September 9, 2008

Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Dear Governor Palin,

First, congratulations on being nominated for Vice President for the Republican ticket. I realize it's not quite being the governor of the good state of Alaska, and with everything that's going on in your life, well...it's not easy.

I did want to have a nice, public talk - no, I won't bring your private life into this. Quite frankly, it's not fair, and honestly, I used up all my best jokes for Dan Quayle. No, I wanted to bring an issue to your attention, and being we're coming up on the sad anniversary of a traumatic national event, I thought it best to bring it up now.

Back at the RNC Convention, both you and Mr. Guiliani made some very negative comments about community organizers, especially in terms of Mr. Obama's past career. You seemed to indicate that, well, community organizers didn't do much except, well, check out cool sites like the Community Tool Box, and read such books as Organizing for Social Change and Soul of a Citizen

(OK, I made up the last three points, but I think you get the picture).

The irony is that, in many ways, Republicans have attempted to be community organizers in the wake of 9/11 - to encourage people to work towards a common goal.

After all, it's been part of our history - when England wanted to tax our ancestors over tea, we collected it and threw it overboard. When England was about to invade, a silversmith got on a horse and mobilized the community to prepare for a military strike. Then, when we needed a constitution, our forefathers organized a committee and wrote a document that's served as a model for over 200 years.

My point is - community organizers do the work that politicians can't - they mobilize the citizenry. They provide the people without power the ability to hold those with power accountable. They work hard dealing with many people - and many agendas - and attempt to use a small amount of resources to engage in a large amount of social and political change. In short, they make sure that you are doing your job.

But allow me to show you a short clip of myself, back in 2005, engaging in hot, exciting community organizing (note the Hartnell-esque lapel pull):

video

In short, I can understand why you might be a little hesitant to embrace community organizing - after all, it assumes that people are able to take control - say, using the "Share This" button on this note to socially bookmark this post. (Or the classic "For Chicago - And Democracy", for that matter). That democracy isn't another spectator sport - it's a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly.

But you know what? I'm ranting. I'm taking seriously a comment meant solely to pander to your supporters and garner votes...and that's Ok.

But I, most likely, will not be voting for you. Personally, the only Palin I want in the White House will protect the rights of silly people, dead parrots, and lumberjacks who wish to wear women's clothing.

Thanks for reading!

Your pal,
Gordon

4 comments:

Pachelbel said...

Obama had asserted that Palin was not experienced enough to be President. Palin countered, in her convention speech, that being a governor offered more Presidential experience than did being a community organizer. She did not disparage community organizers or what they do for communities.

However, the semi-sarcastic way in which she said it might give the wrong impression, and would Obama's subsequent mischaracterizations.

Michael P. could not serve, as he was born a Brit, but he'd certainly liven things up.

Gordon D said...

Dear Mr. or Ms. Pachelbel (I couldn't find your profile on blogger):

When you make a comment, regardless of tone, that "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities." - that demonstrates a real lack of insight.

As a community organizer myself, I have had to

*Secure funding for programs
*With with a diverse stakeholder base to accomplish set goals
*Inform people about issues in a non-partison
*Help put on events
*Spend money in a responsible way and within set guidelines (yes, that is a loaded statement)

So, in other words - even though her tone may have been regrettable, what she actually said was inaccurate.

(And I try to keep this blog as non-partisan as possible)

Andy Angelos said...

Gordon -

Thanks for maintaining a civil relationship with VP nominee Palin despite your opposing views. Maybe McCain or Palin will respond if they are removed from the neo-Luddite cocoons...unlikely.

The disparaging "community" comments were equally frustrating as I watched from my oil rig in Louisiana. I believe Palin and McCain do understand the value of organization and have united special interests throughout their careers. Obama's work, however, was dedicated to solving the problem of illegal real-estate practices in Chicago slums. The "Chicago machine" Obama worked with was not interested creating wealth but hoped to discover potential solutions from people actually involved in problems.

I think the RNC is just suffering from another case of confusing context. Surely, Community leader Palin has talked to park rangers coping with diminished wildlife populations from hunting. I am certain McCain has connected with leading economists and geologists on the feasibility of offshore drilling.

Sorry...I was unconscious for the last part and may have left uninformed comments.

Andy

Joe said...

Pachelbel said like so many Republicans keep on comparing Obama's years as a community organizer witeh Sarah Palin's years as a mayor or even her 20 months as governor, but the comparison of Obama when he was a Community Organizer in 1985 to 1988 to Palin's time as mayor 1996 to 2002 makes no sense. Obama was volunteering working to help a poor community when Palin was still in college (her 5th or 6th college). They both entered politics in 1996. Obama as an Illinois State Senator from 1996 until 2004 and Palin as a Mayor of a town of 6000 people from 1996 to 2002. Obama went on to become a US Senator in 2004. Palin was Chairperson, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003 and 2004 a position she was appointed to by a governor implicated in the Alaska political corruption probe. In 2004 and 2005 she was director of Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc., a 527 group to help now indicted Senator Stevens. She was out of office from 2004 until December of 2006 when she became Governor of Alaska. So comparing Barack Obama's Community Service when Sarah Palin was still in college to years later when Palin was Mayor and Obama was a State Senator is apples to oranges. Obama has 12 years in elected office. Palin has only 8 years in elected office (Mayor 6 years and Governor less than 2). I wish the media would pick up on this, but of course they won't.