I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.This caused the Obamanaics to come up with the (admittedly good at first sight) rejoinder - Jesus was a community organizer, Pilate was a governor. However the response doesn't stand up for long when you consider that Jesus actually did not organize his "community" to counter Roman Imperialism or slavery or any of the other injustices of life in palestine 2000 years ago. About the only "change" that Jesus actually tried to implement was to clear out the corrupt priests, money changers etc. in the temple and arguably that was what led to the Jewish leadership getting Pilate to crucify him on mostly trumped up charges.
... Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed--job training, help with housing and so forth--from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work--the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a "task from God.")
This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man's decision "to serve a cause greater than himself," in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate's favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service--the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other--as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.However the description at TNR makes it clear that Obama was disillusioned with community organizing because it didn't actually work:
Obama attempted to put these principles into practice in South Chicago. Kellman and Kruglik's initial objective was to revive the region's manufacturing base--and preserve what remained of its steel industry--by working with unions and church groups to pressure companies and the city; but those hopes were quickly dashed. Indeed, during his three years in South Chicago, Obama was constantly having to scale back his objectives as one project after another faltered. First, he got community members to demand a job center that would provide job referrals, but there were few jobs to distribute. Then, he tried to create what he called a "second-level consumer economy" in Roseland consisting of shops, restaurants, and theaters. This, too, went nowhere. At that point, Kellman advised Obama to move elsewhere. "Stay here, and you are bound to fail," he told him.
But Obama remained. Next, he began to focus on providing social services for Altgeld Gardens. "We didn't yet have the power to change state welfare policy, or create local jobs, or bring substantially more money into the schools," he wrote. "But what we could do was begin to improve basic services at Altgeld--get the toilets fixed, the heaters working, the windows repaired." Obama helped the residents wage a successful campaign to get the Chicago Housing Authority to promise to remove asbestos from the units; but, after an initial burst of activity, the city failed to keep its promise. (As of last year, some residences still had not been cleared of asbestos.) In waging these campaigns, Obama's organization added staff, gained adherents, and won church support, including from the congregation of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But it failed to stem the area's overall decline. "Ain't nothing gonna change, Mr. Obama," says one resident quoted in Dreams from My Father who grows disillusioned with the Developing Communities Project. "We just gonna concentrate on saving our money so we can move outta here as fast as we can."So while yes it is admirable that Obama did some community organizing (A for effort, A for hear in right place) it is also worth pointing out that it had minimal results (F for changes implemented).
2) Review of Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) documents shows that Ayers and Obama each chaired the two CAC operating bodies from 1995 to 2000
3) CAC was at heart of Chicago school “wars” in 90s
4) CAC handed out more than $100 million in Chicago school system
5) CAC failed to improve student achievement but Ayers and Obama’s political goals were tackled
In 2003 the final technical report of the CCSR on the CAC was published. The results were not pretty. The “bottom line” according to the report was that the CAC did not achieve its goal of improvement in student academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes. While student test scores improved in the so-called Annenberg Schools that received some of the $150 million disbursed in the six years from 1995 to 2001,
“This was similar to improvement across the system….There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement.”