During the build up to every presidential election, the eyes of the world turn to two states: Iowa and New Hampshire. Home to the Iowa Caucus, and the first primary elections, respectively, they’ve become key campaign stops for every presidential candidate. This time, a group of Quaker-trained “bird dogs” is making these carefully managed publicity tours more challenging.
Created by the American Friends Service Committee, “Governing Under the Influence” is a campaign to challenge presidential candidates to own up to the power of corporate influence in modern American politics. The AFSC is a nonprofit organization created by the Quakers, and in keeping with that religion’s strong anti-war beliefs, the Governing Under the Influence campaign specifically targets military spending, the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico, and the country’s out-of-control prison population.
In both states, the campaign is tracking the candidates’ every public appearance and sending teams of trained volunteers, called “bird dogs” in reference to their stubbornness and persistence, to ask difficult questions about campaign financing and the future of democracy. The campaign is deliberately nonpartisan, ensuring that all candidates are challenged on their stance on these key issues.