Community organizing as a profession got chortles and guffaws at the GOP convention the other night, despite the fact that, in fundamental respects, it represents the sort of grassroots self-help efforts that Republicans have long claimed they support. It's a reminder of the hypocrisy of big-government Republicanism that bottom-up efforts to accomplish social change, which are often threatening to established political power, are the subject of such derision. So much for nostrums about reform and empowering the people.
It may be, however, that community organizing comes back like a lipstick-glossed pitbull to bite John McCain and Sarah Palin. While the Republicans have been prattling about change while essentially proferring up the same, tired policies (just listen to the few specific policy recommendations in McSame's speech last night: cut taxes, reduce the size of government, enact school choice), the energetic supporters of Barack Obama have been burning through their shoe-leather. Yesterday afternoon, as I sweated through the heat of Center City Philadelphia's late summer, I passed several young people who were working up even more of a sweat registering new voters. Such efforts matter in our swing state.
McCain and Palin have a good chance of getting elected this November, given my reading of the polls, the persistence of subtle and less-than-subtle race baiting by the GOP, and the media's gentle treatment of McCain (whose party disingenuously continues to claim it is the victim of left-wing media bias).
But these recent figures on voter registration give me hope:
Colorado: 13,352 Republicans, 66,516 Democrats, 23,437 Independents
Florida: 77,196 Republican, 209,422 Democrat, 26,100 Independents
Iowa: 7,515 Republicans, 69,301 Democrats, -62,922 Independents
Nevada: 1,230 Republicans, 51,457 Democrats, 7,550 Independents
North Carolina: 20,363 Republicans, 171,955 Democrats, 123,605 Unaffiliated
and, of course,
Pennsylvania: 289 Republicans, 98,137 Democrats, 15,907 Independents (no aff.& other)
A lot can happen between now and November, including a mobilization of the right-wing, evangelical base in the GOP, which has finally awakened. But after a grim week of watching the Republican convention, I'm feeling a little better.