The White House is pulling a tactic out of its campaign playbook – and President Obama’s own community organizing past – using the organs of government to enlist average Americans to help Obama advocate for his priorities.
In an email sent to people who signed up to receive official updates from the White House, recipients are told to forward the message to their friends, asking them to help promote what is in effect White House propaganda. The White House email list, which government officials began compiling earlier in Obama’s term, is separate from the famed Obama campaign email list, but recipients are nonetheless being asked to engage in partisan political activity.
The email, sent out Friday, presents a video of Obama in the East Room earlier the same day making his case as negotiations with Republicans are set to begin on the budget stalemate that could lead to massive spending cuts known as “the fiscal cliff.”
The unsigned missive asserts:
Now you have a choice to make. This debate can either stay trapped in Washington DC, or you can make sure your friends and neighbors participate. You’ve shown that getting people outside of Washington involved shifts the conversation in favor of the middle-class priorities.
As the President just said, let’s get to work.
The message carries a veneer of nonpartisanship, asking people “no matter where you stand” to share the video with others, “no matter their political background.”
But the attempt to use the government to organize a mass campaign with a partisan message benefitting the president is obvious. The email states:
The President (in the video) lays out a clear strategy to move the country forward — past the dysfunction and into a future built on a strong middle class.
What’s more, the effort to get people to act regardless of their political affiliation can serve to broaden Obama’s base.
The email is part of a larger campaign by Obama to gin up support outside the Beltway for his position on cutting the deficit. According to several news outlets, Obama will travel outside Washington trying to convince Americans to back him.