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September 19, 2012 9:32 PM   Subscribe

The campaigns they chose to run, and the way they decided to run them, shaped the history of California, and of the country. - The history of Campaigns, Inc., the "first political-consulting firm in the history of the world" which morphed into the precursor for our modern lobbying firms (although they preferred the term "grassroots organizers").
posted by DynamiteToast (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Also, this is my first post. Constructive criticism is appreciated. I heard about it from this interview on NPR and though it'd make a good post.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2012

Great post. You can't go wrong with Jill Lepore. (which scans like an advertising jingle)

You cán't go wróng wiith JiiiiiiiiiiiiillLepóre!
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 PM on September 19, 2012

They didn't morph into our modern lobbying firms. They morphed into modern America.

Fan flames. “We need more partisanship in this country,” Whitaker said. Never shy from controversy; instead, win the controversy. “The average American doesn’t want to be educated; he doesn’t want to improve his mind; he doesn’t even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen,” Whitaker advised. “But there are two ways you can interest him in a campaign, and only two that we have ever found successful.” You can put on a fight (“he likes a good hot battle, with no punches pulled”), or you can put on a show (“he likes the movies; he likes mysteries; he likes fireworks and parades”): “So if you can’t fight, PUT ON A SHOW! And if you put on a good show, Mr. and Mrs. America will turn out to see it."

There needs to be more fight on our side.
posted by univac at 10:51 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is also an interesting history of early attempts to pass state and national health insurance plans (including one by Truman) and the political campaigns that worked to defeat them.

I am sometimes completely baffled by the support the public gives for certain politicians. I love this quote, which helps make some sense of it:

Reason pushes the viewer back, it assaults him, it demands that he agree or disagree; impression can envelop him, invite him in, without making an intellectual demand. . . . When we argue with him we demand that he make the effort of replying. We seek to engage his intellect, and for most people this is the most difficult work of all. The emotions are more easily roused, closer to the surface, more malleable.
posted by eye of newt at 11:02 PM on September 19, 2012

Not only do we still lack national health insurance, we are now at risk of losing public education to the corporations. They bash the most selfless public servants - schoolteachers - while steadily de-funding public services through tax cuts so that schools are doomed to fail. So that the private sector can eventually take over and turn a profit. Then it will be the fire fighters. Those moochers lounge around in a clubhouse most days, AND they get a pension. Do you have a pension? Didn't think so. Kill the pensions, cut the pay. Then when they can't recruit anyone to climb a rusty ladder for minimum wage, sell it off to Halliburton. They are coming after everything and we will not hold on to our society without a fight.
posted by univac at 11:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

(although they preferred the term "grassroots organizers")

Of course they did.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:51 AM on September 20, 2012

This is a fascinating article and a great post. Thank you.

Surprised that it didn't refer to John Hill's work in the mid 1920s. His outfit eventually became Hill + Knowlton, still one of the big boys today. Also Harold Burson from the mid 40s is one of the industry's most revered figures. That said by then there was a clear conceptual difference between freelance campaign advisers (both individuals and agencies) whose clients were trying to get a vote on something, and on the other hand out and out lobbying outfits. We don't really have the former in the UK but my goodness we have a lot of the latter.
posted by dmt at 7:39 AM on September 20, 2012

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