September 5, 2008
Community Organizing 101
Republicans mock Obama's community organizing experience.
At the Republican National Convention this week, Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin mocked to great applause Barack Obama's role as a "community organizer" in Chicago more than two decades ago. According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Obama worked "alongside low-income residents in the Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development." The work itself involved "pushing for asbestos removal at Altgeld, pressing for a local job-training office, even agitating to fill potholes and erect stop signs."
Obama was incensed by the mockery, asking, "Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they (Republicans) fighting for... They think that the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the presidency?"
These are valid questions for a party still trying to shake off the stereotype that Republicans are out of touch concerning the plight of the poor and care only for the rich. Certainly pro-lifers and others who help the poor do their own brands of community organizing in dysfunctuional pockets of society. Whether community organizing is the best way to help the poor is one thing, but to dismiss out of hand the work of someone willing at least to try to help is another entirely.
Update: Here's a dissenting view.