I wanted to bring to your attention a terrific article in The Huffington Post, “Applying The ‘Obama Model’ For Homeland Security,” by Arnold Bogis from Harvard University’s Belfer Center.
Bogis argues that the bottom-up, community-driven organizational approach of the President during the recent campaign (and in some of his previous work in Chicago) can — and should be — employed by the Administration in the area of homeland security. In his piece, Bogis argues:
To improve homeland security, the administration must reach out to citizens and provide real education about the threats they face. Engagement with the public on a scale not yet seen can be accomplished, but will require a new type of “ground game” exemplified by Obama’s campaign.
Efforts to utilize both the existing grassroots structure and tools are underway, though as an independent non-profit organization separate from the government. Early indications are that the initial focus will be on helping drive the new administration’s initiatives. There is speculation that a national service component might be included that could assist in the aftermath of natural disasters. It and related activities should include efforts to foster preparedness by applying an Obama organization mantra: “respect, empower, and include” citizens in homeland security.
This will require expanded use of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as traditional communication means. The administration should also heed the suggestion of a recent government commission that recommended empowering citizens beyond the role of Chicken Little, asking little more than preparing for the sky to fall. Instead, as the chairman former Senator Bob Graham put it, if citizens are informed about the dangers they face they can hold their elected officials responsible for preparing and make vital choices themselves, such as voting to appropriately fund local emergency medical services to meet potential threats.
As I come at the issue of homeland security from the point of view of a citizen and parent, I appreciate Bogis’ suggestion for Obama to use his ”community-organizer strategy” in this area. If the President follows the advice, it would put citizen preparedness and engagement in the forefront of homeland security policy. To me, citizen preparedness offers the President the type of non-partisan, constructive, grass roots opportunity for Americans to strengthen their communities while giving back during a time of war that he spoke a lot about during the campaign.