An article in the Daily Beast gave me pause for thought.
It is difficult to overstate just how enraged state Democratic activists and leaders are with Organizing for Action (OFA), the political and community-organizing army that grew out of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
The nonprofit, which functions as a sort of parallel-Democratic National Committee, was founded to mobilize Democratic voters and supporters in defense of President Obama’s, and the Democratic Party’s, agenda. Instead, the organization has drawn the intense ire, both public and private, of grassroots organizers and state parties that are convinced that OFA inadvertently helped decimate Democrats at the state and local level, while Republicans cemented historic levels of power and Donald J. Trump actually became leader of the free world.
These intra-party tensions aren’t going away, especially now that OFA “relaunched” itself last week to protect the Affordable Care Act, boost turnout at congressional townhalls, and train grassroots organizers gearing up for the Trump era.
“This is some GRADE A Bullshit right here,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, wrote in a private Democratic-listserv email obtained by The Daily Beast.
. . .
The decimation of the Democratic Party during, and leading up to, the Age of Trump is not, however, any single organization’s fault. The DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign raised many times more money than OFA for the 2016 cycle, and that didn’t stop President Trump, either.
To the defeated and angry liberal activists and operatives, OFA is just one of several “devils”—one that is emblematic of large-scale institutional problems.
“We’ve seen over the last eight-plus years a deterioration of permanent state infrastructure,” one red-state Democratic operative, who requested anonymity, said. “And OFA built an alternative infrastructure that was very top-down. OFA’s actions were wasteful, duplicative, and it made no sense… There were these tensions on the ground that we saw that all over the country. Local officials felt tossed aside. A lot of these red states were abandoned. The OFA model was never a 50-state strategy—it was about the president’s agenda.”
. . .
“I don’t know what the mission is with the new OFA, what the purpose is supposed to be,” Jaime Harrison told The Daily Beast. “There are a lot of these various [outside] groups… and if having all these other groups means diminishing the impact of state parties, that’s where I have a problem. We need to figure out the best path forward. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean a world without OFA, but… we have to focus on rebuilding the party across the board, not just focusing on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”
There's more at the link.
When you think about it, that's the opposite of how President Trump won the 2016 elections. He didn't have a top-down structure at all - in fact, he defeated every candidate put up by the Republican Party's top-down structure. He mobilized the grass-roots, the 'forgotten people' that both political parties ignored. He's still doing that. If you look at the opinion polls, for all that the press and the 'establishment' fulminate against him, try to undermine him, and seek to put obstacles in his path at every turn, he maintains a better-than-50% approval rating. That's because the grass-roots know that he came out of their ranks, with their votes; and he's cemented their loyalty by doing, in his first few weeks in office, precisely what he promised them he'd do.
Indeed, the efforts by the 'establishment' to stop the President's program in its tracks, and overturn his executive actions, are merely confirming to the grass-roots why they voted for him. He's doing what they want. The 'establishment' is trying to stop it. Therefore, the 'establishment' is against the grass-roots, and must be destroyed. That's their mood right now, and that's why they're not being turned off by the deluge of negative propaganda in which the 'establishment' is seeking to drown President Trump.
If the Democratic Party wants to regain the White House - much less the House and Senate - it had better wake up and smell the grass-roots coffee. It's already lost a lot of support from union households, a foundational element of its constituency. As Mark McDermott (himself a Democrat) put it, 'The Democratic Party is losing the working class'. If that takes root, it'll be out of power for generations.
Top-down just won't cut it with the grass-roots or the working class. It has to be bottom-up . . . or you'll forfeit their support. OFA - a top-down organization if ever there was one - hasn't figured that out yet.