Today, President Barack Obama is coming to Philly, where at least three groups are planning to greet him with a protest. Two of them are liberal — which is an interesting footnote in a larger story about how some liberals are growing more and more disillusioned with Obama, especially over issues like immigration, war and financial reform.
AIDS activists ACT UP Philly will be rallying against Obama, who is coming to Philly to fundraise, due to anticipated cuts in HIV/AIDS funding. (The group will also be protesting against Mayor Michael Nutter — who is expected to join Obama at a fundraiser at the Hyatt at the Bellevue — to demand funding for housing for people with AIDS.)
DREAM activists — who organize on behald of undocumented immigrant students — will rally for their own cause, as well to shake a fist at the federal government's Secure Communities program and its deportation of local Cambodians (whose experience was recently written about by City Paper).
And the Independence Hall Tea Party Association will be giving a finger to the "Obama economy," and possibly "showcase the unemployed" — which, they note on their Facebook page, is a "[lesson] learned from the left."
Should be interesting to see them side-by-side.
|Â© Scott Weiner|
|You lookin' at me?|
By now, you know all about how Germantown-ians booed â really booed â Mayor Nutter during yesterday's "Moving America Forward" rally. And how President Obama had a streaker to dash balls-out through the crowd. No respect I tell you. But did you know that Joe Biden does a good Robert DeNiro âyou looking at me?â impersonation (above) or that Dem rep Bob Brady (there, along with Joe Sestak, Sen. Bob Casey Jr., Gov. Rendell; and Mayor Nutter) looks solid in Phillies print (after the jump)? My man, photog Scott Weiner kept the proof. Loogout for more WHOWHATWHERE stuff when Ice and Ice Illustrated hit on Thursday.
|Â© Scott Weiner|
|Â© Scott Weiner|
|Bob Brady (top), The Roots (above)|
A funny thing happened last night. For months I've been looking everywhere for this thing that I lost. I turned over seat cushions, rifled through drawers, upended furniture. Then I turned on Hulu and there it was â the president that I voted for last November, the guy for whom I spent hours and hours walking around West Philly knocking on doors, and whose victory my neighborhood celebrated with an all-hours, bongo-banging, community-bridging, trolley-stopping Baltimore Avenue rager.
Man, I fucking looked everywhere for that guy!
It was good to see him again, and if there's one thing you can take away from last night's State of the Union, it's that Barack Obama gives good speech. If he were president of a debating society, he'd have 90% approval ratings. I'd pay to watch the guy read out of the phone book. And if he could govern by teleprompter, I'd already be using my public insurance option.
Unfortunately, when he steps away from the podium, Obama seems inclined to leave governance in the stone hands of his largely useless party leaders, who have made such a mess of health care reform that they are in danger of losing their enormous congressional majorities this fall. Mistake one was clearly investing his political capital with Harry Reid's investment firm, which turned around and gambled the principal on Joe Lieberman's Connecticut Default Swaps.
Obama's problem so far is that he has governed in a way that pleases effectively no one â not this base, not centrists (who don't like the health care bill), and certainly not conservatives. In fairness, Obama could personally sign every piece of the official GOP platform into law, and the Fox News crowd would still hate him and ask to see his birth certificate every few minutes.
Last night was Obama's attempt to right the ship â to reassure the base that the administration's progressive goals remain in sight, and to regain the trust of centrists put off by the Landrieu Purchase and other unsavory elements of health care reform. And at its best, Obama's speech was a forceful defense of his administration's policies.
He defended the bank bailout while still holding the titans of Wall Street to account for their role in the financial crisis. "If these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need." He defended a foreign policy increasingly unpopular with his party's base. Doing so unapologetically can only win him admiration even from those who disagree with the policies.
The only moment anyone really cared about, in the wake of the Martha Coakley fiasco, came when Obama turned to health care. Observers expected him to retreat from the bill, at least a little bit, to give himself and his party some political breathing room. But instead he launched a full-throated defense of the reform on the table, and called on Congress to pass it. "Do not walk away from reform,â he told the attendant legislators. He told the crowd of GOP obstructionists and nihilists that if they had a better idea, they were welcome to bring it to the table.
