OFA: Organizing for the Agenda

If you're like me, you're wondering what we can do to support the President we elected. And it feels very strange to think that advocacy and activism might result in real change rather than just preventing bad things from happening. I’ve been watching the developing relationship between the White House, the DNC, Organizing for America, and local organizing activities. All of that inspired me to think about what role BlueNC should play during an Obama presidency.

OFA Coming To Town
When Gov. Kaine was in Durham for the J-J dinner, word spread that Organizing for America will be hiring staff in all 50 states. A North Carolina director should be on board soon, and North Carolina is one of about 15 states that will be targeted for additional support. Expect to see additional staff and field offices around the state.

Local Organizing Continues
To capitalize on a continued national investment in North Carolina, local groups need to keep organizing in support of a progressive agenda. In Orange and Durham counties, we’re doing just that. Durham for Obama (DFO) and the Orange County Campaign for Change (OC3) continue to organize and work in support of the president’s agenda.

Drawing on the activism of the campaign, these local organizations continue to work on the major policy initiatives that the President is emphasizing (education, energy, health care). Working committees have been formed to help organize around each issue. They will pursue a three-step strategy:
Education- OFA is already providing tools and information on each issue. Local activists need to handle distribution.
Activation - Use campaign contacts and lists to continue putting people to work in support of the policy agenda.
Empowerment - Take action on the local level. Plan public events with a good media angle. Organize canvasses and other opportunities for direct voter contact. Write letters to the editor. BLOG!

Who Will Write the Story?
The concrete challenge for local organizers is to follow in the footsteps of the campaign, when local activism wrote the story that swept Obama to victory. In a few months there will be a huge health care debate in this country. Will the story be about congressional committee deliberations or about people across America demanding health care reform? If it’s the former, reform is bound to fail. But if people in local communities create pressure through media and direct pressure on Congress, we will have the power to promote change.

Congress and the Administration both need to be held accountable by the public for the proposed agenda. Without continued action on the ground, the government reform promise brought forth by a community-organizer President may be lost.

BlueNC's Role
I think there are two great risks to the Obama agenda:
1. People will rely on the Administration to do everything.
2. We need to do so much so fast.

To overcome those challenges, we need communication mechanisms that organize people and accelerate change efforts. BlueNC is perfect for both.

I'd love to see local organizing highlighted on the site regularly. If someone sponsors a "Green Tea Party" in support of health care reform (h/t to an OC3 member for the idea), then it needs to be highlighted on our site. BlueNC coverage of the “A New Way Forward” event in Raleigh is a great example.

At the Blogger Bash, Steve Harrison inspired me to think more deeply about how BlueNC can also be an accelerator. Let's say North Carolina wants to be a leader in green energy. BlueNC could be a place to profile the work that's supporting this in the state. The progressive thinkers in this area could blog here as a way to craft and share their ideas. To increase the speed of change, powerful information has to be distributed quickly and widely.

When I was at the Democratic National Convention and videoblogging for BlueNC, I was amazed at how many people told me they read this site - from activists to members of Congress. Like everyone in the progressive tent, we have to figure out what it means to be part of power structure. It's a great challenge that I hope our community will take up.

Comments

I'd like to add "keeping them honest" to the BlueNC

contribution. I'm getting pretty unhappy about contributing tp, working for and voting for Democrats who then turn away from their constituents. For example, last week Kay Hagan voted against Bernie Sanders amendment (A1062) to HR 627 that would have outlawed usurious rates for credit card companies.

Maybe I missed something in the construct of the amendment. If not, I can't imagine any constituent (Democratic or Republican) calling and begging Senator Hagan to please let the Credit card companies continue to screw them.

What's the deal? Where's the stink? I wrote her but chances are I'll get a left-over Dole form letter thanking me for my interest in XYZ and that she'll certainly keep my concerns in mind (when she votes to screw us again).

Stan Bozarth