Whatever happened to Obamania? 

 

Where have all those Obamenthusiasts who were so visible in 2008 been hiding this year? In this New Republic article  Lydia DePillis seems to think that the problem is that Organizing For America has been run as a top-down organization, rather than as a bottom-up movement, giving the folks out there no sense of ownership.  She asks, “Can a grassroots organization run in the top-down style of a political machine really accomplish much—let alone change the terms of debate on any given issue?”
 

I think there’s something more going on--or not going on--here. Many Obamenthusiasts were thrilled by the idea of putting Obama in and getting George W. Bush out. They achieved their goal a year ago. What more is left? Did these people really expend all this energy to reduce the percentage of people without health insurance? “We are the change we are seeking,” Obama said during the campaign. Well, the Obamenthusiasts got that change. Now they can go back to gardening or Sudoku. If this view is right, it doesn’t matter much whether Organizing for America is lodged in the Democratic National Committee or not, or whether it’s run top-down or bottom-up—the issues DePillis considers critical. If people aren’t motivated to do an unnatural thing—and engaging in political activity is for most people an unnatural thing—they won’t do it.

 

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Michael Barone

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