If only he could have called out Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman by name, the two disgusting insurance company sycophants more responsible than anyone else for derailing reform, who were conveniently seated next to each other in what one commentator called "the axis of weasel.â Certain niceties, alas, had to be observed.
In perhaps the finest moment of the speech, he told Congress, "To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills.â It was a refreshing signal that we won't be getting Bill Clinton's second term â school uniforms, blowjob scandals, and the kind of vanilla presidency that gets you 65% approval ratings without achieving a single damn thing.
One feeling you get from all this, though, is that the guy's going to have to stop putting out political brushfires with speech water. It's one thing to right the campaign ship with a well-time and thoughtful speech, as Obama did with the Reverend Wright affair. It's another to confuse speechmaking with policymaking, or to believe that one can effectively substitute for the other.
In other words, actions twist more arms in the Democratic caucus than words. The problem with the health care bill isn't that Obama isn't delivering good enough speeches, it's that reform was left out in the cornfield like a scarecrow, and predictably got picked at.
So if last night was Obama rushing out of the White House with a shotgun to scare away the birds, that would be awesome. But along with a number of increasingly disillusioned supporters, l'll believe it when I see it.
Want to watch the State of the Union with other people? Of course you do, this shii is gonna be scarier than a Wes Craven flick.
Here's a link to watch parties in the area.
Below is a more specific invite to those in the Center or South Philly area.
Do you have plans to watch President Obama's State of the Union address tonight?
Local volunteers are organizing an OFA Watch Party in Philadelphia -- and you're invited.
We know this is a huge moment for our country, and in tonight's speech President Obama will lay out his vision for the way forward. Join us to watch with fellow OFA supporters, huddle on the phone with former campaign manager and White House advisor David Plouffe, and plan out next steps together.
Can you come tonight? Click here to RSVP.
Here are the details:
What: State of the Union Watch Party
Where: 703 S. 5th St.,
When: Wednesday, January 27th
Want to attend a different Watch Party? Click here to search for other events near you.
Hope you can join us,
Organizing for America
Joe Sestak on Mass. election, health care, the filibuster, American democracy and the Democratic Party's loathesome leadership: "I won't sacrifice good policy at the altar of bipartisanship."
The thing about Rep. Joe Sestak is, he talks fast. Particularly when he gets worked up. And he was, in fact, worked up. And when he calls your office, without warning, and you have no chance to rig up some sort of recording contraption, you have to scribble down as much as you can, then go back and try to interpret your own chickenscratch/shorthand later. But anyway. I spent about 20 minutes this morning talking with the congressman/senate candidate "call me Joe" about, well, a bunch of things, but all centered around the idea of the Democrats' relative ineffectiveness to get things done, and what he thinks should be done, both short and long term, about the Senate's structural flaws namely, the idea that, despite an 18-seat majority in the upper house, and 78-seat majority in the lower house, and control of the White House, Democrats still have to bend over backwards to accommodate the likes of Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and now, Cosmo centerfold Scott Brown to get a universal health care package through is, for lack of a better word, preposterous.
This is probably the best visual representation of the ridiculousness of the current system I've seen:
But before we get to the interview, take a minute and go read this. I'll wait.
