With all apologies to Three-6 Mafia, it’s hard out here for an organizer. We were amazed when Obama’s historic Presidential campaign put a former community organizer into the White House. But, coupled with the Republican’s meltdown, it also put community organizing in the gun sights of the right wing echo chamber. It started with Palin and Guiliani at the GOP convention and has been picked up by the Malkins, Limbaughs, Becks and other folks looking to score cheap shots on progressives.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is the largest of the organizing networks that exist across the country. It has always been aggressive, interested in expansion and has a poor reputation for collaboration with other groups (one reason there have been few statements of support from other organizing groups.)
It’s most recent problems stem from the actions of an ACORN group in Baltimore that were videotaped counseling a couple of right-wing pranksters posing as a pimp and his ho (yes, it was that over the top and stereotypical) on how to get funding for their “small business.”
The result are votes in the House and Senate deny ACORN any federal funding. Maffei and Schumer both voted against ACORN. Gillibrand was eloquent in her defense of the need for ACORN’s work on behalf of struggling, low income families- – one of only 7 Senators and 75 Representatives to do so.
The organizing network that my neighborhood group belongs to, National People’s Action, has a little ditty we sing at protests during our Washington DC conferences with the line “Who’s on your hit list NPA?” We’ve got to realize that this line now cuts both ways. The right wing may be out of power, but they’re not powerless. They have figured out that community organizing groups are great targets in their battle against progressive reforms. We’re not invisible and we’re not flying under anyone’s radar anymore.