By Paul Gronke of Portland, Oregon. Paul is a Reed college professor of American politics and social science methodology. More at reed.edu.
I came across this article (subscription may be required) in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and thought is might be of interest to BlueOregon readers.
The article summarizes a new book by Dana R. Fisher, an assistant professor of sociology at Columbia. In Activism Inc.: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns is Strangling Progressive Politics , Fisher argues that liberal organizations are losing the mobilization battle and alienating young people becauase because they rely on for-profit political mobilization firms.
Fisher studied 110 workers for "The People's Project" (her poorly anonymized label for The Fund for Public Interest Research.) You know them--they are the "PIRG" folks who come to your door and ask for small donations.
Surprisingly enough, just last night, after I'd read the article, I had a PIRG canvasser come to my door using precisely the pitch that Fisher describes: mention a bill that they are working on (in this case, a bill that would require Oregon to use 25% of its power from renewable sources), and ask for a small donation. The real money, apparently, is in the name and address, not the donation.
What's the problem here? Fisher claims that conservatives rely on more genuinely "rooted" mobilization efforts--such as churches and neighborhood organizations--while liberals outsource their efforts to profit driven organizations that chew through young people and don't create a long term base of volunteers or political supporters.
There's more grist in the article, including responses from Donald Green, a political scientist at Yale who has been a big promoter of face to face canvassing.
Does this impact Oregon? Is the Bus Project subject to this same criticism? Do liberals need to rethink their moblization strategy?