For those of you who don't have an hour or so to reading one of those 8,000-word essays The Atlantic is so famous for, here's the part Sestak wanted me to see when he cited the piece, repeatedly, during our conversation (I'm quoting in more length that I usually would for someone else's work, so please clink the link above and give James Fallows the page view; good journalism and writing should be rewarded):
Every system strives toward durability, but as with human aging, longevity has a cost. The late economist Mancur Olson laid out the consequences of institutional aging in his 1982 book, The Rise and Decline of Nations. Year by year, he said, special-interest groups inevitably take bite after tiny bite out of the total national wealth. They do so through tax breaks, special appropriations, what we now call legislative "earmarks,â and other favors that are all easier to initiate than to cut off. No single nibble is that dramatic or burdensome, but over the decades they threaten to convert any stable democracy into a big, inefficient, favor-ridden state. In 1994, Jonathan Rauch updated Olson's analysis and called this enfeebling pattern "demosclerosis,â in a book of that name. He defined the problem as "government's progressive loss of the ability to adapt,â a process "like hardening of the arteries, which builds up stealthily over many years.â
We are now 200-plus years past Jefferson's wish for permanent revolution and nearly 30 past Olson's warning, with that much more buildup of systemic plaque and of structural distortions, too. When the U.S. Senate was created, the most populous state, Virginia, had 10 times as many people as the least populous, Delaware. Giving them the same two votes in the Senate was part of the intricate compromise over regional, economic, and slave-state/free-state interests that went into the Constitution. Now the most populous state, California, has 69 times as many people as the least populous, Wyoming, yet they have the same two votes in the Senate. A similarly inflexible business organization would still have a major Whale Oil Division; a military unit would be mainly fusiliers and cavalry. No one would propose such a system in a constitution written today, but without a revolution, it's unchangeable. Similarly, since it takes 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster on controversial legislation, 41 votes is in effect a blocking minority. States that together hold about 12 percent of the U.S. population can provide that many Senate votes. This converts the Senate from the "saucerâ George Washington called it, in which scalding ideas from the more temperamental House might "cool,â into a deep freeze and a dead weight.
The Senate's then-famous "Gang of Six,â which controlled crucial aspects of last year's proposed health-care legislation, came from states that together held about 3 percent of the total U.S. population; 97 percent of the public lives in states not included in that group. (Just to round this out, more than half of all Americans live in the 10 most populous states which together account for 20 of the Senate's 100 votes.) "The Senate is full of ârotten boroughs,'â said James Galbraith, of the University of Texas, referring to the underpopulated constituencies in Parliament before the British reforms of 1832. "We'd be better off with a House of Lords.â
The decades-long bipartisan conspiracy to gerrymander both state and federal electoral districts doesn't help. More and more legislative seats are "safeâ for one party or the other; fewer and fewer politicians have any reason to appeal to the center or to the other side. In a National Affairs article, "Who Killed California?,â Troy Senik pointed out that 153 state or federal positions in California were at stake in the 2004 election. Not a single one changed party. This was an early and extreme illustration of a national trend.
On rereading Mancur Olson's book now, I was struck by its relative innocence. Thinking as an economist, Olson regarded the worst outcome as an America that was poorer than it could otherwise be. But since the time of his book, the gospel of "adapt or dieâ has spread from West Point to the corporate world (by chance, Olson's Rise and Decline was published within weeks of the hugely influential business book In Search of Excellence ), with the idea that rigid institutions inevitably fail. "I don't think that America's political system is equal to the tasks before us,â Dick Lamm, a former three-term governor of Colorado, told me in Denver. "It is interesting that in 1900 there were very few democracies and now there are a lot, but they're nearly all parliamentary democracies. I'm not sure we picked the right form. Ours is great for distributing benefits but has become weak at facing problems. I know the power of American rejuvenation, but if I had to bet, it would be 60â40 that we're in a cycle of decline.â
What I have been calling "going to hellâ really means a failure to adapt: increasing difficulty in focusing on issues beyond the immediate news cycle, and an increasing gap between the real challenges and opportunities of the time and our attention, resources, and best efforts. Here are symptoms people have mentioned to me:
â¢ In their book on effective government, William Eggers and John O'Leary quote a former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, Michael Keeley, on why the city is out of control. "Think of city government as a big bus,â he told them. "The bus is divided into different sections with different constituencies: labor, the city council, the mayor, interest groups, and contractors. Every seat is equipped with a brake, so lots of people can stop the bus anytime. The problem is that this makes the bus undrivable.â
For that same book, Eggers and O'Leary surveyed members of the National Academy of Public Administration, a counterpart of the National Academy of Sciences for public managers. Sixty-eight percent of those who responded said that the government was "less likely to successfully execute projects than at any time in the past.â
Essentially, the argument here is that the institutions of American polity have grown structurally deficient, as politicians cater to special interests and ignore the public good, a la Olson. You could add to it the increasing polarization and cleavages of the two major parties (one of the best, and newest explanations I've read is here), and the dysfunction and myriad of problems that often come alongside populist movements (this thought-provoking book, by former Chestnut Hill College historian John Lukacs, a self-described reactionary who although I fundamentally disagree with his take on rights and liberties lays out a strong case that populist movements are dangerous and short-sighted; it's certainly a view the Founding Fathers shared) and you've got a recipe for a slow, but uncontrollable, burn. Or maybe not. As the Fallows piece notes, predictions of doom and gloom are part and parcel of the American experience, and hey, we're still here.
