For those of you giddy with excitement over Friday's announcement of OFA 3.0, aka Organizing for Action, just stop for a minute and consider that the largest organization in Democratic Party history is now prevented by law from engaging in partisan politics.
For those of us who still care about the Democratic Party and continue to work to elect more Democratic candidates, this was stunning news today. All the technology, infrastructure and volunteers amassed from 2008-2012 are now lost to us. In other words, President Obama, the leader of the Democratic Party, has just thumbed his nose at the DNC and picked up his toys and taken them home to Chicago.
Implicit in the Obama Campaigns of 2008 and 2012 was the promise of building an organization that would ultimately benefit all Democrats. As it turns out, that is not to be. Were we all duped? Maybe so, but maybe we should have known better. The warning signs were there from the beginning.
In 2008, OFA staff were specifically instructed not to engage or interface with state parties, especially in Georgia. It seemed someone at OFA heard a rumor that state party officials were "Hillary supporters". It wasn't true, but that didn't prevent our entire party from getting the shroud. I know this because two Obama staffers lived with me for three months. OFA staff were also warned to steer clear of county Democratic parties because they carried too much "baggage" and would not be useful to the campaign. Nice.
In 2012, Georgia had only one paid staffer, and volunteers were instructed to organize and focus only on swing states. This happened all over the country, laying waste to the 50 state strategy that helped elect the President in the first place. Later in the year, DNC funds keeping many state parties afloat began to taper off. And attempting to contact anyone at the DNC in 2012 was an exercise in futility. They were all deployed elsewhere, most to Chicago, leaving only a skeleton crew in DC.
In Georgia, huge fundraisers were routinely held in support of the President, but hardly a dollar was spent on the ground. More troubling still was that fundraising for any Democratic candidates other than the President was a challenge, to say the least. There are only so many political dollars to go around, after all. In both elections, Georgia was little more than a pit stop, a photo op and an ATM for the Presidential campaign.
The group’s board will include a host of former Obama staffers, an Obama campaign aide said Friday. Along with Messina will be Obama campaign and White House alumni Stephanie Cutter, Robert Gibbs, Jennifer O’Malley-Dillon, Julianna Smoot and Erik Smith. Senior adviser David Plouffe will also join when he leaves the White House later this month.So, the current brain trust of the Democratic Party, along with every valuable asset in its possession, now resides behind a firewall of a 501c(4) organization that may only engage in issue advocacy. It's really unbelievable. Apparently Jim Messina, et al have decided that, as one DNC member put it, when it comes to the Democratic Party, the juice just isn't worth the squeeze.