Why I’m not organizing for America

As a former Obama campaign staffer, I’ve been asked repeatedly to get on board with Organizing for America [OFA], the successor to the original—and amazingly effective–OFA [Obama for America] that helped get the President elected and issued my campaign paycheck.  I have yet to participate.

A recent article in Rolling Stone reveals the back story of what happened to OFA, on the national level, and it’s very disheartening. But even before reading that piece, I had already backed away from OFA.  Here’s why:

  1. They asked me to campaign for “health care reform” when there wasn’t anything to campaign for. OFA’ers were supposed join phone banks urging constituents to call their Congressional reps and tell them to support “the President’s program.” As the President, back then in 2008, hadn’t specified what he wanted, I wondered what I would say to those people on the phone.
  2. OFA seemed like a propaganda machine for the President. OK, I know: As a paid campaign worker, I had already drunk the Kool-Aid. But during the campaign, I thought I knew what I was working toward and what the message was. In this new phase, I needed to see exactly what this President was about, before I blindly pushed this vague thing called his health care “plan.”
  3. While I was supposed to be campaigning for health care reform, President Obama was cutting a deal with drug manufacturers, the hospital industry and health insurance companies.  Later, the public option was deep-sixed in the frantic quest for 60 votes in the Senate. I wasn’t even sure I supported the plan that OFA wanted me to push. I’m still getting urgent appeals from OFA, even though health-reform—whatever that means—appears to be dropping like a stone off the A-List of political priorities.
  4. OFA morphed from a grassroots organization into a subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee. That’s not change, that’s business as usual. Shame on you, David Plouffe.
  5. Every communication I receive from OFA asks for money. I don’t donate to the Democratic National Committee—they’ve screwed things up enough without my support.

I know I’m taking a risk in saying these things. I hope my campaign buddies will understand. I still have hope. But I suspect that I’m not the only Obama-phile who is annoyed by the direction that OFA has taken. I’d like to hear from others. Are you out there?