How can I care, when I don't understand?

Via Ambinder, McClatchy has an interesting article about the success (or lack thereof) of Obama's grassroots campaign in support of his economic stimulus package. Suffice it to say that the interest in organizing in support of a nearly trillion-dollar economics bill is not quite the same as that generated by electing Obama in the first place.

Few supporters are answering President Barack Obama's call for nationwide house-party gatherings this weekend to build grass-roots support for his economic stimulus plan.

A McClatchy survey of sign-up rosters for a score of cities across the country revealed only 34 committed attendees in Tacoma, Wash., as of midafternoon Friday; in Fort Worth, Texas, only 54, and in Sacramento, Calif., just 78.

Ambinder thinks that the article is understating the amount of interest generated, but I'm not so sure. I think it's entirely plausible that the response to the call for house parties is underwhelming, for a variety of reasons.

First of all, the election of a president is a big, exciting and motivating experience. Add in the historic nature of the recent election, and the stakes involved for the country had McCain/Palin been elected, and there was bound to be an unprecedented level of interest and participation. To be fair, I don't think the DNC is using the run-up to the election as a metric, though some of the people in the article seem to be. But there was bound to be a profound drop-off in enthusiasm.

Also, the economy is a confusing mess. I spend way too much time online reading various different perspectives on the stimulus package from a number of sources, and I have no clear idea what I think about most of it. It's baffling and, frankly, intimidating. I can hardly blame the majority of Obama's supporters for feeling put off by the issue, and unmotivated to sign up for action.

Finally, there's a big difference between talking to your friends and neighbors about why you support your candidate, and making what feels like a pointless call to your Senator. (Considering the vote on the asinine DeMint amendment, trying to convince the recalcitrant GOP to support the stimulus package is a bit like spitting into the wind.) I must guiltily admit that, as a Mainer, there's probably more of an argument for me to be involved that most, and I've been serially deleting the various e-mails that crop up in my inbox.

Should more people be involved? Probably, I suppose. (Tune in later, when I tepidly support flossing.) But the size and subject of the bill in question are terribly daunting, and (elitism alert) I would just as soon people not hold forth on a subject they don't understand than flood their Senators' offices with calls because of how high a trillion dollar bills will stack.

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