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Last night, both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin took a somewhat dismissive tone towards "community organizers" in their speeches, in a not-so-veiled swipe at Senator Barack Obama. To these two former mayors, they felt that they had a better sense of the "mood" and needs of their communities.

That got me to thinking. Just what does "community organizer" mean to me?

To me, it means people like Jesse Jackson, professional race hustler and shakedown artist.

It means people like Al Sharpton, professional race-baiter and instigator, the guy responsible for riots that have actually killed people.

It means people like William Ayers, unrepentant former terrorist who took millions and millions of dollars meant to improve education in Chicago and funneled it to his cronies and pet causes (with the able assistance of people like Barack Obama), and in the end did almost nothing to actually improve the school system.

These people claim to be acting selflessly, in the best interests of "the people," but I have always been suspicious of that kind of declaration. The vast majority of people are loyal to whomever pays their paycheck: "if you take the king's gold, you play the king's tune" and all that.

Speaking personally, I am loyal to my employer, but I am far more loyal to my employer's customers. To me, they are the ones who pay my paycheck; my employer of record just handles the paperwork.

I find that Mitt Romney said it best in this exchange with a Boston Globe reporter from his days as governor of Massachusetts:

The key part of the exchange?

Romney: "You have a point of view on this?"

Reporter: "I represent the people, governor."

Romney: "No, I represent the people. You represent the media."

Romney, like Giuliani and Palin, DID represent "the people." They stood election, and were chosen by the people to lead and represent them.

Community organizers, on the other hand, have no such mandate. They are self-designated, supported by people and organizations with their own agendas. Those might be benevolent and well-meaning, but they are NOT "representative" of the communities they claim to be organizing.

And that brings up a more fundamental question: for what are they organizing these communities for? One organizes something for a reason, a purpose. I organize my sock drawer to make it easier to find matching socks. Unions organize to make demands for better working conditions for their workers. Nations organize to improve their relations and cooperate for common causes and concerns.

I suspect that these community organizers are trying to build off the union model. They want to improve the lot of the people living in those communities, and believe that there is strength in numbers.

That model doesn't work, because the parallel is flawed. Union organizing works because the workers have something the employers need: their labors. Give them what they want, and they will work more productively. Deny them, and they will slow down or stop entirely.

"Communities" don't have that kind of immediate power. They have their votes to offer, but that's about it. And that is what these community organizations are after -- to get their votes not just for the candidates who will best represent them, but those who will best aid the organizers' causes as well.

The classic advice from Watergate serves in so many places, and this is no exception: "follow the money." Where does the money for these "community organizers" come from, and where does it go?

With politicians, it's fairly easy -- by law, they have to fully disclose their finances. We can now easily find out just who is paying our politicians, often online, with just a few clicks.

On the other hand, some of the bigger "community organizers" are far less open. ACORN, whom I have a particular dislike for, is a private organization and doesn't disclose its financing. On their own web site, ACORN proclaims:

ACORN is a non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization with national headquarters in New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. To maintain independence, ACORN does not accept government funding and is not tax exempt.

This also has the entirely-coincidental effect of excluding them from government and public scrutiny.

Who pays ACORN's bils? Well, some of it can be found indirectly -- ACORN might not have to report who gives it money, but some of its donors are public and do have to disclose these payments. Thanks to Discover The Networks, we know this:

In recent years, ACORN has received funding from many foundations, including but not limited to the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Minneapolis Foundation; the Open Society Institute; the Public Welfare Foundation; the Surdna Foundation; the Woods Fund of Chicago; the Scherman Foundation; and the Ben and Jerry's Foundation.

On the other hand, for example, we know that Sarah Palin has a relationship with a lobbyist: their daughters are high school basketball teammates, and they often car-pool to games and practices. We know this because Palin listed it on her most recent financial disclosure form.

Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant. We have demanded -- and won -- the right to shine that sunlight into the lives of those who hold the public trust, who take positions of authority in government. Community organizers, though, claim the same moral authority (or more) of elected officials, but offer none of the openness or accountability -- and have no interest in doing so. They want us to just take their benevolence on faith.

I think not.


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Comments (27)

"Community Organizer" has a... (Below threshold)

"Community Organizer" has another name "Special Interest".

You couldn't have a convent... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

You couldn't have a convention without community organizing.

Most people in America don'... (Below threshold)

Most people in America don't really know what a community organizer is and what they do. I must admit, that I don't recall ever meeting a community organizer myself. And yet the job of Community Organizer is a prominent part of a Presidential candidate's resume.

