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Good Morning, South Carolina July 10, 2015

Posted by caradox in LoveGiveAct, Progressive Politics.
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In this era of screaming voices and unbending views, we don’t get many opportunities to drop the rage and appreciate a moment like we are witnessing in South Carolina this morning.
For a moment, just a precious moment, forget how much more there is to do. Forget how much you want to remind “the opposition” of exactly how horrible they are. For just a moment tap into the grace of 9 Charleston families. I’d like to just say “thank you” to all of those people who reflected, acted, spoke up, and stood up to make this morning possible.

Thank you South Carolina. You are doing the right thing. By putting down a heavy flag of division, you are opening up a future you will not regret. Love doesn’t divide, love multiplies.

Thank you Governor Nikki Haley for being the one to step out there and give permission to so many others to take the next step.

Thank you Senator Lindsey Graham for not just checking the box, but for being as authentic on this change as I’ve ever seen you on anything. I promise we’ll argue about a thousand things in the coming years, but at this moment I’m just grateful.

Thank you State Senator Paul Thurmond for this speech and your willingness to look in the face of your own family’s “heritage” and choose a new path.

Thank you State Rep Jenny Horne, a descendant of Jefferson Davis, for this amazing moment yesterday.

Thank you to the South Carolina Senate for voting 36-3 and the South Carolina House for voting 94-20. Those aren’t close votes and they put paid to the notion that South Carolina might still be wrangling over the question.
Thank you to the people of South Carolina for everything you did to let your representatives know that it was time.

And thank you to the Emanuel AME families. You paid a huge price for this tiny bit of change, but it’s a beginning.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Maya Angelou this morning and what she would have made of these past few weeks. She was fully capable of staring us down and saying “you should have done this long ago” then wrapping herself joyously around a whole state and saying “Yes South Carolina! I’m proud of you!”
Her words are exactly the right accompaniment to this day, savor them a little – On The Pulse of Morning

Even better, hear them in her own voice.

So from little old me, good morning, South Carolina. You did good. I’m proud of you.

Charleston. June 18, 2015

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It takes extraordinary faith to get through days of such anger horror sadness frustration as today. I don’t have the words to soothe the broken-hearted families of the Emanuel AME church, the community of Charleston, or friends across the country sharing in this wrenching pain. But I have my faith tonight, and it hangs on strong because of the people of Emanuel AME and those great and grieving friends whose love and resolve in the face of domestic terrorism point us in the only acceptable direction – forward.

A little list of love and resolve:

  • Learn the history – if you are too young or are among the many Americans for whom the story of race in America has been limited to a few chapters in a schoolbook, there is so much more to know and it helps make real the frustration of knowing history and having to face how far we still have to go. Here are just a few to get you started:

Denmark Vesey and the Emanuel AME Church

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing


The Newark Riots

The Chicago Freedom Movement

  • Remember them and the families who are just heartbroken today. They matter.
  • Donate to the Emanuel AME church here. They are going to need support to get through this.
  • It’s not enough to pray or wish it would stop – we have to work to stop hate. My heroes at the Southern Poverty Law Center are the daily keepers of the truth and remind us every day that there is work to be done. Support them here.
  • It’s time to get rid of the Confederate flag from state-sanctioned use.  Let’s call it what it is – the flag of a slave state that went to war with the United States and lost. Enough is enough with being nice and mumbling something about history and tradition. If we don’t change, things won’t change. You can sign one of the many petitions out there, but I like the direct route – call Nikki Haley’s office and tell her it’s time: 803.734.2100

Love to those who fight on for equal justice, economic opportunity and civil rights. A swift kick in the rear to those who think they can wave it away and hope it doesn’t affect them. We’re in this together.

Typhoon Haiyan November 9, 2013

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The storm came ashore Friday, hitting the Philippines as the strongest tropical storm to ever make landfall and one of the largest in world history. It landed as a huge Category 5 equivalent storm of 195 mph winds and is currently a Category 2 storm as it reaches Vietnam. Yesterday, we could only know that it was going to be bad, and hope for the best for those in its path. Today, the extent of the damage is starting to trickle out in images and casualty estimates. It may be days before the full extent of the impact is truly known. The world response is gearing up to get help to those stranded in evacuation shelters and those injured and needing help in the affected areas.

