Obama’s Carrot & Stick Approach to Congress

President Barack Obama has, as discussed before and elsewhere, built up a huge list of supporters who want to engage with him.  Now, we’re finally seeing how he’s going to use it on the good side.

As you may remember from earlier posts, I’m signed up with the Obama database as living in Alexandria, VA (where I volunteered on the campaign).  On Monday, I got an email from Mitch Stewart, Director of Organizing for America, which took over the mantle of Obama for America after the election.  Here’s the text:

Keith —

President Obama launched the most ambitious effort to stimulate the economy in our nation’s history when he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Tuesday.

Your representatives need to hear from you when they vote for the change you mandated in November. Doing what’s right can be thankless when the culture of Washington tries to make political games out of the issues that matter to everyday Americans.

You’re part of a powerful grassroots movement that can change that dynamic. According to our records, you live in Virginia’s 8th district.

Rep. James Moran, Sen. James Webb, and Sen. Mark Warner’s votes were crucial to passing the bill and creating and saving jobs in Virginia.

Can you pick up the phone right now to thank Rep. Moran, Sen. Webb, and Sen. Warner?

Rep. James Moran

Sen. James Webb

Sen. Mark Warner

Report your call. (link)

Here are some suggested talking points for your call:

– I’m calling to thank [Congress member’s name] for supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
– I’ll be watching closely online and in the news how taxpayers’ money is spent in the implementation of this Act.
– I encourage [Congress member’s name] to continue working with President Obama to lift America out of this economic crisis.

After your call, please record your feedback here:


We still have a long way to go, but working together we were able to take this important first step.

With the plan in place, more than 2 million people will be lifted out of poverty, 20 million at risk of losing their health care will be protected, and 3.5 million jobs will be created or saved.

There will be plenty more ways for you to contribute in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you for your continued support,


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

This is the carrot.  Senators and Congressmen who behave themselves will get praise, and of course the opportunity to open a dialogue with their own constituents too.

As for the stick?  Wait until we get the emails telling us that the local Congressman (of whatever party) is blocking Obama’s new health policy, and that it would be helpful for his constituents to let him know their opinion…

(Aside: Senator Mark Warner, D-VA, mentioned above, is a regular Twitterer – good communications channel for those interested in knowing what their Senator is doing)

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