Tomorrow is the (extended) deadline to apply for one of the summer Obama organizing fellowships. The program is open to “students and recent graduates” who will work, unpaid, at least 30 hours a week for the campaign. “Housing is not guaranteed,” the site adds. I love the fellowship concept, but I worry that the young Latino precinct captain I met in Northwest Indiana, who is not a student but has a passion for the campaign and has been doing political work since he was 13, and hundreds of others like him will not be participating. There is a mixed message in the program’s FAQ, “We expect most applicants to be students and recent graduates. However, anyone can apply and become an organizing fellow… People of all ages are needed to help build the movement!”
I know that Obama staffers are running on fumes at this point, and what the campaign’s accomplished will be the subject of study and praise for years to come. But was there no concern that, in creating a program for those few lucky enough to be in college and able to take an unpaid internship, the campaign could be giving proof to the “elitist” canard? Could it not craft an appeal for a fellowship scholarship program that would fund stipends or housing allowances?