Monday, February 02, 2009

Where Rubber Meets Road

Today I received an email, as did many of you, from the Obama team about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

It differs from the many emails sent before in that, for the first time, post-Inauguration, they are asking for action. This is the turn--the first test of whether the enthusiasm for sacrifice shown during the campaign and post-election period will actually translate into the actions of a populace--one willing to act on what they enthusiastically endorsed, one that is committed beyond fulfilling emotions, brief, self-gratifying opinion-making and the next entertainment--the actions, as Obama has briefly tested the phrase--of a movement.

This is where we see if the pleasure people took in voicing opinions, and experiencing change translates into active behavior in the interest of the nation. Work--where the rubber hits the road.

I have to say that, from a psychological point of view, when we consider that this is the first time that American citizens will be asked to be so broadly mobilized for such an event, outside of a campaign's carrying enthusiasm, in more than a generation--and given their preparation for action and sacrifice by the last Administration--the email is short on agenda.

Without it, and with very little practice or preparation for doing this in the past, the very real risk is that most Americans won't know quite what to do--and in that moment, in such a situation, the best predictor of behavior is past behavior--e.g., watch TV, someone else will do it, not sure how to act, hope it works out, maybe I'll do something later--and a critical defining opportunity will be lost, while another one occurs: that email that asks one to do something that sounds nice, something that they never do, instead of the email that enables them to continue to carry forward their enthusiasm and commitment with clear action.

People know how to act during a campaign--cheer and enthuse and enjoy the contest and battle of opinions, glorying in their superior knowledge. They don't know how to galvanize these thoughts and emotions for a bill--especially in a house meeting, something that will feel new and undefined itself.

Nevertheless--I'm in. I worked for this and I want it to work. So I'll provide the agenda:


Talked the talk? Walk the walk. Come to the Georgetown House Meeting on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act


1) INTRODUCTION: Understanding the Act and its key initiatives.

2) CONGRESS: identifying and contacting key members of Senate; developing key arguments for vulnerable members

3) MEDIA: Broadcast (Radio/TV) and Cable: Identification and development of local and national stories/narratives describing how the Act will support families and communities
New Media: Development of Twitter and Facebook campaigns (Facebook app?), short-form video to support the Act

4) SUMMARY AND ACTION PLAN: Detail team and individual actions for the above and point persons for completion and follow-up

Where: Dr. Alan J. Lipman
1010 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
The Waterfront Center, Georgetown
Suite 320
Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, February 7th, 2-4 pm.

The Waterfront Center is located along the Potomac in Georgetown, on the corner of K Street and Wisconsin. There is metered parking directly in front of the new Georgetown Park, as well as a parking garage.

Call to RSVP: 202-423-6153