Where's Obama's Grass-Roots Army? Conservatives Outphoning Liberals 100-to-1

The oft-touted grassroots army that was supposed to help push the Obama agenda seems to be Missing in Action.
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While the President's stimulus plan is being Swift Boated by Republicans pushing discredited tax-cutting nostrums, the oft-touted grassroots army that was supposed to help push the Obama agenda seems to be Missing in Action -- despite some valuable efforts by important progressive groups.

Campaign for America's Future , for example, is leading an aggressive effort to promote the stimulus package, but their latest email warns that supporters of the stimulus package and Obama's recovery plan are being outgunned 100-to-1 in phone calls to Congress:

100 to 1. We've gotten word from our progressive friends on Capitol Hill that for every one hundred phone calls to Congress from conservatives trying to obstruct change, there is only one phone call from a citizen demanding passage of President Obama's economic recovery bill.

Backed by this conservative grassroots pressure, Senate Republicans are moving rapidly as a block to obstruct -- pushing reforms that are designed essentially to make the plan fail. They're demanding that billions be cut from a plan that, if anything, is already too small, and that more be diverted to top-end tax cuts.

That's not how you create jobs or counter a recession.

We can't allow this partisan posturing in the midst of a national crisis. Progressives need to pick up the phone now to counter the onslaught of calls pouring into the Senate from conservatives.

Call 1-866-544-7573 and tell your Senators: Pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act NOW!

[Here's a direct office phone contact list, state-by-state: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm]

Consider what conservatives might succeed in passing if they continue to out-call us 100 to 1:

* Giving corporations a 30% tax cut, instead of investing in clean green energy that will put people to work.

* $3.1 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy that we know simply don't work to create jobs.

* Less help for states that will be forced to lay off workers, instead of funds to retain police and teachers.

This is not the change America is demanding. It's the same failed Bush policies that drove us to economic disaster. It's time to get to work. This is the first big battle of the Obama administration, and we've got to reignite the fight for change.

Most Americans support a big and bold bill that creates jobs, generates clean energy, modernizes infrastructure, makes education and health care more affordable and protects state governments from slashing services.

But that message is getting drowned out in Washington as conservatives out-organize us and bury Congress in calls. We need to respond!

Call 1-866-544-7573 and tell your Senators: Pass a big and bold economic recovery bill that puts America back to work.

On the night Barack Obama was elected President, he said, "This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you."

And it cannot happen if we let conservatives out maneuver us on this pivotal first fight 100 to 1. If we want to turn change from a slogan to reality, we must speak up. Now.


Robert L. Borosage, Co-Director
Campaign for America's Future

Other labor-led groups are launching TV ads targeting vulnerable Republican Senators, but that approach won't work without grass-roots support backing it up. Here's their strategy:

Amid a worsening economic crisis that resulted in 2.6 million American jobs being lost last year, and with layoffs accelerating in the early part of 2009, Americans United for Change, MoveOn.org Political Action, AFSCME and SEIU announced a robust television advertising campaign today as part of the Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery.

In contrast, the huge 13-million-plus Obama network, under the direction of the new Organizing for America organization, is sending emails through the barackobama.com website asking people to attend house parties to learn more about the stimulus package, but hasn't called yet for lobbying Congress. Will they act in time? Here's their latest message:

Sign up to host a house meeting. Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. This week, some of our biggest companies announced plans to cut tens of thousands more.

The economic crisis is deepening, but President Obama and members of Congress have proposed a recovery plan that will put more than 3 million Americans back to work.

You can learn more about how the plan will help your community by organizing an Economic Recovery House Meeting.

Join thousands of people across the country who are coming together to watch a special video about the recovery plan. Invite your friends and neighbors to watch the video with you and have a conversation about your community's economic situation.

The economic crisis can seem overwhelming and complex, but you can help the people you know connect the recovery plan to their lives and learn more about why it's so important.

Sign up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting the weekend of Friday, February 6th.

The President's plan passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. But if it's going to move forward, we need to avoid the usual partisan games.

That's why supporters are opening their homes to talk with neighbors and friends about how the plan will work -- and what it means for their community.

The video will outline the basics of the plan and how it will impact working families. It will also include answers to questions from folks across the country. Invite your friends and family to watch the video, discuss the plan, and help build support for it...

