President-elect Obama is still a community organizer

Well Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin don’t get the last laugh. It turns out that the community organizer could kick the 9/11 hero’s ass and take down a helicopter-armed rogue moose-hunter for good measure. When Rudy and Palin scoffed at Obama’s background as a community organizer, I instinctively bristled.

Tuesday night showed what community organizing can do. Not only did Obama take the electoral college in a landslide, but the 50-state strategy made red states like North Carolina blue while turning many others purple. He did it with huge turnout, a dominant position among emerging voter blocks like youth and ethnic voters and with techniques learned from the trenches in Chicago.

Only a community organizer could pull this off.

The stories from the field about the Obama vs McCain ground game show the difference. Obama’s field offices were reported full and buzzing with volunteers from all over the country. McCain’s campaign offices were mostly empty and dull, or closed.

Then there’s the Obama campaign’s web strategy, which will go down in history as the first mass scale and most effective use of the social web for political or any other form of organization. But it’s just the beginning, and there is so much yet to be written!

Change.gov shows that Obama fully intends to take his massive email and sms lists, the lessons learned from the campaign and his community organizing instincts together with a new call and program around National Service to really transform the meaning of politics, community and country. The clues are there, and I just can’t help but stare in awe and amazement.

For those of us who dreamed of the potential of marrying bottom-up social movements with a new kind of leadership style, it’s hard to process that our moment may really truly be now. All of a sudden, the work of community organizing just got a new and rather Presidential luster. For those of us who work in the field where social web and real-world issues meet, it’s going to be a very busy time indeed.

5 thoughts on “President-elect Obama is still a community organizer”

  1. Sounds like the case study that those who work in the field where social web and real-world issues meet are going to be flogging HARD for the next 6 months in the hunt for ambitious new projects/clients.

  2. Well Alan, I have to confess that I was giggling like a schoolgirl at the possibilities when those in power start to clue into what Obama is doing with all this “community stuff”.

    As always, I think finding that ambitious new project will mean a lot of vetting of possible clients to find those that are actually prepared to engage community in a real way. I guess I’m looking for my own Obama.

  3. Justin Trudeau perhaps?

    Also, please excuse me Mark:
    I totally neglected to mention that this was an awesome read and totally insightful and kind of jumped to the judgement/commentary part without mentioning that I got a lot out of the article!

    What I meant to say but forgot because you had sent my mind reeling was: Thanks for finding a new insight here, and sharing a decidedly unique viewpoint on a situation we’ve all heard a lot about recently. Really got a lot out of fresh value out of this post!

  4. Alan, there’s already a Draft Justin movement!

    Thanks for the positive comments. I’m hopeful about the signals we see that change has truly come. There is no more fertile time for change than a time of crisis, so I think it’s safe to say that there’s lots of change work to be done the next 6 to 18 months.

    Serious times, but I’m seriously optimistic at the same time.

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