Monday, November 24, 2008
The Future of Political Organizing
This past Saturday, November 22, 2008, two Democratic events took place in Medina County. One was a party organized by Obama volunteers in Brunswick, and the other was a party organized by Obama volunteers in Wadsworth. They were held not because the organizers were told to hold them, but because the organizers wanted to hold them. Using email and the telephone, the organizers of the two events, Nick Hanek in Brunswick and Jule Batey in Wadsworth, made sure that Obama volunteers in their parts of Medina County knew of the event, and knew what they had to do to get involved. The result was people getting together, feeling connected, and maintaining the enthusiasm from the successful Obama campaign.
This is how political organization will look in the future. People will get together on their own, using easily available tools to plan and hold political meetings. Successful political organizations will be those that manage to facilitate such meetings, and provide a means of communication to their members. Such means of communication will then be used by the members themselves to organize and spread the organization's message.
This approach comes right out of the Obama campaign. On the wall of the Medina County Democratic Headquarters, the Obama workers put three big words up on the wall: "Include" "Empower" "Respect." This means that you include people, not exclude them; empower them to act on their own; and respect what they are doing.
These concepts are much different than what a lot of political organizations practice. Too many political organizations are exclusive, acting as if they are some sort of private club that only certain people are allowed into. Too often, such political organizations insist on a hierarchical structure, one that is top down and not bottom up. Ideas that are not generated from the leadership are downplayed and ignored.
That style of political leadership is ending. The Internet, like it did in so many areas, has made sure of that. Political organizations that don't recognize that won't be effective, but those that do, will.