Today in Washington, D.C., major donors to the Obama campaign are meeting with the president at a $50,000 per person fundraiser on behalf of the ongoing campaign’s new so-called “grassroots” organization, Organizing for Action. It is officially explained as follows:
A nonprofit organization established to support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. OFA will advocate for these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse points to speak out for speedy passage and effective implementation of this program, including gun control, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform. In addition, OFA will encourage the formation of chapters that will be dedicated at the grassroots level to this program, but also committed to identifying and working progressive change on a range of issues at the state and local level.
The official statement is as non-threatening as possible, hiding what is particularly unique and different about this group. Those visiting its website will not be made aware that no American president has ever put together a group such as this.
In essence, it is the campaign organization continuing on after the last election, now focused on promoting outside pressure towards a left turn by the nation.
The liberal Huffington Post terms it “a pro-Obama group positioned as progressive answer to Karl Rove,” but that is not entirely accurate. Rove’s operation is a top-down, donor-driven group that, for example, has recently taken out ads against actress Ashley Judd to harm her chances to get the Democratic nomination should she decide to run against Mitch McConnell in the next Kentucky Senate race.
The OFA, on the other hand, is much more than a group hoping to influence the choice of a candidate in a race and to be a source of funding for ads and a campaign. It is a group more akin to the Alinskyite community organizing force with which young Obama cut his teeth, an organization meant to mobilize the Left to pressure for things like “taxing the rich” via organizing and actions such as those the now-defunct ACORN used to engage in.
That is why it purports to be non-partisan. It wants outside pressure to push the Democratic Party — whose candidates it inevitably will support — to back the most left-wing programs put forth. As the article by Samuel Jacobs at Huffington Post makes clear, that means “attacking the influence of special interest money in politics.” Of course, this excludes special interests like big pharma, with whom Obama has cut a deal in exchange for getting their support of Obamacare.
The group claims it will accept funds from unions, but not from corporations. That does not imply that corporate CEOs — say, green energy CEOs — will not give large amounts personally.
The group pledges to eventually name all donors who have given over $250, and we can be certain that George Soros and others like him will be found among the list.
Let us take the group’s claim at face value — that it exists primarily to get people to knock on doors “to advocate for the passage of the president’s legislation,” such as universal background checks for potential gun owners. It is therefore using campaign tactics to gather support for legislation favored by the White House, meant to hopefully draw out votes in areas where either Republicans or blue-dog Democrats dominate, so they can be defeated in coming congressional races.
More telling is a statement from an unnamed Obama organizer, who said that it will be the equivalent of a left-wing National Rifle Association, a “group for the left that has the power to cajole lawmakers into toeing the progressive line.”
The NRA, however, is a single-issue group — much like pro-abortion groups on the political left.
OFA, which hopes to continue functioning after the Obama administration comes to an end and is not tied formally to the Democratic Party, is meant to fulfill what many on the Left have been calling for.
In making their case, the analogy they draw is from the early New Deal and the first years of FDR’s presidency. Roosevelt, they point out, started in office advocating a conservative program, having pledged deficit reduction and minor fixes for an economy that had crashed. But after major pressure from the newly formed CIO — which led radical sit-down strikes and organized unskilled workers through industrial America — and combined with the pressure exerted by radicals of various stripes including Communists and socialists, FDR was forced to commence with the Second New Deal. It was only then, they argued, that the president instituted the far-reaching, more extensive welfare state measures that the Left had been calling for.
The Left is therefore trying to create this strategy anew, in far different times than the 1930s. The major difference is that the union movement is almost dead. Most industry is not organized, and the only gains for the AFL-CIO come from government employee unions, quite a different thing than unions that worked on behalf of unskilled industrial workers whose jobs were in heavy industry. Moreover, some of the Left constituency is at odds with labor, the most obvious example being the conflict between the labor movement and the environmentalists on such issues as the Keystone pipeline, which labor favors and the green movements want killed.
Never in our recent past has the Left tried to organize for its program from the top-down via a group created out of the last presidential campaign and run by former White House staffers, and endorsed by those still in the administration — including the president.
The next president of the United States will not be a community organizer who comes from that particular background. It is rather unlikely that four years from now Organizing for Action will still be around. Of course, as a former chief executive of our country, Barack Obama might choose to become the new head of OFA, and then try to rally his old troops on behalf of what becomes the standard bearer for the Left in America. Indeed, that might be just what he has in mind.