As has become my habit, I’m sharing info on how you can help as friends and the world community share updates on relief efforts.

How to Help

UN World Food Programme – wfp.org/typhoon or (in America) text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10

As a preliminary measure, 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits are due to be flown in from Dubai in the coming days. High Energy Biscuits are often provided in the early days of a crisis as they are light to transport and do not need cooking.

WFP is also working with the government to boost logistics and emergency telecommunications capacity as required.

Philippine Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate

Here’s what they’ve been doing.

AmeriCares – americares.org

Emergency medical aid is underway and a relief team is deploying to the Philippines to help survivors of super Typhoon Haiyan – possibly the worst storm in the disaster-prone country’s history.

Even before the monstrous typhoon struck, AmeriCares had pre-positioned emergency medicines and supplies ready to help families displaced by the storm. A new emergency shipment is underway with enough medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also providing emergency funding that will allow partner organizations in the Philippines to purchase and distribute critical relief supplies in the hardest-hit areas.

h/t for the above to @rjoseph7777

Team Rubicon – Once again, my favorite team of veterans is mobilizing to help. They’ve been all over the US working to help after disasters like Sandy and the Oklahoma Tornado, and now they are launching Operation: Seabird Donate online at Team Rubicon.

Tomorrow, a team of 15 experienced, specially qualified TR volunteers from across the country along with three members from Making Change, a veterans-based relief organization in Norway, will board flights to Manila.

The primary objectives of Operation: Seabird are facilitating search and rescue efforts and providing medical triage for a full-scale field hospital in Tacloban. The field hospital can handle up to 100 patients at a time and will be managed by Mammoth Medical Missions, who’s standing up a surgical team of 17.

We’re in the process of outfitting volunteers with PPE and preparing packs and medical gear so they remain self-sufficient for several days after arrival. We’ll continue to assemble intel gathered over the last 48 hours and adjust our strategy based on conditions reported from the ground.

Catholic Relief Servicesemergencies.crs.org You can share prayers here and see what CRS is doing as well as donate.

h/t for the CRS info to @pnuts_mama

Micromappers.com – if you are Twitter-savvy and want to pitch in, Micromappers is the place to go. Put your fingers to work!

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has requested assistance in responding to Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, one of the worst storms in recorded history. The UN wants to find tweets that refer to infrastructure damage as well as needs and requests for help. So we’re collaborating with our UN colleagues and the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) to make this happen but we need all the help we can get from the World Wide Crowd, meaning you!

h/t to @econoprof for sharing this great way to use technology to help.

More info as things evolve – if you have a great suggestion for how people can help, DM me @Caradox or email heycaradox@gmail.com

This is my “Told Ya So” dance. July 5, 2013

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Two years ago I wrote about a Jefferson Memorial demonstration and the characters behind it. I raised my objections then because it is important to know what real civil disobedience looks like and what self-serving psuedo-activism looks like. These players pop up every so often, getting varying degrees of applause and approval – depending on whether they happen to be raising a ruckus on a topic that is high on your particular list or not.

I’m a big believer in grassroots activism. I love when everyday people find the thing that moves them to roll up their sleeves and take action. Wisconsin inspired me. The folks in Texas and North Carolina this past week have similarly fired up my engines be part of the passionate, creative and absolutely critical work taking place at state level. That’s where the work most needs to be done.

Since that post right before the 2012 election, the landscape has only gotten more… interesting. More characters. A more vapid media looking for a colorful story that captures what they *think* is happening out there. More issues at hand – gun violence, voter repression, the war on women, drones, surveillance and privacy – that bring out good people who want to be part of the conversation. And more self-promoters looking to make a career out of getting attention.

