In the Blog

Community Organizing

September 4th, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

I watched the Republican National Convention last night and the way the term “Community Organizer” was tossed around repeatedly like a condescending insult made me really uncomfortable. And angry. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said this last night, in reference to Obama’s perceived inexperience:

“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Isn’t community organizing pretty much what all people interested in social change do at the grassroots level every day? Doesn’t a community organizer “create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved.” Isn’t a statement like that a real slap in the face to both Republicans and Democrats alike? To anyone who works hard to make life better for their fellow citizens?

Thankfully, someone summed up why such an insult is a total kick in the teeth far better than I ever could. The always spot-on Jay Smooth of ill doctrine had this to say about the GOP’s repeated attacks on community organizing:

This recurring theme of turning the phrase “community organizer” into some sort of epithet like “communist” or “homo” or something, that’s really despicable. The difference between a community organizer and a politician is that community organizers are the ones who take the responsibility upon themselves to help their fellow citizens without the benefit of a government budget behind them. And go out there every day doing the hard thankless work to make this country livable which is what allows you politicians to be able to go on TV and brag about how this is the greatest country in the world. And for you to go on that TV show and spit in those people’s faces for the sake of a rhetorical flourish is disgusting.

And hearing Obama describe what he believes it to be here, it certainly doesn’t sound like a bad approach.

Tags: news flash

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