Another One Bites the Dust
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")
Fellow blogger Marta Evry is a good friend of mine and great activist writing at Venice for Change. She is an Emmy-nominated film editor and longtime Obama supporter who has done tremendous work with the , particularly on their California Closed video. She has had much more patience with the Obama Administration than I have, and was much more deeply involved with Obama for America/Organizing for America than I was as a simple volunteer precinct captain and caucus captain in the 2008 Democratic Primary, and precinct captain in the general election.
But even she has reached her breaking point:
OFA's Contempt For The Left: It's Not A Bug, It's A Feature
So the interwebs were all a-Twitter when this came over the transom today:
Obama Campaign Staffer Sends Out Email Bashing Paul Krugman And 'Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere'
After reposting the Huffington Post story I wrote about earlier, Marta concludes:
A few hours later, an Obama campaign spokesman, Katie Hogan, tried to put some distance between OFA and the staffer, “The views expressed in this email do not represent the views of the campaign.”
Which is all very well and good, but here's the deal - whether it was Rahm Emanuel calling progressive organizations "fucking retarded", Robert Gibbs castigating "the professional left" or Obama himself, who lashed out at vocal critics who thought he gave too much away on the tax cut deal, saying "this is the public option all over again" - Mr. Sandoval's email represented exactly what the views of the campaign are.
Closer to home, I reported on this blog how an OFA staffer in Southern California posted a story on their Facebook wall comparing liberals critical of the Obama tax deal to Tea Party members. Minutes later, in an epic example of #organizerfail, the same OFA staffer puts out an "ask" for volunteers to come out to California headquarters to phone bank...
Look, I know a number of great, dedicated OFA staffers, but the organization as a whole has degenerated from a powerful way for the grassroots to create real social change to a cheerleading, insular shell - it's only purpose to redirect that energy into Obama's next campaign. The staffer might not speak for OFA, but he certainly is reflecting the prevalent attitude coming from Washington.
In 2008, I took a six-month unpaid leave of absence to work on the Obama campaign. In fact, I was a Regional Field Director in Southern California. I also maxed out my campaign donations - the first time I've ever done that in my life.
Not in 2012. Next year, I'll be turning my focus on retaking the House, keeping the Senate, and electing good Democrats in local races.
I highly recommend many of you do the same.
It's true that many online progressives have been fed up with the Obama Administration for some time now. That's been apparent all over the liberal blogosphere. But in fairness to the Administration's defenders, most of those folks were never the types to do the grunt work of attending meetings, licking envelopes, running data scanners, managing difficult personalities, taking care of volunteers, and especially phonebanking and walking door to door in rain, snow and blazing sun talking to strangers while carrying campaign literature anyway. It's easy to vituperate meaningless insults into a an online ether. It's a lot harder to herd cats thanklessly in an unpaid capacity in a hectic organization, and do the boring hard work that it takes to push Democrats to victory, and conservatives into electoral oblivion.
But the Administration is seriously whistling past the graveyard at this point. They are reaching a tipping point. If folks like Marta Evry and I are ready to hop off the train, it's not just angry cheetos-munching bloggers they're going to lose. They're going to lose the activist base that powered them to victory in 2008. If they think it's going to come back just out of fear of Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry, they're sorely mistaken.
I have crazy Republicans in my own backyard who terrify me, too--and getting rid of them will actually make a more immediate impact in my county, my state, and my personal life. I don't have to lift a finger to help the President in order to help the Democratic Party, and neither do folks like Marta. I won't be traveling to Nevada or Arizona for the President's re-election campaign like I did in 2008. I'll be sticking in my own California backyard, helping local progressive Democrats win office. People whose positions and negotiation styles I know I can count on. People who can make progressive dreams come true in California, since it has become abundantly clear they will not come true in Washington, D.C. Not even with 60 Democratic Senators and a big majority in the House.
And I know I'm not alone in this. If the Administration wants to take a bet that there aren't enough people like me and Marta out there to make a difference to their field campaign, they're free to do so.
But it would be a bad bet.