One of the characters from that ridiculous Jefferson Memorial event popped himself back up yesterday to offer a perfect cautionary tale. Think hard about whose bandwagon you jump on, or whose “activism” you promote. The guy you think is such a rock star when he screamed about drones or legalizing marijuana might just show up and do this:

Rebecca Leber of ThinkProgress describes what he was doing:

The libertarian activist Adam Kokesh who called for and then canceled an armed march on Washington uploaded a YouTube video on July 4 that shows him  loading a shotgun in the center of Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C, near the White House. In the  video, Kokesh cryptically warns, “We will not allow our government to destroy our humanity. We are the final American revolution. See you next Independence Day.”   h/t to Bob Cesca


Next time I tell you to be wary of the motives of someone calling himself an activist, replay that video.

Because, freedumb.

Oklahoma Tornado 05.20.13 May 21, 2013

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Some days the news breaks and takes your breath away. This was one of those days. A tornado that may rank with the worst in American history tore through a suburb of Oklahoma City this afternoon, devastating a community in ways that these first hours are only beginning to show. Two elementary schools were in the monster’s path, and as I write this crews are still trying to recover the children of Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore  – knowing it is likely a recovery and not a rescue at this point and that the toll will be utterly heartbreaking.

So what can we do, from a distance, as this unfolds? We bear witness as best we can: To the first responders who will work themselves to the bone through the night in the hope of finding just one more alive, the teachers (too many times this year our hearts have burst at lengths to which teachers will go to protect these kids they love), those neighborhoods leveled to the concrete slab, the local journalists doing everything in their power to save lives ahead of the storm and then tell the stories of their own hometowns hour by hour in the aftermath, those children – oh mercy those poor children.

We can do more.

We are not powerless. No matter how far away you can pitch in. Over the coming days there will be many opportunities to do your part, and the needs on the ground will evolve. I’ll add the best verified ways to help as they pop-up. Here’s a start.

How to Help

1. Donate to the Red Cross – This is simple text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 or text “DONATE” to 90999 to donate $25. You can donate online at Red Cross Disaster Relief or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767. To see the help in action you can follow @RedCrossOKC on Twitter.

2. Donate to the Oklahoma City Food Bank – Text “FOOD” to 32333 to donate $10. You can also donate online at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. The OKC food bank is part of Feeding America – an org that I have supported for years.

3. Support Team Rubicon – This fantastic group empowers vets to get into our community and get to work doing relief and clean-up. They dove in after Sandy and are ready to get on the ground fast in Oklahoma. They have the backing of veterans that I am proud to call my friends. Donate online at Team Rubicon.

More great resources as they get geared up – I’m on the lookout in particular for pet / animal rescue and support groups (email me if you have a great one to recommend).

Komen backs down: What’s Next? February 3, 2012

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I was in my car today when word broke that Komen for the Cure was sending up the white flag. I had to pull over to tweet my reaction (of course), then catch my breath. First the SOPA blackout and then this… I’m starting to think we might be onto something here.

I’m just delighted with the work that has been done these past 3 days. I have no doubt that this is a win.

Anytime you get a huge deeply corporate organization to stop what they are doing and acknowledge you’ve made them look really bad, and that they did something wrong, it’s a win.

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.

Anytime you mobilize tens of thousands of people that fast and get them to focus on one specific problem for 3 days, you’ve won. Oh, the amazing amount of money that Planned Parenthood raised since Wednesday? Three. Million. Dollars. Yeah, that’s a win too.

Is Komen hoping today’s statement buys them room to quietly keep doing what they originally planned – pushing the reactionary political agenda of their current leadership? Perhaps. But the rock has been turned over. What they do next will be under serious scrutiny. For a full walkthrough of where things stand, Jennifer’s write up tonight covers much of the picture (and she saved me the the work of turning my whole day’s legal pad scribbles into coherent thought at a late hour, bless her.)

So what comes next:

Komen needs to fire Karen Handel. Her hiring and the organizational direction they have taken are intertwined. As long as she and anyone she brought in to work with her on policy remains, the reactionary political culture the national office has developed will still exist.

