Project Wonderful

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The $5,000 Campaign Training Controversy

I've gotten a lot of questions about a recent article that began thusly:
"Two top veterans of President Obama’s campaigns are asking political campaigners to pay $5,000 per person for the chance to learn their secrets and then work for five weeks in an unpaid campaign job somewhere in America."
The criticism being that 270 Strategies is asking international activists to pay $5,000 to volunteer on campaigns.

It is rare that a controversy arises within the campaign world that I simply have no opinion on. I guess that's true here as well, but I need more information. What does the $5,000 cover (travel, housing, meals, a personalized plan etc)? How did they come up with that budget? These guys are too smart and experienced (I hope) for this to simply be a case of them buying their own hype.

270 Strategies did respond publicly to the criticism, but did not address the above questions. I don't really have commentary outside of what I've said, the article, and 270 Strategies' response. However, it is a big deal in the campaign community so I wanted to put it out there as something to be interested in and aware of. I will be sure to share updates as they unfold.

At the very least, I can't help but wonder what it means that our community was so quick to turn on the brains behind Obama's field program, or for that matter that this was communicated so poorly. Whoa, if true.

1 comment:

  1. I want to add a thought into this, as far as Jeremy Bird is concerned and about how Battleground Texas has impacted political organizers in Texas, specifically.

    In the past many years, very rarely have Texans been given money to invest in the Democratic infrastructure. Rather, the DNC, the DCCC... everybody would come in to our state and siphon money out. When asked for it, we were told, "You're a red state, we'd be wasting our money if we did."

    In some respects I can understand that, but in others, when you completely deprive a state of necessary funding to build an infrastructure and remove it in favour of other states, you doom the citizens living there.

    Speaking from personal experience, we have had several candidates, campaigns, that could really turn the tide with just a little money, because even grassroots does need some help to compete with million dollar budgets.

    I have personally witnessed and been a part behind some amazing victories in Texas, limited as they were because of the above.

    So, it was a personal afront when Jeremy Bird, one of the two parties behind 270 Strategies, having all of maybe four months experience in Texas, went on a national program, The Rachel Maddow Show, during the protests around women's rights last summer and said, "Texans don't know how to organize."

    This was after Battleground Texas wanted to openly take credit for the Capitol being over capacity on the night of Wendy's Filibuster. They weren't even a part of that whole process, and it was a personal affront that they wanted to take credit from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other organizations that led and were instrumental in that whole process.

    It was an even bigger affront when the higher level positions within Battleground Texas went to people from outside of this state. You have people coming into Texas not teaching, not asking the common sense questions of, "what have you tried, what have you done, what would get you to your goals?" But, rather telling us all how to do things, because it worked for OFA.

    They don't even think that OFA was in this state and it worked in some areas but not in all areas.

    When Battleground Texas was announced, I was excited, but from what I've seen from Jeremy Bird, it just tarnishes this endeavor with an even further bad taste. It's basically a paid internship, but a reverse paid internship. $5,000 is a LOT of money and I fear that this entire strategy will only further cause people to be apathetic to politics. Worse: it confirms that politics is ALL about money, which it shouldn't be... and internships should NEVER go to who paid for the privilege, but the best qualified candidate.

    This just brings us closer to the corporate world and that's a part of the Democratic Party that really needs to evaluate and sort out its priorities.