Putting the campaign to good (post-election) use

PUTTING THE CAMPAIGN TO GOOD (POST-ELECTION) USE…. Barack Obama’s political operation was, obviously, both impressive and effective. But now that the campaign is over, what’s to be done with the political infrastructure and the people who made it so impressive?

Apparently, it’s going to be used to pass sweeping healthcare reform.

Barack Obama’s incoming administration has begun to draw on the high-tech organizational tools that helped get him elected to lay the groundwork for an attempt to restructure the U.S. health-care system.

Former senator Thomas A. Daschle, Obama’s point person on health care, launched an effort to create political momentum yesterday in a conference call with 1,000 invited supporters culled from 10,000 who had expressed interest in health issues, promising it would be the first of many opportunities for Americans to weigh in.

The health-care mobilization taking shape before Obama even takes office will include online videos, blogs and e-mail alerts as well as traditional public forums. Already, several thousand people have posted comments on health on the Obama transition Web site…. It is the first attempt by the Obama team to harness its vast and sophisticated grass-roots network to shape public policy.

Daschle, in particular, is intent on “marrying old-fashioned Washington-style lobbying and cutting-edge social-networking technologies.”

The NDN’s Simon Rosenberg told the Post, “This is the beginning of the reinvention of what the presidency in the 21st century could be. This will reinvent the relationship of the president to the American people in a way we probably haven’t seen since FDR’s use of radio in the 1930s.”

True, but will it work? I’m cautiously optimistic. The powerful interests that are going to resist the reform efforts are going to invest heavily in one thing: scaring the hell out of people. A political operation the size and scope of Obama’s will come in pretty handy.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.