Grass roots organizing–it’s been the subject of ridicule, fear and loathing from the Right for having taken President Barack Obama from relative obscurity to the White House.

Now that President Obama’s campaign machine has been converted to an ongoing war machine for the Left, the White House and the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America has been dispatched by its Commander in Chief to take on the fight to nationalize America’s health care.

To understand the war machine that brought America “change,” “hope.” and a huge (as in $9 trillion) deficit, it helps to know what it’s like at the ground level.

Like a look from behind enemy lines on the Eastern Front, Sunday’s Washington Post ran a story following one of Organizing Against America’s generals which provides a good account life on the ground. Here are some excerpts:

The last three years had unfolded in an unrelenting series of what Jeremy Bird called Big Moments, and here began the latest on a sweltering afternoon earlier this month. Another rental car, another unfamiliar highway, another string of e-mails sent from his BlackBerry while driving 70 mph. Bird took a sip from his coffee and looked over at Dan Grandone, a co-worker riding in the passenger seat.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m running on adrenaline right now,” Bird said. “I love this feeling that we’re on the verge of something crucial.”

As deputy director of Organizing for America, a national network of Obama supporters, Bird was scheduled to speak with a group of volunteers who had been threatened at town halls, outshouted at local rallies and weakened by a general sense of post-campaign fatigue. With one 90-minute visit, Bird hoped to leave them confident, empowered and reenergized.

“We want these people to feel like they can control almost anything that happens in government,” said Bird, who had traveled from his office at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington to spend two days visiting volunteers across Wisconsin. “They should feel like there’s no barrier between the regular people out in the states and the power players in D.C.”

When Bird was named deputy director of OFA last year, he became the vanguard of much more than 13 million e-mail addresses collected from supporters during Obama’s campaign. He became one of the people most responsible for validating Obama’s campaign ethos: that grass-roots support can power government and shape legislation.

Since the organization sent an e-mail to its members asking for help on health care in May, more than 1.3 million have visited a phone bank, shared their personal health-care stories on the Internet or attended one of 12,000 local rallies. More than 150,000 people have given an average of $38 to OFA’s health-care campaign. This month, Obama spent an hour providing OFA members with “bullet points” for the debate during an Internet video.

“Usually, when a campaign ends, everybody is exhausted and people just go their separate ways,” Bird told the volunteers assembled in Racine. “But we knew from the beginning that this could be different.”

Bird and other top Obama operatives had decided as much during the first days after the election, when they began conceptualizing OFA at a conference held in Chicago. They polled thousands of Obama volunteers through a sequence of surveys and conference calls and sought advice from David
Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s campaign. By the time of Obama’s inauguration, Bird and OFA Director Mitch Stewart had settled on a basic vision: OFA would get by with limited staff by relying on volunteers who would work as many as 30 hours a week to ensure grass-roots activity in each U.S. voting precinct.

Read entire article here

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Filed under Barack Obama, Organizing Against America, Organizing for America

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