The race got shaken up a bit when Palin implied that community organizing, which is one of Obama’s big resume items “proving” his executive abilities, might be a little bit too amorphous a job to justifying entrusting the entire nation to his care. That was amusing, but things became less amusing when digging in the wake of her speech revealed that the Alinsky school of community organizing to which Obama adhered is an ideology devoted to going into communities and encourage the citizens, not to take care of themselves, but to make increasingly strident demands on government. (See here, here and here, for example.)
Knowing that Obama’s community organizing was simple Leftist street activism, it was amusing to receive from a friend an official statement from social workers decrying the incredible insult Palin visited on them when she dared imply that “community organizers” aren’t the most useful people in the world:
The National Association of Social Workers was outraged to hear Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, one of the nation’s vice-presidential candidates, malign in a live international broadcast the work of community organizers.
The social work profession takes great pride in its community organizing roots and lauds the contributions of its members, and other professionals, who commit their careers to helping residents of different communities organize their resources and take social action to improve life for themselves and their families. Small town reformers and urban community organizers have much in common.
The concepts of community organizing, community building and community development undergird the premise of American democracy. As a result of these efforts, institutions and officials often deliver more effective economic growth strategies, as well as mental health, health, and family services for people of all ages.
Community organizing is also the foundation of most successful political campaigns. Meeting fellow Americans in their communities and working with them to find solutions to problems that limit their potential is valuable and necessary work—with significant responsibilities.
What’s especially amusing to me about that little screed is that, almost without exception, the social workers I know work for the government or large care providers. That is, they’re not freelance rabble-rousers who go into a community, swirl up emotions, and then let government take the hit. Instead, they work for school systems and foster care organizations and hospitals and mental health facilities. They’re not community organizers. That’s why it’s so funny that this organization of professionals should take upon itself the mantel of career rabble rousers, and cluck at Palin on Obama’s behalf.
(BTW, please don’t construe this post as an attack on social workers. While the news is occasionally made more depressing by stories of social work gone wrong — usually in the context of abused children — the social workers I know socially and professionally are committed people, who care deeply about the people whom they serve. Instead, I’m poking fun at the political ideology that would have institutional care providers suddenly see themselves as brothers in arms with Alinsky street radicals.)