Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Small Town Roots

We are pleased to welcome our newest guest blogger, Small Town Roots. Roots is a native of Paradise, CA (one of the reddest areas in California) who was a friend of The Big Picture from Berkeley. Among us, he was by far the earliest supporter of Barack Obama, even sporting his "Barack and Roll" t-shirt at a Senate hearing with Obama in the Summer of 2007. He worked almost every day from June through Election Day running a regional fundraising operation for the Democratic Party, and now leads another fundraising office for progressive causes. He brings the perspective of his experience on the ground, actually interacting with dozens of different people each day.

Small Town Roots: The fissures within the political system on both sides of the aisle underscore one of the key difficulties the new administration is going to have to navigate, but a great opportunity. As beautiful as Obama's campaign was organized (and in the end that does have to be attributed to his leadership from the top) he still has to prove that he can be the cohesive figure that keeps the majority together. Obviously, the larger Democratic majority makes navigating within the party a much more difficult task, and it is still yet to be determined how much political capital Obama has to use on items such as the stimulus to keep the majority together. If he has to go to the grassroots base and call for progressives to apply pressure on every issue on his platform, that resource may dry up quickly if things do not move in a positive direction.

However, if he does mobilize people effectively on a couple of key issues early in the presidency, the grassroots base that created his historic fundraising and organizing operation could become the driving force behind the political agenda. People in Washington know he did not get elected in a very typical fashion, but it is still undetermined how those forces transfer to driving policy. When he does demonstrate he can use the networks he established effectively, particularly on something as important and large as this stimulus package, then we are witnessing a truly radical alteration in the political landscape.

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