Komen’s next grant cycle will need to be watched, carefully. Their overall project choices need careful review and consideration before donors should feel comfortable handing over their charitable dollars. Their lobbying and advocacy needs to be made as transparent as possible so that all those who now recognize the potential problems can do a better job of acting as guardians of the public trust.

Some takeaways:

– There ARE amazing, effective groups working every day toward a cure. Also for prevention, compassionate support, and quality care. Donate to them. Show them your love. And give them a hand in the work they do. Two of my personal favorites are:

Prevent Cancer Foundation http://preventcancer.org/

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer http://www.curesearch.org/

We don’t say it enough: Planned Parenthood provides a vital, often the only, lifeline for those who need it. And more women need, and use their services than you can imagine. There are places in this country were without Planned Parenthood women would have nowhere to go to ask questions about their health and family planning, to get affordable medical care, and to get referrals to treatment with financial help to get them through. The best way to connect with that reality is to learn from the women who know PP best. These are their stories.

Whatever your reason for paying attention to this story – your passion for healthcare, your personal history with Komen or cancer, your general love of a good fight – the most important thing is to do something. If you sent one tweet, made one phone call, sent a 3 line email, dug up 5 bucks for Planned Parenthood, you were part of something that had an impact.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for doing. You matter.

Fight on!

Day One: Pink Ribbons in a twist February 1, 2012

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What a day! The response everywhere to the decision of Komen for the Cure’s national office to drop Planned Parenthood from its grant program has been incredible. I’m so heartened by this community of people.

The big news is that donations have poured in to Planned Parenthood — over $400,000 in 24 hours. That’s a great start in not just closing the “Komen gap” but going right past it, giving Planned Parenthood the ability to deliver even more care services.

Meanwhile, Komen for the Cure is now under a microscope that will not go away any time soon. With people looking at Komen, deeper concerns are becoming public, like the amount of donor’s money spent in litigation against other small charities and how little money Komen actually puts toward research – rather than administrative and fundraising expenses as Alicia Staley describes here.

Pushback isn’t  just coming from the outside community. Komen for the Cure’s Connecticut chapter told WaPo’s Ezra Klein how “frustrated” they are following the national office’s decision, while the Denver affiliate has already asked for and gotten an exemption to keep their grant program with Planned Parenthood.

24 hours in, the question is whether Komen for the Cure has irreparably damaged their brand, or will rethink and find a way to resolve their mounting PR crisis. It would now require fixing their Planned Parenthood relationship and addressing concerns about their leadership, mission and use of donor funds.

There’s a lot at play here. The most immediate is to put people first and make sure that access to screenings is preserved. Even better, with people paying attention, is to turn this into something that helps even more with greater support for the work that Planned Parenthood does through their screenings and prevention services.

Yes, there’s an even bigger problem: this ongoing battle for access to affordable healthcare in America and the siege — I’ve got no other word for it now that things have become a daily battle with personhood laws and candidates who think contraception is a crime — over reproductive care. That’s a post for another day. Right now, stay focused and stay fighting. This is day one.

Don’t forget to check out the list of actions. Make a call, send a note, make some noise. It’s having an impact.

Fight on!

Not without a fight: Komen for the Cure leaves millions of women behind January 31, 2012

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Update 2/1/2012 11 am ET: Since the news broke last night, the response has been passionate. One thing that Komen may not have expected is the secondary impact of this – a lot of people are now taking a deep look at Komen leadership’s political and corporate ties, the fundraising machine at Komen, and where donor’s money goes (hint: a lot less of it goes to actual research and care than many donors would think). People are starting to say – there are better organizations that are use less money for administrator salaries and get more money directly to research and care. More on this as the information develops. I’ve added more actions below that you can take, and more will be coming – some great ideas are cooking and will become events and channels for real impact.

This afternoon AP broke a story that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is stopping its partnership with Planned Parenthood.

A shockwave is now going through the internet among those who care intensely about the access of women to the kinds of medical care Planned Parenthood provides – cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, STD and reproductive planning education and care. For millions of America’s most vulnerable women, Planned Parenthood is a lifeline to care they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to and afford.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure provides significant grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer exams in support of their core mission. Without those grants, fewer women will have access to screenings that can save their lives.

