

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