Decline and Fall

Decline and fall?

It’s that old question: when the aggressors — the criminals — use little nukes on you, do you go get the biggest nuke available to wipe the crooks out?

President Obama’s political team is fanning out across the country in pursuit of an ambitious goal: raising $50 million to convert his re-election campaign into a powerhouse national advocacy network, a sum that would rank the new group as one of Washington’s biggest lobbying operations.

But the rebooted campaign, known as Organizing for Action, has plunged the president and his aides into a campaign finance limbo with few clear rules, ample potential for influence-peddling, and no real precedent in national politics. …NYT

Some see this as a dangerous move.

On the other hand, what’s the difference between defending the nation in the face of an internal threat from people who want to destroy the democratic system in ways reminiscent of the alleged goals of the “communists” of the post-war era? The Republicans have spent years trying to separate Americans from their democracy in an attempt to turn America into an authoritarian plutocracy.

What is “Organize for Action” up to?

The goal is to harness those resources in support of Mr. Obama’s second-term policy priorities, including efforts to curb gun violence and climate change and overhaul immigration procedures. Those efforts began Friday, when thousands of Obama supporters were deployed through more than 80 Congressional districts around the country to rally outside lawmakers’ offices, hold vigils and bombard Congress with e-mails and phone calls urging members to support stricter background checks for gun buyers.

“There are wins we can have on guns and immigration,” Jon Carson, the group’s new executive director, told prospective donors on a conference call on Wednesday, according to people who participated. “We have to change the conventional wisdom on those issues.”…NYT

Current firearm and immigration policies have been set, for the most part, by corporate interests. Lobbies for both issues want control over the laws governing the regulation of both guns and immigration. But these are matters that belong to “deciders” and the deciders should not be the profiteers, as they were during the Bush administration, but the voters. Americans have noticed that the Republicans have tried every dodge over time to limit voting.

As for the way Organize for Action will operate:

… It is not bound by federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns. In their place, the new group will self-regulate.
Officials said it would voluntarily disclose the names of large donors every few months and would not ask administration personnel to solicit money, though Obama aides will probably appear at some events….

… “It just smells,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause, which advocates tighter regulation of campaign money. “The president is setting a very bad model setting up this organization.” ...NYT

It’s using the same model as the Sierra Club and the NRA, by the way. We’re looking at irony piled upon irony. The “smell” comes from its relationship with the White House. Mind you, the relationship between earlier White Houses as well as decades of members of Congress and the NRA could hardly be called less close and a lot smellier.

Organizing for Action has precedents among governors. The Times names both Christie and Cuomo as beneficiaries of similar organizations.

So have the Democrats finally found their own Karl Rove? Not so much.

Organizing for Action has also promised to steer clear of electoral politics, unlike the politically active nonprofit groups like the right-leaning Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and Americans for Prosperity. Such groups spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising during the recent election campaign season, ostensibly for issue advocacy, spurring a wave of lawsuits, ethics complaints from campaign watchdogs and criticism from Mr. Obama himself.

But the distinction between campaigning and issue advocacy may be hard for Organizing for Action to maintain in the prelude to the 2014 elections, especially if it continues its emphasis on pressing lawmakers on delicate issues like immigration and guns….NYT

Maybe. But sauce for the goose … sauce for the gander.

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Signs of activism? Only in a small way, so far.

A call by a pro-Obama advocacy group for a “Day of Action” to promote stricter gun laws drew about 30 people Friday morning to a vigil outside the headquarters of the National Rifle Assn., where they held placards denouncing the gun lobby’s opposition to new regulation. …

… The small turnout underscores one of the challenges facing Organizing for Action as it gears up its efforts to promote Obama’s legislative agenda. The group, set up by top advisors to the president, is relying heavily on local volunteers to sustain its work. It is just beginning the process of hiring staff, so Friday’s events were put together by supporters in individual communities, without the databases or technological tools they had access to during the campaign. Those will eventually be made available to local OFA chapters that raise money to lease them. ...LATimes

And another from New York:

New Yorker Alan Howard is helping organize a candlelight vigil Friday evening on Staten Island to draw the attention of Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. Howard, 72, volunteered for Obama’s first campaign and worked on the re-election. He said he hasn’t slowed down since the election, juggling about 30 hours a week of OFA volunteer activities with his work as a consultant to international labor rights groups.

“What’s we’re really working at is transforming that coalition that elected Obama into a movement,” he said. “That’s a very exciting prospect for many of us.” …”USAToday

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

  

Author: PRAIRIE WEATHER

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2 Comments

  1. “Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.”
    Politics as usual POB.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. I share the concerns dd mentioned, yet I also understand the need to counter the aforementioned destructive activities:

    The Republicans have spent years trying to separate Americans from their democracy in an attempt to turn America into an authoritarian plutocracy.

    All that chipping away at democracy and undermining the faith people used to have in “government” needs to be met with more than head shaking and reminiscing about how things used to be. That said, democrats aren’t immune to abuses of power either.

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