On Dec. 4th, over 2000 independent grassroots organizers and activists from 32 states and a wide range of organizations attended a forum in DC to discuss their role in the election of Obama, and how they would hold him accountable to his promise to bring them and their constituencies "to the table" in setting his administration's policy agenda.
The forum was co-sponsored by the community organization that Obama worked with as a youth fresh out of law school, when he was inspired by the writings of Saul Alinsky, a seminal influence for grassroots organizing technique in the US.
Criticized by some elements of the left for being essentially "reformist", Alinsky laid out methods for mobilizing local constituencies to challenge local, state and national power, to force changes that their communities desperately need for the most fundamental dignity and survival.
The methods Alinsky developed, organizing on the Southside of Chicago, were adapted by civil rights, labor, anti war and environmental groups all over the US, who were more interested in building a material base of support and participation in struggles for power, than in symbolic rhetorical "revolutionary" posturing and posing.
The focus tends to be on tangible, immediate practical local issues. It's about pressing the contradictions of capitalism, in terms of democracy...which can arguably be considered a first step in raising consciousness of the need for revolution.
Wiki on Alinsky
Many (but not all) of the participants in this forum were from "faith based" groups that were the backbone of the black civil rights movement (not to be confused with the right wing fundamentalist "Christian" base of the Republicans). A large preponderance of the attendees and their constituencies are people of color.
Several labor unions also participated in the forum.
Whether Obama ultimately proves willing or able to actually deliver on his promises, or the hope he has inspired, such motion in the masses tends to develop legs of it's own, and thus could be considered a positive development.
This CSPAN archive video was broadcast live during the forum on Dec. 4th. It's 2 hours and 24 minutes long.
Video of Forum
Members of Obama's transition team participated in the forum and workshops, setting yet another precedent for this election, in actually continuing to hold out hope for really substantial, significant change in governance for the US, post election.
This official Obama administration transition website goes beyond anything ever seen before in the US, in terms of attempting to establish a two-way dialog with the general population.
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