Why did Komen for the Cure do this?

From the Washington Post AP story:

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

So Komen for the Cure is making this decision not because Planned Parenthood isn’t effective, or a good partner, and not because they aren’t doing work that saves women’s lives, but because conservative Republicans, who have unleashed unprecedented attacks on women’s rights all over this country at the local, state, and national level have scared them with Congressional investigations. Investigations that have not introduced fact-based information that would drive a rational decision, because they haven’t even happened yet.

I have so very many reactions to this news. None of them gentle.

My first reaction is to feel complete betrayal. How many times have I supported that pink ribbon? How many donations? How many times have I answered Komen for Cure’s call to be there for them? Komen has a very short window to make this right, or they will lose my support completely and that of tens of thousands of others. And with me goes my money.

My second reaction is: Elections have consequences. This is the price we are paying for the 2010 midterm elections – again. Only the bill will be paid by women in cities and rural communities, without access to quality care if Planned Parenthood doesn’t have the resources to help them get affordable mammograms and information on monthly self-exams. The cost will be measured in lives. If you sat out the midterms because you didn’t think it mattered, or because you had a fit of pique at the White House, or because you were under some weird misapprehension that the Tea Party wouldn’t drive a bus right over women in their blind anger at… well whatever it is they were told to be angry at… then you’ve got to wake up now and think about what happens when angry zealots get enough seats in Congress to take us all hostage.

My third reaction is — fight. Fight hard, fight fast, and don’t stop  — until Komen for the Cure and everyone else with a role in funding and support of women’s health research and delivery, and the legislators who write policy around them, know that we see what is happening and we will not willingly be sent into the medical dark ages. And we absolutely will not tolerate a country in which those with power and financial means have access to care while millions of others are abandoned to fate. Fight. Now.

Here’s how you can join the fight to keep zealots from scaring women’s healthcare away from those who need it most (and keep checking because I will add actions as they come up, because feathers are flying now):

1 – Sign: Go to act.ly and sign our petition to make yourself counted: http://act.ly/5hs <Thanks @shayera and @RL_Miller>

2 – Tweet: @komenforthecure and tell them that they have made the wrong choice and it will cost women’s lives.

3 – Call: 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) Right now. Tell them that fear won’t stop breast cancer, but breast exams at Planned Parenthood are a critical weapon in our battle.

4 – Post: A post on Komen’s Facebook wall would certainly get their attention.

5 – Go direct: Donate right to Planned Parenthood so those dollars get right to where they can help the next woman get a breast cancer or cervical cancer screening. <Thanks @bujeeboo> BONUS points: When you donate to PP, have then send the Thank You card to Karen Handel c/o Susan G. Komen Foundation. <Brilliant @MishaRN!>

6 (New!) – Rate: Join those who are registering their view that as an organization Komen for the Cure has stopped being true to their purported charitable mission. This will help people make more informed decisions  with charitable dollars. They will be clear on the fact that Komen has become a political organization by their decision. <Thanks @21law>

7 (New!) – Speak up: Tell the corporate sponsors of Komen for the Cure that all women (and men!)  are worth fighting for, and that Komen has made a political decision that does not reflect a charitable mission to save lives. <Thanks @Toby_Ziegler>

Susan G. Komen Sponsors: Million Dollar Elite: http://ww5.komen.org/MillionDollarCouncil.aspx?Elite=Elite
Susan G. Komen Sponsors: Million Dollar Council:  http://ww5.komen.org/MillionDollarCouncil.aspx?Elite=No
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Sponsors: http://ww5.komen.org/RacefortheCureSponsors.aspx
Susan G. Komen Corporate Partners: http://ww5.komen.org/CorporatePartners.aspx
Twitter accounts for many of Susan G. Komen’s corporate sponsors:

That’s the start. Now go – fight.

——- Related News and Posts ——-

Angry Black Lady as usual adds her fearless take on today’s developments.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate’s XX Factor lays it all out clearly.

Kaily Joy Gray at DailyKos gives a great call to action.

