May 13th, 2009

On Leaving

by Philip Baruth

Did something this morning that made me feel conflicted and strange: I set up a filter to screen out messages from Organizing for America, once the campaign and now the political arm of the Obama Administration. Not that these filters are anything new. I set four or five a day, to help thin the stream of unsolicited communications and spam. But not so long ago, email from felt different and necessary, and I read it with real pleasure.

There was a nice immediacy to the notes; they reflected very recent political victories, or immediately impending events. They felt like real communications, personal yet historic. And so filtering felt faintly — just faintly — like betrayal.

But only for a minute.

Because then I read a very coherent post on this precise topic by Ari Melber, linking to an even sharper Personal Democracy Forum post by Zephyr Teachout back in January, making the same case about the way the Obama administration was then attempting to deploy its online activists in support of the stimulus package.

Teachout’s take? This massive, homogenized email effort coming now from within the White House is doomed to failure. And that’s a very good thing. Well worth the read.