Election 2008
4:54 am
Thu September 4, 2008

Community Organizing Versus Elected Office

Albany, NY – Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's speech last night at the Republican National Convention drew stark contrasts between elected office and community organizing.

Making the claim that community organizing is not as important a skill as governing from office is a "dangerous" claim in this election, according to Dr. Angela Ledford, associate professor of political science at the College of St. Rose in Albany. Ledford was speaking on the VoxPop show on WAMC radio.

During the speech, Palin made what is considered a barb against Barack Obama, who was a community organizer in Chicago.

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," Palin said in the speech.

"There is a racial, a class, a gendered bias there, because so much of where working class people, people of color and women have found their voice and have been able to make changes in their community has been at the community organizing level. So much of that fundamental change is happening form the bottom up. To denigrate that is getting a little bit dangerous. It's dangerous on both sides to be pulling out this experience card... there are voids on [both of] those tickets," Ledford said.

Experience outside of elected office is equally important for governing skill in politics, Ledford stated.

"If we're going to talk about experience, I think we have to go about experience that goes beyond elected office. This is not the only way people engage in public service," she said.