Grass Roots Politics

I have always thought Obama’s background as a community organizer would help his chances in Iowa. A few hours time will tell if this intuition was right. However, this article, entitled “A Tiny Iowa Paper and One Very Big Name: Obama” by Peter Slevin of the Washington Post, suggests that from its beginnings the Obama campaign has been assiduously focused on the personal dimension of national politics.

What seems most significant to me in this story is the degree to which it is reported that the Obama campaign operates in the mode of attentive listening. This sort of sensitivity to local concerns and local people is a hopeful sign that this candidate is committed to the real concerns of everyday people rather than to the business concerns of corporate lobbyists.

Although I remain too cynical to think that a politician could be elected in the US who turns a deaf ear to corporate interests, at least it would be nice to know that voices of traditionally less influence are also being heard.

This sort of personal politics need not be naive. In fact, there are signs that Obama’s strong grass roots connections will allow him to succeed in Iowa because he has empowered his precinct captains to make deals with delegates committed to other candidates, like Kucinich, Biden and Richardson. This seems to be a powerful strategy for success in Iowa.

Success in the larger, richer states, however, will require that this grass roots approach take hold on a much broader scale. A victory in Iowa would be the first step in broadening the field of political participants in the United States.

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