Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Organizing for America Will, and Should, Fail

BY Zephyr Teachout | Friday, January 30 2009

Organizing for America sent out a request for house parties today, asking people to watch a video about Obama's economic recovery plan, talk about it with their friends, and build support for it. While there will be tweaks, this is the kind of action we can anticipate from OFA.

I predict that there will be perhaps a thousand of such parties, then hundreds, then dozens. I think OFA will fail in its mission to directly engage Obama supporters in supporting Obama's executive actions. And I think this is a very good thing.

It will fail because Obama--suiting a President--is not oppositional, conflict-driven, and not likely to pick out particular targets to be won over--all things that are likely to engage people. It will fail because it is from OFA, not from Obama. And it will fail because OFA cannot be a new democratic party, but will have a hard time defining what it is, and what kind of real power ought exist at every level of the organization.

This is a good thing because it is not intended to be a representative organization, where people have real power.

The organization is openly and proudly propagandistic. The email today asks people to host a party at which they can watch a video which will "outline the basics of the plan and how it will impact working families. It will also include answers to questions from folks across the country. Invite your friends and family to watch the video, discuss the plan, and help build support for it."

The organization is proud of the runaround of other power centers (press, congress, etc...).

I support Obama wholeheartedly, and have been thrilled every day of his Presidency. But I support self-government even more, and a successful organization sharing uncritical media with 13 million citizens sounds spooky to me. I'm glad its going to fail.

This is not to say I think OFA should throw away its list and networks. If it were up to me, I would encourage OFA to throw all of its support and resources at local democratic parties and officials--to decentralize the data, and let local groups experiment. I believe Obama has largely done his job, by getting elected and by electrifying the country and showing people that they can have power; but for them to exercise it meaningfully, instead of simply acting as shills for Presidential policy, they will need to exercise it through our representative offices: Congress, and the state houses.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

More