Boots on the Ground

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on October 30th, 2008

During the Republican Party convention, many speakers derided Barack Obama’s background as a “community organizer.” Next Tuesday, if the polls are to be believed, they will see just how hard it is to run against a good community organizer. Indeed, the benefits of the community based Obama campaign are likely to last for many years to come.

Obama has run a campaign based in grass roots organization, with a neighborhood based structure and an emphasis on the individual autonomy of volunteers. This structure will enable the campaign to mobilize the “boots on the ground” necessary to get out the vote in the next couple of days. But even more importantly, the campaign has been a source of empowerment for thousands of volunteers throughout the country. Volunteers have met neighbors who share their interests and concerns, and enjoyed the experience of working with them for a common cause.

In an era when many of us feel increasingly isolated from others and cynical about politics, this grass roots based campaign has been a refreshing source of social contact and re-connection. It also has established a network for future political change. When my neighbors are concerned about an issue, whether national or local, they now know whom to call. The next progressive candidate in my community will have a ready-made structure on which to rely. With this pattern repeating itself throughout the country, thanks to Obama’s campaign strategy, American politics may never be the same.


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