Take the first step right now by signing up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting:


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

Leaders of Health Care for America Now are joining in supporting this grass-roots initiative, but are adding a more urgent tone in their alerts and asking their members to write to their Senators as well, according to an email I got:

Just a few moments ago, I sent an email message to all of Health Care for America Now's supporters asking them to write letters to their Senators supporting President Obama's economic recovery plan, which is under assault by conservatives.

I'm not sending that email to you. You see, if you're getting this email, you, like me, live in Washington, DC. And therefore, we don't have Senators to send letters to.

Instead, there's something else you can do. This weekend, President Obama has called for grassroots supporters - people like me and you - to attend house parties around the country to learn and discuss the President's economic recovery package to build public support so it can pass with important provisions like health care for Americans who lost their jobs. Health Care for America Now and DC for Obama are hosting one of these house parties this Sunday in DC.

Can you come to our house party this Sunday, February 15th? Click here for more information and to sign up.


So far, the full power of Obama's mighty Web-based grass-roots organization hasn't yet been unleashed to support the President's stimulus package in the battle now underway in Congress. So outside progressive groups have to take up the slack, but if grass-roots conservatives are out-lobbying progressives 100-to-1, then still more needs to be done -- and you can join in to help.

As Robert Borosage observed, and it's worth repeating:

Most Americans support a big and bold bill that creates jobs, generates clean energy, modernizes infrastructure, makes education and health care more affordable and protects state governments from slashing services.

But that message is getting drowned out in Washington as conservatives out-organize us and bury Congress in calls. We need to respond!

Call 1-866-544-7573 and tell your Senators: Pass a big and bold economic recovery bill that puts America back to work

UPDATE: Jason Rosenbaum, editor of the The Seminal group blog, has a trenchant c commentary about the importance of the much-vaunted "netroots" in stepping up to the plate: "Progressives: Stop Whining About the Recovery Plan and Actually Fight." He writes:

Bloggers need to stop complaining about the economic recovery package and start prodding their readers to make phone calls. And you, dear reader, should join me in calling our senators.

There are two reasons why Obama's economic recovery package needs to pass and why we, progressive bloggers and blog readers, should support it and call for action.

First, Obama must win this fight. I'm with Krugman, Stirling Newberry, and others - I'm not sure this package is going to be big enough or bold enough to solve our economic problems. But I can tell you one thing for certain: If this bill gets defeated, there will be absolutely no chance for recovery, let alone anything else like health care, energy, education, and the like. If Obama loses the first big fight he picks, he gets cautious really quickly, just like Bill Clinton.

Second, if netroots activists don't go all in on this fight, we lose relevance. We criticize Democratic politicians for treating us like a cash machine to tap every time they need re-election funds. Once they're in Congress they promptly forget about us and our needs. Well, if the only time we're going to put our power and credibility on the line is when these people need to get elected, they'll only turn to us during elections...

There's a lot of writing about the economic recovery plan on blogs like Daily Kos, Open Left, Americablog, Crooks and Liars, and Talking Points Memo, but something is absent. Not one post is asking readers to pick up the phone. Or write a letter. Or visit their Member of Congress. People definitely have something to complain about. But now that the Senate is debating, the time for complaining is over. It's time for action.

To be sure, there are exceptions. MyDD has a post up. So does Seeing the Forest. So does Firedoglake. Bleeding Heartland too. ACORN is in on it. And Campaign for America's Future has been doing a ton. But it's hardly the swarm of blog posts we've had in the past.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh supporters outnumber progressive calls 100 to 1. As Bill Scher says:

Are we flooding Congress with phone calls (Call 1-866-544-7573 NOW!) to keep President Obama's economic recovery bill big and bold? Or are we overly focused with perfection, letting conservatives, despite their diminishing numbers, dominate the phone lines?

I'm not saying bloggers need to support this package blindly. Our message should push from the left even as it supports. Asking people to call with the message, "Less tax cuts, more investment in jobs," if communicated loudly enough, would allow politicians room to move left in their policy. But there's simply no excuse for sitting back, criticizing, and not calling for action.

So, for the country's sake, stop complaining and start acting. I don't care how you do it. Call the Senate switchboard (202.224.3121). Call your Senators in their home offices (look up their websites here). Go visit your Members of Congress, either in DC or at home. Sit at your computer and click a button to call your Senators. Health Care for America Now will even hand-deliver your letter to Congress if you just take a moment to write one.

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