THE BLOG
02/14/2013 12:45 pm ET | Updated Apr 16, 2013

We Need the Lists

Presidential campaigns come and go. Every four years they come to town, set up an operation, execute an election plan, and go home.

A big part of the plan is to energize people who volunteer their sweat equity or cash to see a national vision come true.

The following year is usually a drought. Local elections are not thought to be as 'sexy' as the national elections. It is more difficult to maintain or refit a machine to find people to run for school boards or the myriad of offices that need to be populated. This is where political inertia reigns supreme. It is difficult to find people who will step up to fight a status quo.

If Organizing for America (OFA), the machine that reelected President Obama, is really serious about changing the political landscape, it needs to step up now.

Macro-politics of pitched gun battles and debt crises at the national level scream for the OFA to pressure congresspeople; but the micro-politics of grassroots organizing also needs to be cultivated.

Some states have a year-round election season. In a couple of weeks, Pennsylvania petitions will be going out for those un-sexy races. Where I live we are having trouble finding people to remove an all-GOP school board. One school board meeting last month had the board laying the groundwork for installing lights at a football stadium and 15 minutes later removing a math course.

If the president really wants to support public education, we need people on the school boards who think the same way. The OFA has the list of people who stepped up for the president last year. Local parties need access to that list.

Campaigns guard these names with their lives. I remember after John Kerry lost -- that campaign refused to let the local party know who helped so that the local party could continue building. It is not like they really did anything with that list. When the local party does not get the opportunity to follow-up with the previous year's donors, many times those donors feel used: "Hey, the campaign only wanted my money and nothing else."

Think about it another way: If you are continually asked for donations and give (time or cash) to parties and candidates, shouldn't you have a say in who gets to run? Involvement is the chip you put into the system to "Pay to Play."

The OFA donor and volunteer lists are the initial seed lists for creating search committees to find people who actually DO believe in the public school system. One list cannot operate without the other.

The OFA has to turn over their donor lists to local Democratic Party Officials -- the ones on the ground closest to the action. The local party needs to call those volunteers and donors to create a search committee to find the qualified people in the local communities to take on those who are opposing this president at the local level.

Otherwise, we risk repeating continual unchecked development of the Tea Party, similar to what happened in 2009-2010 when the Obama team left the field locally.

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