Health Battle Tests Obama Grassroots Group

Organizing for America struggles to become force for policy activism
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2009 12:08 PM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks during the Organizing for America National Health Care Forum at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Newser) – For Jeremy Bird, deputy director of Organizing for America, the battle for health care reform takes the shape of the numerous meetings he’s had with discouraged volunteers across Wisconsin this weekend. The OFA network is smaller and underfunded compared with its campaign-era version, and volunteers feel “outshouted” by conservative activists. For each group of OFA members, Bird has had just 90 minutes to restore their optimism, the Washington Post reports.

Bird’s efforts to keep OFA members optimistic in the face of an angry and effective opposition represents a test for the Obama administration’s theory that a campaign network could be transformed into a permanent force for policy activism. “We always said in the campaign that this was not just about one election but about a chance to make some major changes,” Bird told one group in Racine. “Well, here's the chance.”