Organizing for Action asks WaPo to recognize its work, with hilarious results

posted at 9:21 pm on July 30, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

To be fair to Organizing for Action, the juggernaut grassroots organization born of the Obama campaign, let me first present what they’ve been up to today, via an e-mail to their list:

Heads up: On Monday, President Obama turns 53 — and for his birthday this year, we’d like to try something a little different.

We’re putting together a birthday card for the President from grassroots supporters, and we’re letting you pick your favorite message and design.

Birthday cards

It has everything that makes OFA OFA. Obeisance to an elected figure ranging from slightly off-putting to downright disturbing? Check. Using a truly massive e-mail list for truly dubious asks, thereby diminishing the power of the list? Check. An illusion of engagement that safely relegates the little people to little things? Check. Memeification of American politics that has the feel of an “Idiocracy” gag? Check.

So, it turns out the folks over at Organizing for Action were upset about a piece that the Washington Post‘s politics blog The Fix had written about their surprising devolution into nonentity. OFA’s leaders bugged The Fix to evaluate their work. And, The Fix, which shall not be absolved of this piece, nonetheless responded in a great way.

After tallying the subject matter of OFA e-mails, Phillip Bump offers this assessment:

By the most important metric, the group is largely ineffective. Of the priorities above — which, according to the group’s mandate, are meant to bolster federal efforts — none has seen national legislative action. The president introduced new restrictions on carbon pollution, but that was an executive action, not legislation. Immigration reform has stalled; there hasn’t been a national minimum wage increase. All of these things are difficult, given the opposition the president faces from Republicans in Congress, but that’s the point, right? Encourage people to take action in their communities? Bottom up change and all that?

Carson sent updates from a variety of places, but most were areas that already have Democratic legislators. Los Angeles, New York, and lots of Chicago, of course. It’s clear that Sonoma County has an active OFA membership, but that’s northern California. Same with Albuquerque, New Mexico — which is represented by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). There were some events in Tennessee and Texas and the redder parts of Michigan, but most of the activity appeared to be in Democratic areas.

Among the smattering of tweets and photos and reports that Carson sent, a few activities stood out. There was a report on a day of action around climate change in late June. Another report looked at a series of events meant to build support for economic issues. There was OFA engagement in a minimum wage fight in New Mexico. And an unexpected fight over an arcane policy in California.

Let’s go through them one by one.

You should click over to read about each “action” for which Organizing for Action takes credit—scores of people watching TV together, a minimum wage fight in New Mexico it didn’t actually organize. Organizing for Action neither organizes nor creates action. Discuss. And none of this, by the way, should be perceived as my looking down on the notion of organizing, per se. Frankly, after President Obama was elected, many conservatives—the Tea Party, in particular—realized they needed to be doing more of it, and have done it to great effect at local parties and school boards. What’s interesting about OFA is that an organization of such money and such promise, staffed by those with tons of experience and good will coming off the 2008 election, became this. Something about it reminds me of the biggest Tea Party upset of the cycle, in Eric Cantor’s district, in which not one national Tea Party group played. Once these forces, which make no mistake do have true grassroots beginnings and influences, become large, national—and in OFA’s case, soldiers of the national party— there’s a point of diminishing returns. OFA is the most spectacular example of this phenomenon of lost potential.

But hey, maybe they can mobilize their people to stop the next Sharknado. The one caused by climate change. No, really.


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These poor people didn’tlearn anything from their early experience in The Purple Tunnel Of Doom.

Galtian on July 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM

LOL.

Option 3 is going to make the Community-Agitator-in-Chief hungry …

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Is that pajama boy???

Sherman1864 on July 30, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Is that pajama boy???

Sherman1864 on July 30, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Which one?

;-)

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Option 3 is going to make the Community-Agitator-in-Chief hungry …

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

I think that’s his birthday cake.

Flange on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Organizing for Action neither organizes nor creates action. Discuss.

What did you expect? It’s a petty bourgeois protest movement. The SEP and the world socialist website have written often about the political bankruptcy of these types of organizations. I will try to dig up a link to a specific article on this for you all in a little while.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

That first card should be in Spanish so the millions whose movement he’s inspired can understand it.

VelvetElvis on July 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Is this the Sharknado 2 thread?

Brat on July 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Happy Birthday! NOW RESIGN AND GO FAR, FAR AWAY!

GarandFan on July 30, 2014 at 9:37 PM

I will try to dig up a link to a specific article on this for you all in a little while.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Uh, you’re kidding right? Why don’t you save yourself some time and go cut your toenails instead.

BeachBum on July 30, 2014 at 9:37 PM

I think that’s his birthday cake.

Flange on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Heh.