But, on the other hand, there's the reality that health care reform, so desperately needed and a central plank of Obama's 2008 campaign you know, the one in which he won some 70 million votes is about to being watered down because the Democrats only control 59 percent of the Senate, and because of an anachronistic rule that has been used and abused by the Republican minority in an unprecedented manner, they know have to beg for scraps from the likes of Mitch McConnell.
Last night, I put my thoughts into an e-mail to Sestak's press office, asking for his take on health care strategy and cloture rules. This morning, the congressman gave me an (unexpected) call. Below, I'm going to reconstruct this conversation to the best of my ability. Sestak's not quite signing on to junking the old Senate rules, but, he says, he's thinking about it, in part because of the Fallows piece, and in part because of the inordinate power the current system allots to egomaniacal dickbags (my words, not his) like Lieberman.
"I've said for a long time, we don't need to reform America. We need to reform the Senate," he says.
The Massachusetts election, he continues, wasn't a rebuke to Democrats or an embrace of Republicans, but rather, "the same evidence that I saw in my 67-county tour [of Pennsylvania] in July. People don't trust Washington." Particularly, he suggests, it's not so-much about policies themselves so much as the nature of the place, an environment where Ben Nelson can secure goodies for his home state in exchange for his vote, or of course he brings this up Arlen Specter's past votes as a Republicans are ignored the second he switches jerseys.
There is, as Sestak sees it, no inherent faith in Congress; consequently, as legislation as necessarily complicated as health care reform becomes bogged down in a morass of giveaways and special favors, this distrust is exacerbated into a sea of populist (and perhaps deserved) anger at the powers that be. And then you get Massachusetts. (It's worth noting, as Sestak does, that the Mass. election was hardly a mandate for Democrats to go slower on health care. In fact, a large majority of Obama voters who pulled the lever for Scott Brown, polling shows, favors the public option.)
In Sestak's words, the problem is, "Washington didn't change." Asked about what he thinks the Dems should do to push HCR now, Sestak offers something of a non-answer: "I would have helped shape the bill at the beginning."
OK, fine. But how should they proceed now? I was talking to Sestak a few minutes after he walked out of the morning Democratic caucus meeting. The consensus? "We have to continue, for the good of working people, to get a health care bill through." That said, he continues in almost the same breath in an echo Obama's comments yesterday, "I don't think we should just jam this thing through."
And what does that mean, exactly? "We should put through a package [that can] get through, we should do that," he says.
To Sestak, that means putting forward the bill's most popular items, and basically daring the Republicans to oppose them: eliminating the insurance companies' anti-trust exemption; prohibiting denial of care based on pre-existing conditions; banning the recision of coverage when insurance companies find out you're sick and don't want to pay; mandating that insurance companies spent 80 percent of premiums on health care; giving small businesses a tax credit. "Principled compromise," he calls it.
