Barack Obama: Starting Forced Volunteerism Early

If you want to go see Barack Obama speak on the last night of the Democratic National Convention, you’ll have to agree to be the guinea pig for his first exercise in forced volunteerism:

Some of those hoping to wrangle a seat for Barack Obama’s speech were told this week they have to put in six hours of volunteer work for his campaign by Friday to have a shot at a ticket.

And that ruffled at least a few feathers.

“My whole reason why I’m so mad about it is because Democrats need to act like Democrats,” said Heather Kreider, a working mother from Centennial.

“Democrats work for a living, and they have to work and take care of their families. And they say these are open to those in the community, so they shouldn’t ask people to drop everything in their lives for this,” Kreider said Tuesday.

“It’s not fair. It’s elitist. And they need to practice what they’re preaching,” she added,

Doing the volunteer work only makes someone eligible for a ticket and doesn’t guarantee one, according to the phone message from the campaign.


People asked to volunteer are those in line for “all star” tickets that will put them closer to the stage and are being contacted first, said Stephanie Mueller, campaign spokeswoman. Applicants who didn’t offer to volunteer will be contacted later this week, she said.

But Kreider said she is certain she didn’t hit the “volunteer” box on the online application.

Still, Kreider got a message telling her that she had to do six hours of volunteer work by Friday if she wanted a chance at a ticket. Kreider said she will not do the work.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “Now it’s pure principal. I was a Hillary Clinton supporter, and this is literally my first touch with the Obama campaign. And it’s just disappointing.”

You come on now, you can’t tell me you’re surprised.

After all, Michelle told us months ago that Barack Obama would require us to work.

Welcome to Obama Nation, my friends.

  • Mark

    I think this a bit over-the-top. Frankly, from a libertarian point of view, what Obama is doing is hardly “forced.” He’s taking a scarce resource (“tickets”) and rationing them to the people willing to pay a minimum price for those tickets. It amounts to: “if you wish to receive x, you must pay me y,” where y is volunteerism rather than hard cash. But if Obama would prefer to accept volunteerism over money, that is his prerogative as the seller of the tickets. This is a far cry from mandating that people perform volunteer service “at the barrel of a gun.”

  • ThomasBlair

    In order to be considered for tickets to a speech held by a private organization (the DNC), you have to do volunteer work. What’s the big deal?

    BTW, what’s “forced” about this? I don’t give two shits about seeing The One speak, so I don’t have to worry about volunteering to get access to a ticket.

    I suppose my only problem with it is that it’s at Mile High, but then again, the DNC is probably renting the building for the event.

    Sure, the whole thing is silly, and it’s likely to piss off some of his supporters and make great fodder for talk radio, but how are you affected? Are you forced to volunteer?

  • Doug Mataconis


    This is a far cry from mandating that people perform volunteer service “at the barrel of a gun.”

    That’s because The one won’t have access to the gun until his Anointing.

  • jwh

    … mean to say that people expect to be compensated for their work? The promise that they MIGHT get something just doesn’t cut it?

    hmmmm…..perhaps there’s still a smidgeon of hope for us yet…..

  • Quincy

    Mark and Thomas –

    Strictly speaking, it’s arm-twisting, not forced volunteerism. I’ll agree that Doug was engaged in a little hyperbole. I’ll also say that, in a vacuum, I wouldn’t really care about this. I’d write it off as a cheap political stunt.

    But, since the campaign is not a vacuum, let’s bring in the relevant point:

    Obama is a big advocate of national service, and has already proposed mandatory national service for middle and high schoolers.

    Given this, and the Democrats new fetish for mandatory national service (cf. Universal Service Act of 2007), Obama’s stunt is more than just a stunt. It’s a message–a message about how important he thinks community service is.

    Remember, he’s already proposed mandating that high schoolers give 100 hours of their lives over to community service. If service is so important to him, what might he do when actually in office?