Posts Tagged ‘grass-roots’

How Obama is changing the Democrats

January 17, 2009

This is a cool article I read from New York Magazine about how Obama is very much an Independent, both impressive and alarming to different groups on both the right and the left.  Due to his renown use of the Internet to create a grass-roots following of his own, Obama is the rare president who can slightly circumvent Congress and get his supporters, who are also someone’s Congressional constituent, to apply pressure on Capital Hill to support Obama’s proposals.

The article explains it pretty well, but it is going to be exciting to see how Obama’s operation meshes with the DNC and whether there’ll be friction.  Or, my hope, that the DNC will be defined by Obama’s new style and this will serve as a general realignment or redefinition of the Democratic party—-into something far more pragmatic (while still progressive) and contemporary.  ♦Here are some excerpts♦

With the selection last week of Obama’s friend, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, to chair the party, the question has more or less been answered: Much of the campaign’s grassroots operation, I’m told, will reside at the DNC. What Obama is wagering is that, with some clever branding (read camouflage), the fealty of his non-Democratic followers to him personally will overcome whatever nausea they experience owing to the partisan affiliation. And though the move has been interpreted as a sign of Obama’s empowering the DNC by having it absorb the network, I suspect that the opposite may happen. The Obama network—with its greater resources and zeal—may effectively absorb the party.

In the shorter term, it’s clear what Obama intends to do with his new machine: put it to work lobbying on behalf of his legislative agenda. Around the country, countless Obamaphiles are itching to pummel Capitol Hill with e-mail or show up at congressional town meetings. Presidents often attempt to go over the heads of Congress to the voters, but never before has one directly enlisted them to pressure their elected representatives, especially those of his own party. “Obama and his political operation have assets that no president has ever had before,” says Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum. “We have no previous model for this—it’s completely new.”

(sorry this is post is turning into a long one…I just couldn’t bring myself scrap this last excerpt.  get your scroll on)

For Obama, the implications of this extraordinary degree of political security are enormous. It frees him from kowtowing to either the left or the right, to set about redefining the party in his own terms. Hardly anyone doubts that the moment for such a recasting is at hand—though they tend to imagine the future simply as an updated version of the past….“It’s 2009, and what Obama has done is create a redirect of the entire political culture—new media, new demographics, new electoral map, a whole new set of governing challenges that will be the basis of the next 20 or 30 years. He’s gonna be a critical piece of that arc. And it’s not a restoration. It’s a period of reinvention.”

Unless, of course, it isn’t. No great feat of imagination is needed to see how the whole project could end in tears. The stimulus fails. Things continue to fall apart. A new Great Depression ensues. And Obama is blamed and soon enough finds himself out on the speaking circuit with pal (ahem) Bill Clinton.

Update: NYT examines some poll results that suggest optimism and good news for Obama: Americans are “prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday”