The Obama team is trying to figure out how to harness the energy of their volunteers. It’s getting pent up already.
The most organized and well-funded campaign network in presidential history is eager to be mobilized again….if
someone would just give them an important cause and ambitious mission.
After all, that’s what drew them to join the ‘movement’ in the first
But beyond influencing the November election, Dillon
thought he was joining a new political movement that would be mobilized
for big goals—to end poverty or help distressed homeowners, or maybe
end U.S. reliance on oil.
So Dillon, a Florida real estate developer, was discouraged by the
suggestion that arrived by e-mail last week from Obama’s campaign
manager: “Excited about the much anticipated First Dog?” it read,
referring to the Obama daughters’ quest for a new puppy. “Support your
local animal shelter to give animals in your area a chance.”
They’ve got to work on this.
Amid Obama’s transition to power, a spirited and often
secretive debate has broken out among top campaign staff members over
how to refashion the broad network of motivated volunteers into a force
that can help Obama govern.
With 13 million e-mail addresses, hundreds of trained field
organizers and tens of thousands of neighborhood coordinators and phone
bank volunteers, the network is now one of the most valuable assets in
politics. Obama’s team may choose to deploy it to elect other
Democratic officials, or to lobby Congress for his toughest legislative
goals, or even to apply pressure on local and state policymakers across
Here’s an idea. How about really unifying the country and bringing about change by mobilizing such eager volunteers for bi-partisan (or non-partisan) efforts?
The disgruntled former Republic activist featured in the piece, who
no doubt represents a considerable portion of the ‘movement’, agrees.
…Dillon, a GOP anti-tax organizer in New York before
moving to St. Petersburg, Fla., said he hoped the grass-roots network
would be separated from the party.
“The notion that we are going to have to sanitize this thing
because, God forbid, we step on a local Democratic Party official’s
toes or step onto his turf is going to turn people like me off,” he
And what about the “idealism and energy” of the “Obama Catholics”
pretty much led by professor Douglas Kmiec in the race? Dan raises the
question in a thoughtful email sent along with this news story.
Will Kmiec use his influence now? Or does he still have influence with
Obama, to seriously discuss life issues?
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, author of Render unto Caesar, asked that same thing, right after the election.
A few people started musing about the possibility that Kmiec would
be rewarded for his support of Obama with the post of ambassador to the
Vatican. Not going to happen, say a few others….at the Vatican.