The most consistent theme of last week’s Republican National Convention seemed to be Anti-Community Organizing. Speaker after speaker belittled Sen. Barack Obama’s community organizing experience — as if it wasn’t experience at all. This, however, was actually quite telling. It seems the apparently out-of-touch GOP does not understand what community organizing is. And, that is quite ironic. For, as Peter Dreier and John Atlas argue in their excellent piece in The Nation magazine:
At a convention whose theme was “service,” GOP leaders ridiculed organizing, a vital kind of public service that involves leadership, tough decisions, and taking responsibility for the well-being of people often ignored by government.
What Republicans do not seem to understand is that community organizing is what ordinary people do to try to make their community a better place in which to live. It is all about empowering people to become leaders themselves when politicians have failed them.
Craig Newmark, the founder of the web-site Craigslist (his own contribution to community organizing), said the attacks on community organizing seemed to reflect something bigger:
I’m personally more than a little disappointed by the attacks on grassroots democracy we heard at the Republican convention. As you see, it’s basically an attack on American values and democracy, and that’s not right.
So, could it be that when GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Gov. Sarah Palin dissed community organizing, she wasn’t putting “Country First,” but rather “Politics First”?