Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Republican Party and Community Organizing

Last night at the Republican National Convention, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin mocked and belittled IL Senator Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer. This was dispicable. Do Republican even know what community organizing is? Here's a definition from a good friend of mine who is a professional community organizer:

"Community organizers, as many of you know, have loads of
responsibilities. The biggest one is helping people educate and
empower themselves to have agency in their lives and fight for their
own interests and for a better world."

It's incredible that the Republican pary would take such offense at the this. What did the founding fathers do when they met in their homes in Boston and New York and Philadelphia and Virginia? Community organizing! How have women gained the right to vote? Community organizing! How did the marches and protests in the civil rights movement happen? Community organizing! G-d forbid people actually meet among themselves and think about what problems they have and how best they can work together to make a difference. And G-d forbid they ask someone with experience bringing people together and experience petitioning government to help them be more effective.

On a more specific note, you should read the middle section of Obama's first book (Dreams from my Father) about his experiences in Chicago as a community organizer if you haven't already. It's an amazing story of a young man who spent time talking to people on the South Side of Chicago. Not as a politician, but just as a guy interested in helping them fight for themselves. It's experience that I think makes Obama exceptionally qualified to be President of the United States. There are plenty of people like the residents of Wasilla, AK in the US. But there are also plenty of people like the residents of the South Side of the Chicago, and they need our help more than ever.

Obama's experience as a community organizer gives him an incredible perspective, and it's something to be applauded. It's a big reason to vote for him.

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