But you can't compromise with a brick wall, I reply. They decided long ago to make HCR Obama's "waterloo," thank you Jim DeMint, teabagger emeritus. At this point, I'm not sure what he could propose, short of another round of tax cuts for millionaires, that would garner a single Republican vote. (An anonymous Democratic Senate aide agrees with me: "Imagine we introduce a bill that says health insurance companies can't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. All that would happen is the insurance industry would pay some firm to do a study that concludes that would cause insurance companies to go out of business, and some GOP senator will go to the floor and say 'See? This is all about forcing single payer.' Throw in some douchebag on TV with a tri-cornered hat and a chalkboard, and you have a unified GOP caucus against any bill that remotely attempts to deal with the health care issue.")
"I would lose my job in a heartbeat to get a health care bill through, in a heartbeat. â¦ If there were just some leaders. A Ted Kennedy could work with a Bush on immigration reform â¦ ."
That means the White House, as well as Congress, Sestak says. And in any event, wishing for bygone eras of cooperation and sanity and strong leadership doesn't make it real, and to be frank, it doesn't really get at my underlying question: How do you pass anything as complex as HCR in a body as dysfunctional as the United States Senate, where you basically need 60 votes to take a bathroom break?
One option, of course, is for the House to pass the Senate's version word for word. If the leadership calls for that, Sestak says, "I will look at it and make a determination. â¦ There are some good things in that bill." This doesn't seem too likely. The liberal blogosphere is, as I write, buzzing with news that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will push portions of HCR through via the budget reconciliation process, which means they can't be filibustered. Republicans would raise holy hell, and David Broder would bitch about bipartisanship, but HCR would pass, easily and strongly and it's not like W. never used reconciliation to pass trillion-dollar tax cuts that exploded the deficit so tough cookies. And, as Sestak points out, this is too important to fail: "I don't think you come to a full stop," he says, though he doesn't think Democrats need to rush, either. In the Philadelphia area, he says, 66 percent of the uninsured are working. "Premiums have doubled. I believe we have to get something through. I will support what we can get through."
In other words, if the Dems go for the Senate bill, he's probably in. If they go for reconciliation, he's in. If they go for his preferred method, the more incremental steps outlined above that have a slight hope for bipartisan votes, he's in. But then he adds, "I won't sacrifice good policy at the altar of bipartisanship. But I do support bipartisanship."
So which is it, I ask. The Dems have, since the Tuesday vote, basically divided themselves into two camps: The damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead camp, and the let's-slow-down-and-try-for-Republican-votes camp. To which did he belong?
His answer, as fine a point as I can put on it, is whatever works.
But this brings me to the larger point: Americans are disenchanted with Washington because there's the perception that nothing is being done, and what's being done isn't good, and that special interests have all of us over the barrel, and that they're all corrupt and self-absorbed and out of touch. All valid observations, but the big one is this: Americans wanted to change the way DC works, and instead, they get Ben Nelson's favors and Bart Stupak's antiabortion zealotry and Lieberman's seemingly endless ability to string Dems along and Max Baucus' lobbyist girlfriend and the excise tax and no public option and compromise to the point of near-meaninglessness. How would a Senator Sestak go about fixing that?
Much of the American system, he ruminates, is set up to protect minorities. (This is sort of true; although, according to a fascinating history I'm now reading, it was actually set up to protect southern slave plantations at the expense of everyone else.) "I don't want to change it right now," he says. "I want to get over there, and see about it. We need some leadership."
Here he points me to The Atlantic piece above. "Honest to gosh, I thought of you," he says."Maybe, I'm thinking seriously you know the Democrats will [one day] be in the minority I am taken with [Fallow's notion that] the institution of the Senate is the only place that hasn't changed [in 200 years]. I don't think you can just go from 60 to 51. There has to be some balance. Maybe some changes are needed, right? We could be sacrificing good policy for an arcane rule."
The flip side, he says, is that in the House, an abundance of power in vested in the party leaders the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders, specifically. "I don't want the Senate to be that way. It's less democratic. What's the right mix? That's what I'm going to try to work out."
And before I could ask him if the constant refrain about needing leadership meant that he would support someone other than Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader assuming Reid survives his re-election bid, which is by no means a given he excused himself for a meeting. Next time.
