by Guest Contributor Tariq Nelson, originally published at TariqNelson.com
Presidential Vice-Presidential Candidate Governor Palin and former Presidential candidate Rudolph Guiliani lampooned community organizers and the important work they do in their communities. Are they so out of touch that they do not realize that teachers, PTA members, football coaches and non-profit volunteers also have “actual responsibilities” too? Do they not realize – in their desire to smear – that these people have families as well? These people have love for their communities and strive to improve their own lives by improving the lives of others.
Well, community organizers across the country are upset at these snide attacks on them and their work and some have written on this issue. The Palin Campaign can continue to attack community volunteers and organizers at their own peril.
Community organizers across America, taken aback by a series of attacks from Republican leaders at the GOP convention in St. Paul, came together today to defend their work organizing Americans who have been left behind by unemployment, lack of health insurance and the national housing crisis. The organizers demanded an apology from Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for her statement that community organizers have no “actual responsibilities” and launched a web site to defend themselves against Republican attacks.
“Community organizers work in neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the failing economy,” said John Raskin, founder of Community Organizers of America and a community organizer on the West Side of Manhattan. “The last thing we need is for Republican officials to mock us on television when we’re trying to rebuild the neighborhoods they have destroyed. Maybe if everyone had more houses than they can count, we wouldn’t need community organizers. But I work with people who are getting evicted from their only home. If John McCain and the Republicans understood that, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to make fun of community organizers like me.”
Though many people are unfamiliar with community organizing, the job is both straightforward and vital: community organizers work with families who are struggling–because of low wages, poor health coverage, unaffordable housing, and other community problems–so that collectively, they can fix those problems and make government respond to their day-to-day concerns. Organizers knock on doors, attend community meetings, visit churches and synagogues and mosques, and work with unions and civic groups and block associations to help ordinary people build power and counter the influence of self-interested insiders and highly paid lobbyists at all levels of government.