In an unusually aggressive move, Organizing for America announced Wednesday that it is mobilizing its volunteer army to confront the 32 Republican legislators who voted against health care reform — despite representing districts that voted for Obama.
The pressure campaign is designed "to remind these members that voters in their districts voted for change last year," explain OFA officials, "and urge them to reconsider their position when the House votes again on a final bill later this year."
The program calls on OFA activists to visit the district offices of their members. OFA officials say the effort will begin "as early as" Thursday and continue through next week. At the height of the presidential campaign, OFA’s supporter list topped 13 million, making it the largest political network of its kind.
OFA Director Mitch Stewart describes the effort as the more confrontational side of bipartisan promise in the Obama era.
"The message was clear in these districts: Americans want change, and they expect their Representatives to work with President Obama and reach across the aisle to help deliver it," he said. Last weekend’s GOP opposition to health care reform shows that these members are standing "with the insurance companies and right wing pundits to put politics above doing the right thing," he added.
That’s unusually sharp language from OFA, which has prioritized positive lobbying appeals and "thank you" messages to Congress thus far. (OFA’s homepage currently features fireworks and splashy invitations to "thank your member of Congress," which is the topline message for people who don’t live in one of the 32 districts.) For some time, there has been rumbling among Obama supporters and the political digeratti about OFA holding back too much, and asking supporters to take "actions" that were purely symbolic.
Back in May, actually, I argued that OFA should be more aggressive, more willing to target Republicans by geography, and more careful with soliciting symbolism:
…asking millions of Obama’s strongest supporters to simply sign petitions, regardless of their location, ambition and ability, is surely redundant and probably wasteful. Take an activist in a Democratic House district in a Blue state — why should she be pressuring Congress if her representatives are already backing Obama’s plan? (If anything, those members would be willing to go further towards single-payer.) A blanket national petition drive is redundant for many supporters, and it fails to target people in the areas where more visible pressure is desperately needed.