Oh, and just so you don't think we're biased, I asked one of our correspondents who's in with the Specter campaign to put these same questions to his staff. We'll let you know what he comes back with.
So here we are, the day after: liberals desperately seeking an answer for how they lost Ted Kennedy's seat to a tea-bagging, waterboard-loving, American Idol-fathering, former Cosmo centerfold, no less and conservatives touting this as a wholesale national rejection of everything Barack Obama has ever done. And everyone seems to think the health care bill is finished.
The latter first: It's not.
The former is a more complex thing to understand. It's not so simple to say that everyone hates Barack and took it out on Martha Coakley. Nor is it correct, as is permeating its way through the liberal blogosphere, to say that the whole of the blame rests on Coakley's absolutely terrible campaign, though some of it surely does. Special elections are strange things. Special elections, fueled by populist outrage, although often mis- or un-directed but focused on the party of power anyway, in an atmosphere of 10 percent unemployment and a two-year recession, are incredibly strange things that produce strange results.
My guess, to take up the proverbial sports metaphor: It's not so much that the Democrats got outplayed. It's more like they decided to not put their starters on the field until there were two minutes left in the fourth quarter and they were already down by a couple touchdowns.
But we'll need a better answer than that. So, I've asked resident SmartyPants David Faris to dig into the numbers, and come up for an explanation for Scott Brown's inprobable victory. It's set to appear in our Jan. 28 issue (by which time it will be old-ish, but hey, deadline cycles). In the meantime, feel free to prognosticate below.
Oh, and by the way: Brown will be up for re-election in 2012. I've got $20 that says he gets less than 45 percent of the vote. I've got another $20 that says Obama will be re-elected with a larger share of the popular vote than he got in 2008 (that's 53 percent, for the record. Any takers?
This would be funny if it weren't the saddest, most frustrating, most infuriating thing I've ever seen. A reporter wanders the grounds of the 9/12 Tea Party protests in Washington D.C. and mostly lets these outraged citizens hang on their own words.
Remember when it was easy to know where you stood?
That's how I feel, anyway. For the last few years, I wouldn't have had much trouble picking out which bumper sticker was for me, and I suspect the same was true for many Americans.
You were for invading Iraq, or you were against it. You were pro-choice or pro-life. You thought the Republicans were criminals for protecting the rich from taxes; or you thought the Democrats were a bunch of pinkos out to take away your God-given right to get rich yourself somehow.
And by election time, at least you were for Obama, or you weren't.
Now, the Big Issue is health care: and it's a lot trickier.
Are you pro "public option?" What does that even mean? Is President Obama even pro-public option, or what? (He named it last night, to much applause, only to quickly say he was open to alternative ideas â including, presumably, no public option.)
Do you insist that any health care plan passed by Congress be deficit-neutral? If so, why? Aren't we getting something for our investment? And what exactly was your fiscally tough stance on the last eight years of military action in Iraq?
By insisting that all Americans carry mandatory minimum insurance, is Obama forcing big government on you? Or is he protecting your wallet from the costs associated with people who who wind up getting their health care at the emergency room?
Personally, I don't know where I stand on plenty of these and other questions, because frankly, I don't know how to weigh various consequences against each other. And I know I'm not alone. But behind these very complicated questions are a few more fundamental ones that are, perhaps, a little easier for most of us to answer.
Should the government make sure that no American is left without any protection if he or she gets sick? Should the government force insurance companies to stop rejecting/dropping consumers with pre-existing conditions? Should we, as Americans, help pay something to make sure fellow Americans have basic protection from physical calamity?
For me, the most important word in this debate isn't cost (which appeared at least 25 times in the president's speech, by my count), but a world that appeared only once, and which had to be delivered by a dead man.
It came when Obama quoted from a posthumous letter by the late Senator Ted Kennedy: "What we face ... is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
A moral issue.