Wouldn't it be great if there was some organization or group that investigated Obama's background as a Community Organizer and perhaps reported back and informed the country as to what a Community Organizer was and what kind of job Barack Obama did as a Community Organizer? Who could we find to do that investigation and has the ability to inform the country?

A Community Organizer creat... (Below threshold)

A Community Organizer creates, populates and agitates victim groups to demand wealth redistribution and fight any requirements to work and give back to the community. Community Organizers demand minorities stay poor, angry, drunk, stoned and bound by no standard of behavior. To community organizers, bad is good and worst is great.

It's resentment from below with no way out besides demanding what's owed to you because of need and the sins of history. It's the worldview of socialism, which fails miserably but never dies because academic and cultural elites think under socialism they'll be the ruling class and they'll never have to work a real job.

(slightly off topic - sorry... (Below threshold)

(slightly off topic - sorry)

The AP is currently prominently distributing a hilarious 'fact check' of the "RNC speakers" from last night. They go so far as to 'fact check' obviously humorous hyperbole from Huckabee to proclaim it a ridiculous lie. They call Romney a liar for saying that Washington hasn't been liberal in the recent past because 'Democrats have only been in charge of Congress for 2 years'. It's pretty pathetic. Yahoo has it up on the front page at the moment.

Zero. Zero. Zero. ... (Below threshold)

Zero. Zero. Zero.

For a time I was an elected republican precinct chairman. A few terms. Enjoyed the regional and state conventions. I did meet with my community, especially after the primary election where I had to start the party resolution conventions.

I guess I was a community organizer. I know for sure it does not make me qualified to be POTUS. ww

Oh what a tangled web the M... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Oh what a tangled web the MSM weaves...

A great website for researc... (Below threshold)

A great website for researching non-profits is guidestar.org. All it takes is an email address and you can pull the IRS Form 990's for nearly any non-profit foundation/org in the country.

The catch with ACORN is the last line of their bio, '.. is not tax exempt.', because they're not a 501, their finances are private. 'Anne Casey', 'Minneapolis Foundation', 'Open Society Institute', and the others listed are 501s, because of this, their financial data is readily available.

Take a look at Open Society Institute's 990 from 2005, flip to page 14. Doesn't the nearly 400 million donated by Soros seem a little excessive? Some of these 501s are dealing with simply staggering amounts of money.

WildWillie,You denig... (Below threshold)

You denigrate your involvment with "community organizing". You were ELECTED. That is the big difference. Of course, if you were elected, you would be expected to be involved in the community. You have a valid job and the consequences of a poor job = lose your job. It is the UNELECTED community organizer who cannot be held to account for their actions. Perhaps Obama did a great job and that propelled him into the political arena, but I agree with Eric that it would be interesting to see a few more specifics of what he did and what he actually accomplished.

Very good point Grace.... (Below threshold)

Very good point Grace.

I guess I was comparing Obama's running his campaign as executive experience. HA!

Before I was elected, in Houston, Texas there was this grassroots effort that required me to get involved in my community to get signatures and stuff. That led up to my election decision. Also, election judge. So, by Obama's standard, I can decide on supreme court justices. ww

Obama as a 'Community Organ... (Below threshold)

Obama as a 'Community Organizer', has no actual achievements to show for all his 'work'.

The schools in Chicago are still a mess.

The neighborhoods are still dangerous.

There are still gangs.

There are still drugs.

There are those still on welfare for a third or fourth generation.

There is still political corruption and nepotism, rather than merit selection and clean government.

There are still substandard housing units.

Please...show me where Obama the 'community organizer' has actually changed Chicago for the better?

My understanding, largely i... (Below threshold)

My understanding, largely informed by reading Rules for Radicals (which is more or less the bible of the community organizers) is that their job is to find grievances within a community, agitate the people holding the grievances (if necessary, into violence, though it usually stops far short of that), exploit the agitation to alarm the politicians, exploit the alarm to get money channeled to the community organizer's organization, then calm the people they agitated down to show that giving the money got results. Then, repeat the cycle.

The failure of Republican and Libertarian groups to find an effective counter to this essentially Marxist strategy is stunning, given that it's been happening since the 1920s, and is a major force undermining the civic consciousness of our big cities, leading to avoidable misery.

While the national media ha... (Below threshold)

While the national media has done a rotten job of profiling and vetting Obama, not so with local papers in Chicago.

