I received a vaguely creepy email a few days ago from one Jeremy Bird of Organizing for America, asking me to apply for a summer grassroots training program that "aims to put boots on the ground and help foster a new generation of leaders."
Participants will undergo an "intensive training program", the email cryptically went on, be assigned to a specific community, and recruit volunteers who will be organized "street by street, (to) knock on doors...do what it takes to support the President's agenda." (kind of sounds like the U.S. Military Academy's summer "Beast Barracks" weeks of hellish, intensive training in the trenches, huh?)
"It takes hard work to build a movement around a cause," Bird added. He didn't explain what the "cause" was, but we may safely assume it is the continued reign of Barack Obama.
It is baffling that Obama, who has sold himself out to corporations and filled his cabinet with Wall Street insiders, would even dream of again enlisting volunteers to knock on doors for him. It worked out so well in 2008, because he was able to fool so many people into working the phones, parting with their hard-earned money $25 at a time, and believing his message of change.
This latest outreach to common "folks" smacks of an attempt to resurrect, or reinvent, an Obama Personality Cult. The tone is decidedly militaristic - be a soldier for the cause, boots on the ground - although there is no mention of wearing a uniform of any kind.
The rewards of the job presumably include the off-chance of an actual meeting, someday, with the president. According to the email:
"Summer organizer Paras Patel had an unforgettable experience - meeting President Obama at an event in Detroit. 'He shook my hand and told me he was proud of me and appreciated the work I was doing.... Meeting the president was definitely a surprise and something I will never forget!' "
The email concluded, "Successful movements have always been built and grown by ordinary people who take responsibility for organizing their fellow citizens to make their voices heard. We're looking for folks who are willing to work hard to support the President's agenda and lay new groundwork to carry this movement forward for years to come."
(there's that creepy "folks" word again....derived from the German fulka (people's army) and volk, with a German nationalistic context. Beware of politicians using this word - they use it in an overfamiliar, condescending way to draw you in to their little cozy webs.)
Incidentally, there is no indication of any actual salary involved in marching for Obama, nor are we told why a sitting president is in need of a so-called movement, nor what agenda we are supposed to be supporting. Are we expected to knock on people's doors and enthuse about the two-year pay freeze for federal employees? Are we supposed to propagandize for the continued spying on ordinary American citizens? Do they honestly expect volunteers to approach strangers and cheerfully talk about the race for the top, Winning the Future, why we had to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? Are they willing to supply their unpaid lackeys with Kevlar vests and security details?
I am afraid the Obama Army will be about as welcome at the front doors of America as the Jehovah's Witnesses.