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Former OFA Staffers Look Back on the Health Care Fight

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, March 25 2011

Yep, mistakes were made, write Natalie Foster and Ben Brandzel, but in the end Organizing for American managed to pull together a massive public campaign to get health care overhaul legislation through Congress, fulfilling a promise of the Obama campaign. Foster and Brandzel were, in 2009 and 2010, respectively the new media director and new media campaigns and fundraising director at Organizing for America, and to mark the year anniversary of the health care overhaul bill's passage, they celebrate the volunteers on the ground in a piece on the Huffington Post.

[I]t's a story very much worth remembering right now. Health reform is once again under fire. Meanwhile, many Americans are feeling bullied back into a sense of hopelessness. It's critical in times like these to remember just how powerful ordinary folks can be.

Of course, Organizing for America (President Obama's official grassroots campaign team) was just one part of a vast people-powered coalition that fought for health reform. And we've had our critics -- many of whom have made quite valid points about mistakes we made along the way.

But we aren't writing today to defend our record, voice our frustrations or rebut our critics. We're simply writing to give credit where it's due -- to the millions of OFA supporters who moved mountains to help pass reform.

Foster and Brandzel, point to a 40-page document called "Delivering Change," embedded after the jump for your easy perusal, that was produced shortly after the bill passed. What jumps out on (re-)reading is that there's no attempt to present OFA as the sort of collaborative, distributed organization that many people hoped it'd become after the campaign. Instead, we get a picture of an army of volunteers who pushed for Obama's legislative agenda by making scores of phone calls, fact-checking online claims, and putting human faces on what health insurance means in real people's lives.