Should President Barack Obama be reelected tomorrow, it will be because he will have proven to be the ultimate community organizer.
In a Friday, November 2, 2012 campaign rally in Springfield, OH, President Obama responded to boos from the crowd at the mention of his opponent’s name, “Don’t boo. Vote! Vote! Voting is the best revenge.”
The President is attempting to do the same thing in his reelection efforts that he did in his initial community service efforts on the south side of Chicago: to organize the relatively less powerful to work the system to their best advantage.
His strategic efforts to rebuild the coalition of progressive educationally elite whites, minorities, and young people that elected him in 2008 into a winning electoral college formulaic coalition is also reminiscent of the strategy utilized in defeating then-Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination that election year.
During that effort and campaign season the Clinton machine actually outperformed the Obama campaign insofar as total primary votes are concerned. The Obama campaign was however more adroit in its handling of the caucus procedures. Obama outmaneuvered Clinton when and where it counted to yield the greater delegate harvest.
During the arduous process in which the landmark Affordable Health Care Act was enacted; the President’s determination to pass health care insurance reform hit what appeared to be a road-blocking obstacle with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of long-time health reform advocate Edward Kennedy.
With Kennedy the Democrats had been actually able to muster exactly the 60 votes needed for cloture to repel a filibuster.
Scott Brown’s election as a Republican changed that calculus; but not the ultimate results. Mr. Obama refused to lose and organized the Democrats to barely pass the exact same legislation previously approved by the Senate; through legal use of the reconciliation process.
The President has a very slim lead in the average of the polls in enough states to win reelection for a second term. Ironically, and fittingly, the system that Barack Obama is now attempting to ‘work’ for the benefit of the under-served is the constitutional Electoral College system. This campaign season, culminating in tomorrow’s election, is arguably the final test as to how far community organizing can take a nation.
The effectiveness of the opposing campaign efforts to identify and mobilize their respective voters is the ultimate test of community organizing.