Now that Obama is a former US President, he and wife Michelle have an official website, barackobama.com. The home page has a beautiful picture of the Obamas taken from the vantage point of the Oval Office balcony. The two are arm-in-arm, looking out over the Washington monument. Toward the bottom of the screen there are three clickable logos. One of them is Organizing For Action or OFA.us.
On its surface, the 501(c)(4) OFA professes dedication to mobilizing and training the next generation of progressive organizers and leaders. The group describes itself as a “non-partisan, issue advocacy organization committed to growing the grassroots movement” and “empowering action takers with the skills and tools needed to tip the scales of power back to the American people and away from the special interests in Washington, D.C.”
The issues list reads like a briefing from the Obama White House: climate change, immigration reform, protecting Obamacare, gun violence, and gay marriage, yet OFA seems to gloss over its association with Barack Obama, despite the huge image of him on the home page. The group says that the Obama legacy as a grassroots organizer inspired the founding of OFA in January 2013 to make progress on the agenda the American people voted for in 2012. Furthermore, the group describes its advisory board as “a diverse coalition of leaders as varied as the grassroots movement it represents…from community organizers to business leaders to issue advocates”. Basically this is a nationwide version of Obama community organizing; the group professes to have more than 250 grassroots chapters in neighborhoods across the country.
But are they more than just an innocent grass roots effort? OFA is providing step-by-step directions for disrupting Republican lawmakers on Spring recess regarding the repeal of ObamaCare. The guide talks about spreading out to make your numbers look bigger, and it does say to remain respectful. However, that is not always happening, as Jason Chaffetz found out in his February 9 town hall in his home state of Utah. Chaffetz described the protesters as “a paid attempt to bully and intimidate.” Chaffetz said they were organizing online a couple of days before as a concerted effort to cause chaos. Chaffetz said the furious crowds will stop at nothing to bring Trump down, and were even angrier when he said he would not abuse his position to perform a fishing-expedition to dig up dirt on Trump.
With the smokescreen that is OFA, Obama could effectively stay in “power” for years to come. It’s a bit like staying on stage after a curtain call.