Here is a piece that does delve into Obama's Community Organizer role inbetween college and law school.


It doesn't appear to be a puff piece or a negative one, just the facts as related by all sorts of people interviewed. I have no interpretation other than it is what it is.

So good it has to be said a... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

So good it has to be said again, Eric:

Wouldn't it be great if there was some organization or group that investigated Obama's background as a Community Organizer and perhaps reported back and informed the country as to what a Community Organizer was and what kind of job Barack Obama did as a Community Organizer? Who could we find to do that investigation and has the ability to inform the country?

The media dig into the VP candidates baby and 17-year-old daughter within 2 days of her candidacy yet we still don't know the details of Ayers and Rezko after a year and a half of campaigning. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to start to cover the Wright fiasco.

An ill-informed, slightly r... (Below threshold)

An ill-informed, slightly racist post. Clearly, you have never met a community organizer. Hence the malformed opinions.

But really, this is the path you want to take? Going after community organizers?

That was an excellent Romne... (Below threshold)

That was an excellent Romney putdown of that weaselly little twerp reporter. And, it was exquisitely correct.

And is that what they teach in J-school, that the media guild has been appointed to represents "the people"? Or is that an arrogance that they pick up later on in their profession?

If I were Romney, I would have had to resist the temptation to punch that self-absorbed punk in the face.

It has been pointed out els... (Below threshold)

It has been pointed out elsewhere, that local party activists, the ones that organize caucuses, do get out the vote calling, etc. are community organizers. That includes most of the delegates to both conventions.

"Community Organizer" is si... (Below threshold)

"Community Organizer" is simply the politically correct term to describe the local bagman for the reigning political machine.
Back in the day, they were called "ward heelers".

An ill-informed, s... (Below threshold)
An ill-informed, slightly racist post.

Wonderful logic there. Barack Obama is black. Barack Obama was a community organizer. Therefore any criticism of community organizers is racist.

I didn't refer to Obama one... (Below threshold)

I didn't refer to Obama one iota. If you don't see the racism, then you probably never will.

Conservatives like Jay Tea and Palin are trying to associate community organizers - like Susan B. Anthony, Jesus, MLK, Gandhi - with the ghetto.

What else does "Represent!" mean to you? It's in the damn title.

Jay Tea is just following the lead here on a concerted effort.

If you don't see t... (Below threshold)
If you don't see the racism, then you probably never will.

If you always see the racism, you probably always will.

JT, did you know the word r... (Below threshold)

JT, did you know the word represent meant Ghetto? Wow! Learn something everyday.

Only the libs see race before anything else. ww

Jay Tea you described that ... (Below threshold)
Necromancer Author Profile Page:

Jay Tea you described that completely. A community organizer doesn't do a lot except persuade people and con them out of whatever.Money or votes or signatures;it doesn't matter.

Barak Obama was the directo... (Below threshold)

Barak Obama was the director of a faith based organization called Developing Communities Project (DCP).

If you want to know what it does here is the link.


Jeff Medcalf (#12) has it e... (Below threshold)
jd watson:

Jeff Medcalf (#12) has it exactly right. Community organizer is Saul Alinsky Orwellian newspeak for 'Socialist Agitator'.

I bookmarked guidestar (tha... (Below threshold)

I bookmarked guidestar (thanks, DJ) and decided to give it a whirl and look up Developing Communities Project, Inc.

$396k was their total revenue for 2005
$297k of it was "fees and contracts from government agencies"

$482k was their total revenue for 2006
$380k of it was "fees and contracts from government agencies"

Under "Reason for non-profit foundation status" this box is checked --> An organization that normally receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the public.

Records go back further, but these are the two most recent.

So there ya have it.

I know I'm WAAAAAY late com... (Below threshold)

I know I'm WAAAAAY late commenting, but I discussed "community organizing" on my blog last night: In Defense of Community Organizing.

Community organizing has nothing to do with race hustling, communism, or any of the other mischaracterizations I am reading in the comment thread here.

My criticism of Barack Obama as a "community organizer" stems from the fact that community organizing requires a great deal of commitment and perseverance, and Obama apparently became restless and bored after only three years. He speaks of how those three years reshaped his life, but at the same time his work seems to have been unfulfilling. His contemporaries spoke of him desiring a feeling of achievement, which was not satisfied by his community organizing work.

That being the case, it seems odd that he would use it as major resume padding, since it obviously was something that he felt to be beneath his abilities.






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