Has anybody seen Bo lately? Somebody must have started a betting pool on how long he would last before some horrible accident befell him …

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:39 PM

The SEP and the world socialist website have written often about the political bankruptcy of these types of organizations.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

LMAO.

The irony of the trolls here is delicious — doubly so because it’s lost on them …

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:42 PM

BeachBum on July 30, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Come on, this twosteptrots dude is pure comedy gold. If you can get over his being a total self-righteous a-hole, that is.

battalion on July 30, 2014 at 9:43 PM

I will try to dig up a link to a specific article on this for you all in a little while.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Don’t bother. We already know he got elected largely due to media, both in the pocket and 8 years of Bush bashing, pop-culture and white guilt.

Judge_Dredd on July 30, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Remember the Coffee Party?

Neither do I.

JCoulter on July 30, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Liberals buy cheesy post cards, Conservatives buy guns & ammo.

We all know how this is going to end.

Maybe OFA can dig some tunnels.

MichaelGabriel on July 30, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Option 3 is going to make the Community-Agitator-in-Chief hungry …

ShainS on July 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

If I had the time, I’d reproduce Option 3, and offer them for a dollar apiece on the internet, the money going to the SPCA, with the words on the card as follows:

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY”

[Dog Picture]

“EAT ME!”

TXUS on July 30, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Sharknado is a response to global warming…and flying sharks dropping from the sky can really happen.

I think I’ll add another dog to the herd, there’s just too many people out there who give me the creeps.

Bishop on July 30, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Did you know that sharks attack people because the Mossad trains them to do so? No really.

Bishop on July 30, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Did you know that sharks attack people because the Mossad trains them to do so? No really.

Bishop on July 30, 2014 at 10:19 PM

So Annoying Twerp’s love of sharks is like some kind of Stockholm Syndrome?

Judge_Dredd on July 30, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Option 1 has GREAT possibilities!

Shame all of those possibilities are lost on whomever at OFA created the *ahem!* barfday card…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 30, 2014 at 10:23 PM

Wait. You said Mossad. I was thinking PLO. Never mind. Carry on.

Judge_Dredd on July 30, 2014 at 10:30 PM

So.
Next up
Expected mass citizenship
A mix of Ebola panic
And the festering pool of lack of leadership in the World.

The bubbling class thinks of nothing now but the midterm

I kiss My Country.

seesalrun2 on July 30, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Here’s the definitive analysis of the kind of petty-bourgeois, pseudo-leftist “reform” politics, written by the man himself.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2008/10/pbop-o21.html

Excerpt:

To demand that every party member occupy himself with the philosophy of dialectics naturally would be lifeless pedantry. But a worker who has gone through the school of the class struggle gains from his own experience an inclination toward dialectical thinking. Even if unaware of this term, he readily accepts the method itself and its conclusions. With a petty bourgeois it is worse. There are of course petty-bourgeois elements organically linked with the workers, who go over to the proletarian point of view without an internal revolution. But these constitute an insignificant minority. The matter is quite different with the academically trained petty bourgeoisie. Their theoretical prejudices have already been given finished form at the school bench. Inasmuch as they succeeded in gaining a great deal of knowledge both useful and useless without the aid of the dialectic, they believe that they can continue excellently through life without it. In reality they dispense with the dialectic only to the extent they fail to check, to polish, and to sharpen theoretically their tools of thought, and to the extent that they fail to break practically from the narrow circle of their daily relationships. When thrown against great events they are easily lost and relapse again into petty-bourgeois ways of thinking.

This tendency revealed itself most clearly during the run up to the Iraq war. While the following article is a bit old, the analysis is as relevant today as it was the day it was written:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/02/left-f05.html

Cooper, Gitlin and Corn are hardened and conscious enemies of any mass movement opposed to American capitalism. This makes it impossible for them to oppose the war on Iraq, which it rooted in the imperialist world system and its contradictions. The frenzied character of the attacks by these three and others of their ilk on radical elements in the antiwar movement is the product of the objective situation itself, their resulting fear of a radicalized population and their own sense of isolation.

Events, meanwhile, are brilliantly confirming the Marxist critique of imperialism, which is reemerging politically and militarily in its purest and most violent form. The more this critique is vindicated, the more these essentially right-wing elements scramble to lend “their own” imperialist power a democratic and progressive coloration. The pathetic and transparent character of their sweatings is a measure of the impossibility of their assignment.

