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Monday, June 30, 2008

Not What the Coders Intended?

posted by on June 30 at 16:40 PM

When people marvel at the Obama campaign, they often talk about how he’s built a parallel MySpace, MyBarackObama, which allows members of the Obama-supporting community to form networks within the larger Obama online network—fundraising networks, canvassing networks, rapid response networks.

Here’s a network the creators of probably didn’t count on: A group of Obama supporters who are now urging him, via his own web site, to vote no on the controversial FISA bill. (Click here to catch yourself up on FISA-related outrage.)

Over at The Nation, Ari Melber points out that this group is now one of the biggest on Obama’s site:

Since launching last week, the protest group, “Senator Obama Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right,” swelled to one of the ten largest campaign groups…

One Democratic Internet consultant predicted that Obama’s reaction could reveal his commitment to meaningful engagement with supporters. “How Obama responds will tell us a great deal about both his willingness to listen to input from his supporters and what influence the MyBarackObama community has on the campaign itself,” said the operative, who wished to remain anonymous while working on another campaign. “In the meantime, this is a huge opportunity for Obama’s supporters to organize around an issue, not just the candidate, and take action beyond using their credit card.”

I don’t think anyone should be holding his or her breath waiting for Obama to reverse himself on FISA, but the ingenuity of the anti-FISA types might serve as a model for other groups—say, gays, death penalty opponents, and Muslims, to name a few from a growing list—who have come up with reasons to have beef with Obama in recent days.

Which raises the question: If, sometime in the next five months, some group of upset liberals urging an Obama policy change on one issue or another becomes the largest collective voice on, will the candidate be forced to change his stance? Could a man who owes so much to his webby supporters afford not to?

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I would hope not. Setting aside how I feel about FISA, let's remember that Obama is currently a Senator. The residents of Illinois who elected him to the Senate are his constituency and those are the people he represents in his lawmaking duties -- not his fans, not members of his Presidential campaign site and not the entire US.

Posted by Hammish | June 30, 2008 4:54 PM

So the citizens of Illinois are for illegal wire taps? Not any I know of...

Posted by Al | June 30, 2008 5:11 PM

@2 Not my point at all. I'm just saying he should represent the people who elected him to the Senate, not the people who belong to his website.

Posted by Hammish | June 30, 2008 5:15 PM

Hammish is right. I'm against FISA too, but the day Obama starts obeying a tiny handful of web activists is the day I dump him as a candidate.

Posted by Fnarf | June 30, 2008 5:23 PM

r u joking? loosen up.

Oh btw if this he flip flops due to web site pressure headlines will scream Obama caves in to left" making him less electable.

He was against the bill then for it then against it etc. etc.

Would suggest everyone just work on getting him elected. Then pressure him on the web.

Posted by PC | June 30, 2008 5:28 PM

only a mybarackobama group of fortune 500 corporations would get his (or any senator's) attention.

Posted by max solomon | June 30, 2008 5:28 PM

People are being short-sighted. All of these holier-than-thou groups are going to ensure McCain selects the next 2 or more Supremes. And what will happen to the rights they currently have?

Posted by All Gone | June 30, 2008 6:35 PM


If you aren't mad as hell over a bunch of pussy ass democrats cowing before our great (27%) leader, you're retarded.

Justify it however you want, "ohhh well that McCain guy IS WORSE@@@@!!!" but we're being fed the same bullshit from both two plates.

Hand over your constitutional rights, sit back, and watch some reality TV.

Posted by Angry | June 30, 2008 6:46 PM

The FISA flap reminds me of how the netroots thought the McClurkin flareup would spell the end of Obama's campaign.

Posted by ru shur | June 30, 2008 6:49 PM

People are confused about their roles. It is the job of the politician to make the tough decisions. It is the job of the activist, and to an extent, the media, to make the decisions tough.

Obama is already a centrist Democrat on many, many issues and that is why he is the Democratic nominee. Those too far ahead of the party and too strident on issues shine brightly and then flame out--see Dean, Jesse Jackson, Eugene McCarthy, etc.

The power of big money and the presidency itself will make Obama increasingly centrist both during the campaign and in the White House. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Obama offers hope for new ways of looking at issues but his record in the Senate doesn't suggest he will change government policy on any large scale soon.

Activists must hold Obama accountable for his stands on the issues dear to them. If they do not he will gradually drift to the center right. Because those noisy, mean right wingers won't stop hammering at him like many on the left of him. Every poll on specific issues like health care, the war, the environment, etc. shows overwhelming support among voters for change. Yet our media paints things like universal health care as radical left ideas.

In a sense this is part of the maturing process for Barack Obama and his campaign. Like any relationship people have there is usually a beer-goggly honeymoon phase, but then you start to look at people as whole people a bit more critically.

To beat John McCain in November doesn't mean you don't care what stands or positions Obama takes to get there. It means that if you are critical of a position Barack Obama has, you should tell him so. You should also tell him what you are doing to get him elected and why. When Bush invaded Iraq he did so because he could. The media failed to ask the tough questions and accepted the lies and rationales from the administration on blind faith. And as the Boss says, blind faith will get you killed.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | June 30, 2008 10:53 PM

Bill Clinton had the first "Sister Soulja moment" where he attacked a black person just to prove to everyone that he could and would attack a black person gratuitously just for the hell of it when there wasn't really any point.

Obama this week is running a kind of "Sister Soulja clock punching", attacking Move-On just to prove he could and would attack a supporter for no useful purpose other than so show the corporate right he was willing to gratuitiously attack a lefty supporter without a necessity. And he attacked Wes Clark totally unnecessarily just to prove he wasn't going to be beholden to "dirty fucking hippies." And this FISA thing... right. I think he's already paying up his bill to the corporate masters I had finally convinced myself he might be more free of.

I have a coworker telling me to take a deep breath and wait. At best we get health care and out of Iraq. But watching his back-knifing of his sane supporters doesn't have me holding my breath.

This isn't just a "move to the center" - it is a betrayal that he wants someone to see very clearly.

Posted by cracked | June 30, 2008 11:13 PM

Is there a mybarackobama group against this yet?:


Posted by Levislade | July 1, 2008 8:43 AM

The FISA bill is so foul that anything we can do to kill it deserves a look.

Posted by Greg | July 1, 2008 11:20 AM

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