Organizing for America offers opportunities for college credit
President Obama’s army of citizen volunteers is now actively recruiting college students in states across the country to “build support for President Obama’s agenda” – and earn college credit while advocating for “change.”
Obama for America, Obama’s 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and is now known as Organizing for America, or OFA. The movement some call “Obama 2.0” is now recruiting students and offering to provide credits toward degree plans in exchange for their advocacy skills.
A message from OFA national volunteer coordinators announcing the recruitment campaign and internship opportunities has been posted on several websites and on Facebook.
“Students and young people were critical in building the movement that helped elect President Obama last year. By becoming a National Organizing Intern, you’ll be part of the grass-roots effort to make the change we fought for a reality in 2009 and beyond,” it states. “As an Organizing Intern, you’ll work side by side with OFA staff and community leaders to help build support for President Obama’s agenda. You’ll learn core organizing principles that are crucial for any campaign and play an important role in building our organization in your state.”
The announcement continues, “President Obama describes his time as a community organizer by saying: ‘It was the best education I ever had, because I learned in those neighborhoods that when ordinary people come together, they can achieve extraordinary things.’
“This is your chance to get that same education.
“If you’re passionate about making sure every American has quality health care, reviving our economy, and building a clean energy future, don’t miss this great opportunity. No previous experience is needed in order to apply.”
The group’s website declares: “Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is empowering students across the country to build on the movement that elected President Obama and help bring about his vision for change.”
Volunteers must commit to working at least 12 hours a week from Sept. 1 to Dec. 11 and, according to the OFA website, may receive college credit from their schools for doing so.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that OFA workers have been knocking on doors and making phone calls in Iowa and Nebraska to garner support for Obama’s health care initiative.
“It is the first time in recent memory that a presidential candidate has maintained an active, grass-roots presence in either state after an election,” the newspaper reported.
“Iowa has almost nonstop presidential activity,” said Norm Sterzenbach, executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party. “But the idea of having a sitting president continuing an organization is fairly unusual.”
According to the Washington Post, Obama used the same standing political army earlier this year to gather signatures in support of his economic plan. The president asked his supporters to go “block by block and door by door” in every state.
In March, when volunteers canvassed high-traffic locations in Birmingham, Ala., to support Obama’s health care, education and energy policies, one event organizer told the Birmingham News, “We are looking for supporters. We’re not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army.”
In an Aug. 5 e-mail, Obama once again urged his supporters to help him gain support for his health care plan:
… Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you’re counting on them to act.
But these canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in July that OFA has hired staff in 38 states and intends to expand to all 50 states. OFA announced that it has organized 1,906 local events in all 50 states – from press conferences to community discussions – since it launched its health care campaign in June.
As WND reported, Obama has been accused of “planting” OFA volunteers and supporters at many of his recent town hall forums so they may ask pre-selected questions. The White House insists that attendees are selected at random, but a closer look reveals many questioners range from Obama campaign donors and Organizing for America volunteers to single-payer health care lobbyists and Service Employees International Union members.
According to New Hampshire’s DMUR 9 News, Obama health care supporters, including OFA members, are being driven to town hall meetings by the busload:
One citizen filmed a crowd of activists at a recent town hall meeting. Each attendee held a printed placard promoting health “reform” and addressing numerous “myths” and “facts” about Obama’s plan. Asked where she got the sign, a woman said, “Organizing for America. We’re a grass-roots organization and proud of it.”
Other town hall attendees have reported seeing volunteers handing out pre-printed fliers and posters from OFA.
WND also reported that help wanted ads are appearing on Craigslist that offer to pay citizens between $9 and $16 an hour to lobby for the passage of Obama’s health care. One Sacramento Craig’s List ad declares, “Help pass Obama’s health care reform! Earn $325-$550 per week!”
Craigslist ads for Sacramento-area workers to “help pass Obama’s plans”
Another Craigslist ad in San Francisco invited prospective applicants to “join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen.”
The same ad ran in the Craigslist Washington, D.C., section. Similar ads were posted in Minneapolis, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, sections.
Organizing for America is also calling on Obama supporters to show up at local representatives’ offices to show support for health reform.
“As you’ve probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it’s getting ugly,” a letter from Organizing for America states. “Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can’t let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand.”
The group even offers to provide “information to drop off about how the health care crisis affects your state (with the option of adding your personal story)” and “a step-by-step guide” for pushing health “reform” at district offices.