Central Europe Activ

Eurpoeans can join change.org

Change.orgThe American president-elect has two sites: change.gov to help the transition to his administration, and change.org to maintain involvement in his campaign. Foreign nationals, including us, Europeans, can join in and try to influence the new American policies.

The idea that a president-elect is fishing for policy ideas on the internet sounds a bit scary to me for the first sight, and it reinforces those views that Mr. Obama has a charming character but no political program or policies. On the other hand, I found it very interesting that a global leader opens up his campaigning platform for the rest of the world. Change.org maybe a campaign tool, but it is indeed a two-way street, and if people are not listened to, it may be very easily subverted. Some of its causes, like climate change or stopping genocide may have a truly global effect and followship. Even if you believe that change.org is rather a campaigning and fundraising tool than a real political platform, it is populated by motivated American and foreign citizens who can exchange views. Europeans participating in this experience may have a marginal effect on shaping the views of the American public.

As an experiment, I started an action under Stop Genocide: the US join the International Criminal Court. I think this is a European message that has cross-party support in Europe (excpet for the Czech, I guess) and this action would be very welcome by the European public and American allies, regardless of our political views.

Correction: As Corina commented rightly below, change.org is not officially affiliated to the Democratic Party. However, they proved to be an effective campaigning tool for Mr. Obama, and they do not want to break this bond: “President-Elect Obama says he wants to hear ideas from all Americans, so we’re taking him up on his offer. Submit your ideas for how to change America, discuss with others, and vote for your favorites. The “Top 10 Ideas for America” will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day.” In the meantime, change.gov has a parallel fishing for ideas.

Hat tip: Corina Murafa

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  1. An extremely good idea, Antal! I did not discover a clear link to Barack Obama on the Change.org website, however. Change.org is one of the many sympathetic American grassroots initiatives. I saw that they are willing to listen to us, Europeans. I agree 100% with you, that we should live up to the occasion and I support your choice of subject (the International Criminal Court). I’ll make my contribution, but do not expect that we will be able to weigh directly upon Obamas decisions…

  2. Thanks for commenting on this, Daniel! It happens that I know personally the guys that initiated change.org. Formally, they are not linked in any way with Obama. Actually, change.org started long before Obama was even considering running for presidency, but the people behind it (most of them linked to Northwestern University in Chicago) were indeed liberals, more sort of left-oriented. They were doing some amazing development work in Africa, were very globally conscious, and so on. So Obama suited them like a glove. My suspicion is that they started cooperating with Obama (though nothing’s official yet) later, and then their cross-initiatives came as unofficial campaigning efforts; now it looks like they’ve turned more into some sort of partisan grassroot initiative. From what I know, the coincidence in names is just a coincidence :) But they offer a great bunch of really cool information.

  3. Corina, as far as I know, Obama has considered running for the presidency already in kindergarten….) Anyway, thanks for the correction to you and Huib Riethof, too, I try to trace down the more precise link between change.gov and change.org. I’ve already recruited six Americans for the cause to press for the ICC ratification in the US :)

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