This one is also good.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/12/left-d11.html

Above all, the liberals, left-liberals and fake-socialists are fearful that the Obama experience is exposing before the American people the fraud that the Democratic Party in some way represents or is responsive to them. They fear not so much the Republican right, as the prospect of a popular movement of working people developing outside the Democratic Party and its agencies, including the trade unions.
They have good reason to fear. Not the least of their worries is the growing audience for the World Socialist Web Site and the socialist and revolutionary program of the Socialist Equality Party.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

The more this critique is vindicated, the more these essentially right-wing elements scramble to lend “their own” imperialist power a democratic and progressive coloration. The pathetic and transparent character of their sweatings is a measure of the impossibility of their assignment.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

Ah… sure… name me one Marxist, socialist or communist state or country that has succeeded?

Walter L. Newton on July 30, 2014 at 10:54 PM

Maybe OFA can dig some tunnels.

MichaelGabriel on July 30, 2014 at 10:06 PM

They never can: this would require real action.

landlines on July 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The long bread lines in the Soviet Union were proof all the Soviet subjects had enough money to eat.

John Hitchcock on July 31, 2014 at 2:07 AM

There is a difference in the reason for the lack of effectiveness of OFA and the national groups who claim Tea Party affiliation.

Structurally, OFA was one of the most effective organizations in the history of presidential politics. They were a major factor in getting a man without qualification or experience elected and in re-electing a President with a record of failure and deception at home and abroad. The job OFA did is equivalent to selling dog poop flavor ice cream and getting kids and parents alike to line up for it.

But it’s over, the Lightbringer dimmeth. And the people who had the actually skills and did those things have moved on to other organizations from where they will join some other campaign.

~~

Tea Party groups are ineffective because they are private controlled and were never formally designated by any actual grassroots voters or rally attendees. They just raise money off the name.

Most spend less than 5% of their income on political advertising or candidates. But they and their friends and families draw nice salaries, have sweet offices, and take great trips.

Donate directly to the candidates of your choice, but NEVER to those scam artists.

Adjoran on July 31, 2014 at 2:17 AM

Here’s the definitive analysis of the kind of petty-bourgeois, pseudo-leftist “reform” politics, written by the man himself.

Above all, the liberals, left-liberals and fake-socialists are fearful that the Obama experience is exposing before the American people the fraud that the Democratic Party in some way represents or is responsive to them. They fear not so much the Republican right, as the prospect of a popular movement of working people developing outside the Democratic Party and its agencies, including the trade unions.
They have good reason to fear. Not the least of their worries is the growing audience for the World Socialist Web Site and the socialist and revolutionary program of the Socialist Equality Party.

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

There’s not one serious scholar who doesn’t think that you’re a stark-raving dou¢hebag.

bigmacdaddy on July 31, 2014 at 6:26 AM

I think a card to the president that spells out the words of the acronym GFY would be a most special gift.

zoyclem on July 31, 2014 at 8:00 AM

I think a card to the president that spells out the words of the acronym GFY would be a most special gift.

zoyclem on July 31, 2014 at 8:00 AM

I was hoping I could change the “Happy Birthday from this cute dog,” to “Happy Birthday; please don’t eat me.”

bigmacdaddy on July 31, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Wow we have a true believer. It’s like finding a mastodon.

Ted Torgerson on July 31, 2014 at 8:31 AM

LOL. The purpose of OFA is NOT to get the people to change America from the bottom up. It’s not a grass roots organization in that sense. It’s purpose is rally the people around Obama to support HIM changing America from the top down. Basically, it’s a big fan club to encouraging the President to break the law by ignoring Congress.

RockinRickOwen on July 31, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Maybe OFA can dig some tunnels.

MichaelGabriel on July 30, 2014 at 10:06 PM

They never can: this would require real action.

landlines on July 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM

It would also require shovels. And that’s probably a step too far…….

GWB on July 31, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

If you told me 30 years ago that health care would be a “right”, that women would be allowed in direct military combat, that abortion was really just birth control or that two dudes could get married (I will write about the two chick thing in QOTD…Chuckle!) just to name a few………….I would have laughed out loud and told you that you were crazy and never going to happen in the good ole’ USofA. For better or worse I should add.

Point is that I started to Chuckle at some of your posts as I thought you were just a parody, but then I remembered how wrong I have been in my lifetime.

HonestLib on July 31, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Yo qiero taco pooch!

(sp?)

freedomfirst on July 31, 2014 at 9:13 AM

You forgot about OFA preventing gravity from evaporating, and keeping the massive supervolcano beneath Yellowstone from erupting.

Gosh, you loony raaaaacist extreme right wingers just refuse to give credit where it’s due.
Next you’ll be implying that Dear Leader (Allah’s Praise be unto His name) is ineffective and disengaged, or some such nonsense.

orangemtl on July 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Sorry, the Cult of Personality cannot work without the force of government action to back it. Basic principle of political philosophy, OFA.

Esaus Message on July 31, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Trotsky on July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

…broken record…

zoyclem on July 31, 2014 at 11:15 AM