Governing Under the Influence

(ema-02/05/15)  "
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice."  AFSC's "Governing Under the Influence" project seeks to highlight "the corrupting influence of corporate dollars in the political process and in policy making."  The effort is focused on the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and is built on grassroots engagement and education.  Staff and volunteers "bird dog" potential candidates and candidates at events on the campaign trail, asking pointed questions and reporting the reponses.  GUI activists question Democrats and Republicans alike.  The public launch for the 2016 cycle was tied to Hillary Clinton's appearance at the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on Sept. 14, 2014 (+), and GUI has continued to build since then. 

Heading the project in New Hampshire is Arnie Alpert, a pioneer in the bird dogging technique, who has led AFSC's New Hampshire program since 1981. 
He first heard the term and received some training in "bird dogging" in the nuclear freeze movement in the lead up to the 1984 New Hampshire primary.  In 2003 he developed the training technique AFSC now uses -- based on role plays and other participatory exercises; and in the 2004 cycle the group interacted with the Democratic candidates running to challenge President Bush.  In 2007-08 they focused largely on the cost of the Iraq War.  Judith LeBlanc, who until recently was national field director for Peace Action, states, "Arnie is the go to, most bird dog effective trainer in the country. He can encourage even the meekest to engage in a role play and honestly consider trying to do a bird dog. As a trainer that is half the battle, helping people connect with their deepest beliefs and translate into effective public action."  Kathleen McQuillen heads the Iowa project.

Recruitment Card (9" x 6").

What is Governing Under the Influence

Large corporations wield too much political power.

Excessive corporate power is a key factor behind mammoth budgets for military weapons, the U.S.-Mexico border region’s transformation into a war zone, the incarceration of millions of people, and many other problems the U.S. is confronting today.  

How do corporations do it? Millions of dollars spent on lobbying, with high-level government officials passing through the revolving door from public administration to high-priced lobbying firms. Millions more spent directly on candidates and political action committees. Court decisions that advance corporate rights and curtail voting rights. Well-funded think tanks that force the corporate agenda into the media.   

The power of the people can be stronger than the power of the corporations.

That’s why AFSC is calling for a halt to “governing under the influence” through a strategic education and action project. We’re starting in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that get the lion’s share of attention from presidential candidates.