Before we can start figuring out whether a collection of health care co-ops is preferable to a public option, or whether tort reform (my head spins at the very sound of such phrases) needs to be part of the package, I think we need to ask ourselves whether this is, in fact, a moral issue.
Because if it is if the real question here is whether it is right that Americans might not be able to get care when they need it well, at least that's a start.
I think it is a moral issue. I say so because I have friends who are uninsured, friends who were dealt unfortunate and expensive diseases and because the American dream is one of "liberty and justice for all."
When we profit in America, we profit from each other, and we benefit from the opportunity that our collective society creates. I think justice dictates that we take care of each other, too.
*CP was asked to change the title of this post; since the event was open to all â and therefore un-"crash"-able â we said ok.
Muffled applause, shouts and cheers could be heard above the fiddle band playing at West Philadelphiaâs Millcreek Tavern last night as seventeen Obama supporters congregated in an upstairs room to watch the president deliver his health care speech at a "watch party." The event was coordinated by Organizing for America, the post-election incarnation of Obamaâs political machine, which now exists to promote the presidentâs agenda.
These were not, obviously, people who needed to be sold on the president's health care proposals. They beat Nancy Pelosi to the applause several times, and booed the dour Republicans. The harshest criticism levied against the speech was that it had not occurred early enough to avert weeks of misinformation and congressional inaction.
"It was indeed a speech that, had it been given months ago, would have prevented some of the vacuum, some of the distortions,â said attendee Dennis Jaffe.
Part of the idea of such an event is of course to rebuild â or re-harness â the record-breaking volunteer base that fueled Obamaâs presidential campaign, which at its height enlisted approximately 2.5 million volunteers.
Organizing for America hasnât attracted quite the same following. Alison Hirsch, who arranged last nightâs watch party, admitted that "weâre building back up again.â
Most who volunteered for Obamaâs presidential campaign still support the president â but taking the time to volunteer on his behalf is another question.
Elliott Griffin, a student at Temple University, discovered this firsthand while trying to get former Obama volunteers involved in Organizing for America over the summer.
In a "sign of the economic upturn,â Griffin rather optimistically said, two or three out of the hundred people she called each day had been unemployed during the campaign but now had jobs and hence could not resume their volunteering activities. Then there were the occasional former volunteers who, alienated by the lack of a single-payer option in Obamaâs health care plan, didnât want anything to do with Organizing for America.
"I got both people who would say, âIâve been waiting for you to call, where have you been?â as well as people who were so drained from the election they didnât want to pick up another phone,â recalled Griffin.
She won one new potential volunteer last night. Jaffe didnât volunteer for the presidentâs pre- or post-election campaigns, but after last night, he said, he hoped to get more involved.
"This is an extraordinary, extraordinary opportunity,â he reflected. "And thereâs still such a huge lack of understanding [of] the proposal.â
There are several watching parties scheduled in the area, and you can find them at Organizing for America, but for starters, there's one at Rotten Ralph's, one at the Millcreek Tavern. Remember how involved people used to be with the Obama web site hosting parties and volunteering and now not so much? Maybe that's part of the problem the big guy's having getting his healthcare stuff through. The zealous have become content, and the discontented whack jobs have become the zealots.
Where are you watching the speech? You are watching it, right?
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- it's always sunny in philadelphia
- get out
- 10-track mind
- Bruce Being Bruce
- Gigantic Surprises
- Hello Canary
- Hello Puppy
- get lost
- Inside The Fishbowl
- Library Closings
- Local Support
- Night Moves
- Skeeze Police
- State Politicians Screwing Philly
- That's a cool stencil!
- Things We See
- This Week
- This Week in Oates
- University City
- What we don't heart
- what we heart
- Feeling Guilty
- Broke in Philly
- Dear Paper Doll
- Do A Good Thing
- Film Fest Schism
- G20-20 Vision
- Great American Heroes
- Pearl Jam Week
- Stars of the Photostream
- Lower Merion Webcam-Gate
- The Cycle
- Equality Forum
- Bureaucrat of the Week