I've been wondering what would be the next step for the unprecedented national grassroots movement that Obama put together. I assumed the state and local parties would undoubtedly make use of that infrastructure and the most active grassroots leaders would take the reins. It was pretty clear that the efforts of 2008 would pay dividends in the future, with or without the White House's help.
But by making this movement a living part of his administration, Obama opens up tremendous opportunities--the most obvious being that his 2012 field team is pretty much already in place. Besides that, though, Organizing for America may have some truly remarkable power: Congress thrives on public opinion, and the administration can now directly influence public opinion at the grassroots level. This may provide an excellent counterweight to conservative talk radio, which I believe played a large role in shaping pro-Iraq War opinion and which will undoubtedly attack Obama at every turn.
It will also be interesting to see what role this organization will play in the 2010 midterms--Organizing for America could be a powerful bulwark against losses in that election, particularly if the political environment in two years is less than favorable for Democrats.