Jennifer @jhw2212 wins my award for most jawbusting response. Pricelessly honest.

Selling Change (Guest Post by Ben Donahower) August 31, 2011

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Somewhere between work, classes, and getting myself  going with Progressive Congress News, I managed to wedge in a week at the shore – a very badly needed week. While working turning myself into a saltwater infused sun dried tomato, I got a note that made me very happy: A twitter pal had read my post on politics as marketing, and thought he could add to the topic with some of his own experiences from the campaign trail.

Trust me – when you blog in the wee hours of random odd weeks where you find time, having someone tell you that they actually read your blog is a delight. Having them tell you they’ve put thought into the topic you raised is downright grin-inducing.

Classes are done, all that work email is cleared out – so I’m finally able to catch up here as well. I’m very happy to share this guest post from Ben Donahower. Ben’s got some food for thought. I hope they spark some ideas you can use in your local grassroots activism – because we need a lot more people out there getting comfortable knocking on doors, making signs, showing up at town halls, and putting themselves up as candidates for local office. Wisconsin and Ohio can’t do this alone.


Ben Donahower blogs about campaign yard signs at Campaign Trail Yard Signs and has worked on campaigns from State Representative to President.  You can follow Ben at @iapprovethismsg.

The better we understand marketing the more likely our candidates get elected and our causes get adopted. In fact, the similarities between marketing and campaigns and elections are striking. Campaigns and marketers might use different words but they name the same concepts. Ultimately, marketers and campaigns want people to say yes to their offer. One offers a product or service and the other ideas and representation. Let’s make voters and others an offer they can’t refuse!

To Get An Answer Add Scarcity

 We’ve all seen offers for products and services where the price or the product was only good for a certain time. Act now because the first hundred customers will get this widget for three easy payments of $19.95! Fortunately, politics is a business of deadlines. Campaigns commonly use scarcity is to raise funds before a campaign finance deadline and to persuade undecided voters to make up their minds close to the election. Adding scarcity to your ask for financial support or to vote for the candidate will increase the percentage of people who give a straight answer and the number of people who will say yes. Look for other deadlines and take advantage of them!  If you have an upcoming vote by mail deadline, for example, reach out to people who are likely to vote by mail, share with them the benefits of voting by mail and that the deadline is fast approaching.

It’s Give and Take: In That Order

Robert Cialdini in his book, 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, shared an experiment where researchers asked a group of homeowners to place a large “drive carefully” sign on their front lawns. Only 17% agreed. The researchers also went to another group of homeowners but instead of asking them to post a sign on their first visit, they were asked to display a small window sign. Now that the researchers had a mental foot in the door, the next time they visited those homeowners, 78% of them agreed to take the large “drive carefully” lawn sign.

The second group of homeowners easily agreed to a small window sign. After they had displayed the sign for some time they identified themselves as the kind of people that cared about whether others drove carefully or not. Since the small window signs helped them self-identify as that type of person, they easily agreed to take the much larger and less attractive yard sign.

This same marketing principle applies to political campaigns whether it’s yard signs, campaign contributions, or something in between.

The Power of Pricing Psychology

Marketers are very strategic in how much they ask for a product. A product price, for example, is $14.95 in a bricks and mortar retail or something like $27 online. Marketers also think about the structure of the price such as the three easy payments of $19.95.

Activists can use the same principles of pricing psychology to make it easier for undecided voters to vote for a candidate. Tell an undecided voter that they aren’t making a lifelong commitment but putting the candidate in office for one term. If they aren’t happy with their representation, their money back guarantee is that they can return the elected official to private life and elect someone else. More people will vote for the candidate because you have framed the ask for a vote in a way that is low cost and guaranteed.

Marketing Works

When we market a candidate or an issue using these ideas and other marketing strategies, we are communicating ideas in a way that are accessible and compelling. We shouldn’t feel sleazy about our efforts unless we are making claims that we can’t deliver on. The reason why we think that marketing is sleazy comes from unethical marketers who make false promises about their products and candidates alike. If we market our issues and candidates ethically, we our doing ourselves and our causes a service.

