Monday, September 08, 2008

While Wondering What Parts of that Community Required Organizing....

Last week, vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin delivered many effective zingers at the Republican National Convention. One of the best, and one of those that most irritated many on the left, was this:

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.

Barrack Obama's supporters have complained about this mockery of community organizers, claiming that persons in those positions provide valuable public services. Yet, Democrats regularly made fun of former House Majority Whip Tom Delay's previous job running a pest control company, and no one should underestimate the public service provided by someone who kills roaches in Houston.

They fly down there, you know.

Nonetheless, it is easy to question the value of community organizers, because, I would think, the vast majority of Americans have never met anyone with that job title. I never have, and I've touched most sectors of the American economy, both blue and white collar, over the course of my career. The job title is not listed in the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. Someone who has never met anyone with such a title might question whether that is a job that really results in a paycheck. It reminds me of a friend from some years ago whose husband was a square dance caller. Whenever she introduced him, she had to explain that it was something that a person could actually make a living at.

And, those not on the inside of the community organizing industry might wonder if the occupational title is nothing more than a nice way of saying rabble rouser. The title is vague enough that it likely means a variety of things in different contexts. In that regard, it is sort of like being referred to as an "analyst."

Regardless of all of that, it seems that in the past Sen. Obama was less than thrilled by the impact -- and the remuneration -- of his work organizing communities. For a nicely researched look back, see here.

Hat Tip: Mike Hashimoto


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