By Dana R. Fisher
Activism, Inc. introduces the United States to an more and more generic political actor: the canvasser. She’s the twenty-something with the clipboard, preventing you in the street or knocking in your door, the foot soldier of political campaigns.Granted extraordinary entry to the “People’s Project,” an unknown but influential association riding left-leaning grassroots politics, Dana Fisher tells the real tale of outsourcing politics in the US. just like the significant firms that outsourced their customer support to businesses in another country, the grassroots campaigns of nationwide innovative movements—including Greenpeace, the Sierra membership, store the youngsters, and the Human Rights Campaign—have been outsourced at assorted instances to this unmarried association. in the course of the 2004 presidential crusade, the Democratic celebration the same outsourcing version for his or her canvassing.Fisher examines the historical past and cause in the back of political outsourcing at the Left, weaving jointly frank interviews with canvassers, high-ranking political officers around the political spectrum, and People’s venture administration. She compares all of this to the grassroots efforts at the correct, which stay firmly grounded in groups and native politics.This ebook deals a chilling overview of the implications of political outsourcing. Connecting area people at the streets all through the United States to the nationwide businesses and political campaigns that make up revolutionary politics, it exhibits what occurs to the passionate younger activists outsourced to the consumers of Activism, Inc.
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Extra info for Activism, Inc.: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns Is Strangling Progressive Politics in America
Indd 35 5/11/06 11:29:07 AM 36 Institutionalizing Activism to local newspapers. In both of these cases, the People’s Project provided the canvassers with sample text to use as a model. Although all of these activities took place outside normal canvassing time, none of them involved monetary compensation. These sorts of top-down practices made many canvassers feel that they had no autonomy. According to Doug, who had canvassed in Ann Arbor after his sophomore year in college: “The canvassers and field managers really had no say in the overall direction of where the campaign was going and in terms of politics, we sort of just marched around and did what the upper two levels told us to, and further we had .
Mustering as much perkiness as I could, I summarized the project, exaggerating my arm gestures in an effort to make being interviewed and surveyed seem less like guinea pig experiments and more like fun socializing. After my pitch, announcements ended abruptly with a final cheer that sent the canvassers springing into action. Within minutes, the office had emptied out. The canvassers dispersed throughout the Portland metropolitan area to recruit and renew memberships for campaigns that included cleaning up a local river, protecting a stand of old-growth forest, and supporting disadvantaged children.
Because directors worked such long hours, were expected to house visiting out-of-towners, and had to cover the expenses for many of the group’s activities out of their own pockets, many canvass directors left the People’s Project before fulfilling their contracts. Lori explained the events leading up to her departure: “We had a meeting in Portland and they didn’t have the money to reimburse folks for gas, food, or anything. For those of us driving up from San Diego, [it] was expensive . . [It was a] pretty major trip and we stopped different places and worked and canvassed on the way up, but .
Activism, Inc.: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns Is Strangling Progressive Politics in America by Dana R. Fisher