Organizing for Action (OfA), the new activist organization into which Obama’s campaign was folded, is holding local demonstrations in favor of immigration reform at congressional offices across the country. One such rally was held in West Los Angeles during lunch hour on Thursday outside the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The OfA demonstration only attracted roughly fifteen participants, including the organizers. However, as they waved homemade signs and American flags, they attracted honks and waves from some drivers passing through the busy intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard, near the 405 freeway.
The impact of such demonstrations on local opinion is limited; no media other than Breitbart News showed up to cover the event. The primary target, however, appears to be the participants themselves, who experience a sense of enthusiasm and renewed commitment as a result of staging a successful demonstration.
During the 2012 campaign, the Obama campaign used such positive reinforcement to drive organizing, social media, and fundraising, building on the classic community organizing principle that having people do something is more effective in ensuring their continued commitment than making them believe something.
Advanced data mining technology was used to measure the participation of Obama supporters, as well as to recruit new supporters. However, the theory behind the Obama campaign’s success was as low-tech as Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Taking intermediate actions builds toward the final, desired action (voting).
As Republicans rebuild for the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential campaign, the focus remains on new technology. Little attention, however, has been paid to the success of the underlyng community organizing methods of OFA–or the Tea Party victories of 2010, which borrowed many leftist tactics.