Making it Work in Wisconsin June 2, 2011

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Yesterday I took a red pen to the Dancing protest at the Jefferson Memorial this past holiday weekend. It is just as important (actually more so) to speak of a great example of how to boldly, loudly, and effectively protest.

Political activism is marketing. I know, that makes you cringe. It wounds your rebel soul to hear. It’s too base, too commercial, too capitalist.

Get over it.

The world has a limited supply of resources, including attention to causes. If you have an issue important to you, you want as much public awareness and legitimacy as possible so that you get results from the work you put into it.

When Madison, Hamilton and Jay wrote The Federalist Papers, they were marketing. They were making their case for ratification of the Constitution and how a new federal government should be designed. They needed to reach an audience that would support ratification, and they had to knock down objections they were competing against in the marketplace. So they made their pitch, under the name “Publius”. Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, they all used the marketing channels of their day, letters to peers and supporters, signed and unsigned articles in the growing American press, and books to influence, inform, teach, and challenge.
Dr King was marketing too. Every word of the “I Have A Dream” speech was chosen carefully to evoke the right feelings, to resonate with varied American audiences. It was one of the most important sales pitches in American history. Buy this dream and take it home with you, you will find a greater value in it than the way we are living today. He chose his forum and used the media of his day masterfully. For that we can be grateful.

Political activism is marketing.

Right now, Wisconsin protests give us a fantastic model for handling a tough political battle. In the snow, day after day, they came out and rallied, looking just like the ordinary Americans they are. No matter how hard the right wing media machine tried to make them out to be union thugs or greedy overpaid teachers, to most people across the country, they looked just like us.
They chanted and sang. They held their signs. And, yes, they danced and danced and danced in that statehouse.

The effort, coordination, and communication it took, across multiple organizations was massive. It was also sustained over a long period of time and in the face of repeated counter events and tense legislative moments. I’m sure there were moments where things got hairy, and mistakes were made, but the overall positive public impression that came out of those weeks was no accident – it was the product of hard and effective work.

The moment I held my breath was the day of the planned Capital clearing. I watched as it streamed online (modern media!) knowing the whole story could go wrong in a handful of minutes. I was blown away by what I saw. The crowd inside the Capital was given detailed, clear, repeated instructions. Protesters were given a choice on whether to be arrested or not. Those who chose arrest were given a specific location to go and talked through how to go about being arrested. There was constant communication with police on who was where and how things would proceed. As I watched, my family coming in and out of the kitchen around me, I was pointing and hopping like a happy rabbit: “They are doing it the way we were taught!” “They know what to do!” “This could just work!”

Today, when you think of Wisconsin, who was the rock star in the statehouse rotunda that day? Can’t name them? Good. It wasn’t about one individual, it was – and stayed – a collective “people’s” view. Do you remember when the police got upset and wrangled with the protesters? No? Good. Because they were careful, on both sides, by the the quality of their behavior, to make make things go as smoothly as possible. So much so that when overblown and inaccurate reports of damage were publicized, it was “The Man” who backed up the protesters.

As of today, 6 Republican State Senators are now in line for recall votes. The bill was overturned for violation of process laws. The work goes on in Wisconsin. Rallies, events, organizing meetings are all still being held. The outcome is not certain and there may need to be more rallies. One thing is certain: Wisconsin protesters have fired up a conversation that has been successful enough that it keeps going, and they’ve done it without doing one ounce of harm to the ideals and goals of the movement they first learned from, and now lead. Their spirit and style are already being copied in other states. This is how new activists are born. They learn from our experience then take us to places we never thought of, using tools and messages that reflect to their gifts. Activism evolves. But the goal is always the same – to reach as many people we need to get the change we seek. Activists can’t just talk to themselves, they must reach a broad and diverse public that has a lot of other concerns on its mind.

There is no other way to end the inequality of gay, lesbian, and transgendered Americans. No other way to get Climate Change back on the table for real solutions. No other way to get the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, and the dark relationship between America and torture buried forever.
Those are worth learning how to sell.

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