Oh, Those Silly, Frivolous Community Organizers!
Isn’t it time to say it? As noted here, I supported John McCain in 2000 and even today my own views on the war (unlike some who write here on TMV) are probably closer to his than to Barack Obama’s. When I vote, I take a deep breath and often surprise myself by my own vote on Election Day as I make one final calculation.
But I’m finding out in emails and conversations — and reading a host of web blogs — that not a few number of people were turned off like me by a characteristic of last night’s Republican convention: the sudden suggestion that community organizers are somehow subjects of derision who indulge in worthless activity.
Not since I worked as a stringer in the Newsweek Madrid news bureau in September 1975 and heard then Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco warn about a vast masonic conspiracy (he died shortly after, most likely before he could warn of the Rotary Club and Elk conspiracy) has there been such a jarring definition of a group. (Franco actually had banned Freemasonry in 1940..)
It’s a theme that lingers from the convention. Perhaps it’s because as a journalist working on newspapers in Wichita, KS and San Diego, CA I interviewed MANY community organizers over the years. And despite their political views or group, I had great respect for the long hours they worked, the skills required to do what they needed to do effectively, their direct contact in working with people who couldn’t afford lobbyists, and their dedication to helping people when political parties and/or government failed or were shockingly deficient.
It’s no secret why suddenly here in 2008 — out of the blue — it’s now being implied that community organizers are silly, ineffectual people, wasting their time in thumb-twiddling activities that have no productive meaning or responsibilities:
It’s a way to turn an Obama positive into a negative by couching it in negative terms. That sends out the signal to supporters that it’s a negative and will be picked up by supporters, and repeated verbally and in writing. Turning a positive into a negative is a standard late 20th century political ploy perfected by Karl Rove, who is famous for it.
Forget your political affiliation for a second. Look at this diary on Daily Kos (sent to me by a reader) that recaps some of these people who wasted their time in such a trivial activity. It’s not about Democrats and Republicans but about who some of these people were.
It’s likely you know quite a few of them and respect them for what they did.
But respect for that kind of activity is suddenly out the window because it’s political season and our campaigns are increasingly about showing less and less respect in an effort to divide, define and rule.