Thursday, September 04, 2008

Community Organizers and Actual Responsibilities

I have a bone to pick with Hockey Mom Regular Jane Sarah Palin. That bone has to do with the fact that she really doesn't sound like that much of a Regular Jane to me. At least, not with this nifty quote from her ROUSING EXCITING DOWN HOME SPEECH~! from the other night:

Palin, 44, contrasted her experience as a self-described “small-town mayor” with that of the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

“Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves,” Palin said. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”
Really, Ms. Palin? Is that your opinion of community organizers? That they don't really do anything; have no real responsibilities? I mean, I get that it's a 7th grade-level attack at Obama, and bravo for whomever was reminiscing about climbing the rope in gym class when they came up with that gem. But I find it laughable that you think such a quote is going to help paint you as the average ordinary populist that you want to present yourself as.

You see, I actually know some community organizers. I've worked alongside some of the people that you just dismissed as irrelevant, lazy, irresponsible, and not having real experience. And I can tell you that they're anything but.

I've met some of them in inner-city Philadelphia, where community organizers are running soup kitchens and homeless shelters. They stop randomly to talk to people who need a place to stay and get to know them. They run AA meetings and cook meals and make pleas to stock food pantries.

I've worked with them in the Camp Washington neighborhood of Cincinnati, where they host weekly cookouts for the neighborhood kids, organize groups to clean up vacant lots and abandoned houses, and run thrift stores.

I've worked with them in Berea, Ohio, where they load up boxes of food to take to impoverished households. They regularly share meals in these families' homes to keep up with how they're doing and what they need.

I've worked with them in New Orleans, where they rely heavily on church groups to come down and do a lot of the rebuilding. I've seen them run from site to site delivering power tools and other supplies. They coordinate churches for these groups to stay in and match skills to needs.

That's to say nothing of the mission church pastor in Akron, the Habitat for Humanity staff in various Ohio counties such as Wayne, Medina, Summit, and Stark, the Heifer Project International farm in Worcester, Massachusetts, and my own ministerial association as we try to keep up with the demand at our own food pantry (which, by the way, has become nearly unmanageable as of late...will your policies help those our organization serves?).

So not only have you pooh-poohed so many people whom I've seen work long hours to meet their communities' needs, organize volunteers, keep their stress levels in check, and work sometimes on shoestring budgets, you've just dissed me. With a single line that was probably approved solely for its Obama Zing Factor, you've minimalized the efforts that thousands of organizations and individuals across the country are making in their own contexts to make life more livable for those less fortunate.

I shudder to think that anyone would find you as being truly "for the people" after such a comment.

But hey, it was a funny dig. Ha. Ha ha.

No. Not really.