President Obama is facing a growing drumbeat of opposition to the three key policy areas he stressed in his State of the Union Address: Education, Health Care Reform and Energy (including the environment).
Regardless of the President’s efforts to include Congress in early formulation of proposals, White House summits and personal meetings, the GOP minority in Congress is increasing their strategy of publicly saying no and finding ways to criticize the President for his efforts and his initiatives.
GOP critics are saying the President is too ambitious (an amazing criticism when the majority of American voters demanded leadership and a change from the previous administration), he is distracted from focusing on the economy and he is trying to foster the creation of a socialized nation.
Additionally, the K Street Army (K Street in Washington is where the biggest lobbying firms are located) is gearing up for clients to battle though legislative proposals line-by-line to change or defeat specific portions as needed. If nothing else, critics and the lobbying corps are already showing how hard and how slow the legislative process could potentially be.
While the traditional Washington establishment readies “politics as usual,” President Obama is going back to his core plan – using the frame of his Presidential campaign and the Organization for America (let’s call it OFA) apparatus to engage Americans and get voters throughout the country to participate directly in the President’s legislative agenda.
An e-mail went out Monday afternoon to millions of Americans on the OFA e-mail list asking them to, “Take the Pledge".
OFA is directly seeking to build a cadre of people committed to making phone calls to other potential supporters, to use their experience in the three key areas to become spokespeople and organizers, and use the organizing and campaign tools to activate people committed to any or all three of the President’s core legislative areas.
The activism of American voters helps put lots of counter-pressure on Members of Congress as the lobbying corps starts to employ paid ads against specific initiatives, and sometimes against specific members of Congress, ultimately voters in Members’ districts is what counts at the end of any political day. Lobbyists making campaign donations are doing so to give Members of Congress the funding they need to run re-election campaigns in their districts. For the most part, elected officials need to raise money to find ways to get the attention of constituents and to make the case they are representing them well.
Short-circuiting this loop, if constituents are committed to issues and start telling their representatives what they expect and that they are being held accountable for their votes, well that changes everything and turns politics on its head. Turning the system inside out is actually returning the system to the way it had been envisioned to work by the Framers of the Constitution a representative democracy – where representatives actually represent the people that elected them!
If successful, the OFA effort can equalize the legislative playing field and can help guarantee the President’s initiatives have a fair shot of making it through to his desk, and sooner rather than later.