In the fall of 2014, AFSC decided to use the upcoming presidential race as an opportunity to call for a halt to governing under the influence (GUI) of corporate interests. We trained hundreds of staff and volunteer “bird dogs” to attend campaign events and ask tough questions about campaign financing and the influence of money on legislation. The primary focus was on Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that get the lion’s share of attention from presidential hopefuls.
GUI raised issues that AFSC has championed for years, including mass incarceration, the immigrant detention bed quota, and trillions spent on war while schools, hospitals, and infrastructure crumble. Prepped with tall banners and unflinching questions, the bird dogs had unmatched access to both candidates and their 24/7 media entourages.
Hundreds of “bird dog reports” have been uploaded to the project’s website, creating a permanent record that can inform voters and would-be bird dogs in other states. In Iowa, GUI also used the caucus process for one-on-one voter education. This kind of work gives ordinary people a voice in the political process that can help counteract the influence of bundlers, lobbyists, and super PACs.