Wasn't Jesus a Community Organizer?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
In otherwise strong performances by Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, I was struck by the sneering arrogance in their dismissal of community organizers and the rabid reaction of the GOP audience.
Weren't Jesus and Mother Teresa community organizers? Didn't they, in the words of Palin, have "actual responsibilities?" Aren't Evangelicals such as this group "Christians for Community Organizing" or this group "Evangelicals for Social Action" dedicated to community organizing? Aren't faith based initiatives built on community organizing?
Look for the Obama team to use the GOP's arrogant dismissal of community organizing as another example of how McCain & company are out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of Americans.
UPDATE: An hour after filing this post, as I predicted, the Obama campaign hit back on the community organizing angle. From an email that is sure to be part of media talking points:
Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.
Let's clarify something for them right now.
Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.
And it's no surprise that, after eight years of George Bush, millions of people have found that by coming together in their local communities they can change the course of history. That promise is what our campaign has been about from the beginning.
Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America's promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. And it's happening today in church basements and community centers and living rooms across America.
Meanwhile, we still haven't gotten a single idea during the entire Republican convention about the economy and how to lift a middle class so harmed by the Bush-McCain policies.
It's now clear that John McCain's campaign has decided that desperate lies and personal attacks -- on Barack Obama and on you -- are the only way they can earn a third term for the Bush policies that McCain has supported more than 90 percent of the time.