On Tuesday, NC Renegade shared a curious email, fired off the same day by Sara El-Amine – the national organizing director of President Barack Obama’s agenda fundraising squad, Organizing for Action (OFA).
Why is it curious?
We’ve all heard the old saying, coined by James Carville, President Bill Clinton’s former campaign advisor during the 1992 presidential election cycle.
It’s the economy, stupid.
“Stupid," Daniel Henninger explained for The Wall Street Journal Sept. 12, 2012, “is whoever thinks a U.S. presidential election is about something else.”
However, while presidential election cycles are about “the economy” and Obama keeps telling Americans that the economy and job creation are his top priorities – and blaming Republicans for his failure to improve either -- OFA has provided concrete proof that Obama’s top priorities since becoming president are “about something else” entirely.
“From the start,” El-Amine begins, “we've built our strategy by listening to the people carrying it out -- you.”
In other words, OFA’s agenda – and thereby, Obama’s agenda -- is determined not by listening to the concerns of Americans as a whole, but rather to the whims of those who help OFA – and thereby, Obama -- carry out the agenda they’ve “built.”
OFA doesn't just slap the word "grassroots" on what we do and call it a day -- we live by it.
“Every once in a while,” El-Amine wrote further, “we want to take a chance to check in with where our supporters are, what's important to you, and what you want to focus on in your organizing in the months ahead.”
Answer this quick, one-question poll and let us know what you're thinking.
After following the link, Obama's "supporters" are asked:
What issues are you most focused on? (You can choose more than one.)
Fixing our immigration system
Curbing climate change
Preventing gun violence
Strengthening the middle class
Fighting for women
Promoting marriage equality
On Feb. 14, Obama said “our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good middle-class jobs.”
That's our top priority. That's our North Star.
On July 24, Obama said strengthening the middle class by reversing “the trend of a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better while everybody else just treads water” -- a “trend” Examiner noted Aug. 15 has increased faster under Obama’s watch than it has over the past ten years -- “has to be Washington’s highest priority” and is “certainly” his “highest priority.”
So why is “strengthening the middle class” listed fourth on OFA’s list of “priority” options?
Prior to the November 2012 elections, an April 17 Pew Research Center poll showed that – while the economy, jobs and budget deficit claimed the top three slots -- social issues were ranked among the least of America’s concerns. While the issue of “healthcare” did make the top five, it was not mentioned as a wish among Americans “to advance Obamacare.”
On Jan. 14, “Americans' concerns about the federal budget deficit and government dysfunction rose high enough in January to knock unemployment out of the top two slots on Gallup's "most important problem" list for the first time since 2009.”
Gallup’s April 15 survey showed that the economy still dominated the list of top concerns, “followed by jobs and dissatisfaction with the general way in which Congress and the government work.”
Despite the focus lawmakers in Washington were placing on gun control and immigration reform, Gallup’s survey also showed that “few Americans” mentioned “guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation.”
The same held true in Gallup's June survey.
In fact, the results of national surveys compiled by Poling Data.com between June 2010 and Sept 2013 show the economy has consistently been ranked the top priority of Americans with social issues barely registering on the concern radar.
When it comes to the “top priorities” cited by the majority of American’s and by Obama himself – the economy and jobs -- OFA’s decision “to focus on” the pet social issues Obama’s supporters think are “important” and “advancing” a healthcare law that the rest of America always hated and increasingly want repealed just doesn’t make any sense.
Then again, CBS News was confused about Obama’s ever evolving list of “top priorities” back in 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20013622-503544.html
It’s also worthy to draw attention to OFA’s curious choice of words – taking “a chance” rather than “an opportunity” to find out “what's important to” Obama’s “supporters” and what they “want to focus on” in their “organizing in the months ahead.”
Is OFA worried there’s a “chance” that Obama’s “supporters” might join the majority of Americans one day in saying they want Obama “to focus on” the economy rather than social issues for a “change?”
“We learn a lot from these surveys," El-Amine admitted, perhaps inadvertently, "and we've spent the first eight months adjusting our plans based on what we hear from people on the ground.”
According to the “issues” currently listed on OFA’s website, some prior “quick, one-question poll” must have determined that – while addressing climate change topped the list -- “jobs and the economy” would be fifth on Obama’s list of “what’s important” to his “supporters.”
“So whether your focus is on climate change, jobs, gun violence, immigration reform, Obamacare, women's rights, marriage equality, or something that's not on this list,” El-Amine’s email continued, “I want to hear about it.”
Notice how -- while “jobs” was tossed in as some ancillary thought among a host of social issues – “the economy” wasn’t mentioned at all.
In other words: Regardless of Obama's public assurances -- that “our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good middle-class jobs” -- it’s really about the social issues his "supporters" want "to focus on," not "the economy -- stupid."
UPDATE: If you don't think OFA is speaking for Obama on the matter of prioritizing social issues over and above the economy and jobs, The Daily Paul shared a subsequent email on Wednesday, sent out by Obama's wife, Michelle.
You can't just want change.
You've got to fight for it, too. Barack and I hear that's exactly what you're doing -- thank you.
This work matters. Just look at the August congressional recess: For the first time in a long time, our side built some real momentum over the summer -- on everything from immigration reform to climate change. That's all you.
You're the heart and soul of this organization. That's why OFA wants to hear directly from you.
"So, if you had to pick," the First Lady said then, providing the same link to the same "quick, one-question poll" promoted by El-Amine in her OFA email, "what is the number one issue that drives you to keep fighting?"
I had the privilege of helping get Organizing for Action off the ground earlier this year, and I'm excited about where you're taking it.
There's a lot of work still ahead. As Barack says: Winning an election doesn't bring about the change we seek. It simply gives us the chance to make that change.
You're embracing that opportunity -- and all Americans will be better off for it.
Paid for by Organizing for Action
As another other old saying goes: "'Nuff said."