What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Politics, the Art of Making Money

So here I sit in my cubicle, thinking I'm fighting for the good cause, fighting the political fight, trying to raise the minimum wage in NY.  Turns out that while that might happen at some point in a future as of yet unseen, really I'm just here to try to make money.  Actually its a little more nuanced than that, I'm not exactly here to 'make' money but here to get people to give me money.  And while the difference in wording is really just about semantics, in reality, politics is as much a business of making money as anything else in America.  Where I am REALLY struggling with all this is that I spend my days and weekends protesting to get money out of politics, and then I am spending my evenings trying to get money in to politics.  Now granted, at this organization we don't take corporate money and I'm simply calling individuals and asking for small monthly contributions, $5-10 in most cases.  But all the same, even politics 'light" in America is all about money.  
It doesn't matter how many people I get "involved" (sign petitions, write letters, pledge to vote for the party, or just activate and inform), its all about money at my job.  I am blowing away the quotas for everything but the fundraising goals.  Yup, that's right, I'm having lots of interesting and informative conversations about the issues, getting people excited and activated, engaged with the issues and the party itself, but this isn't enough.  I have now seen first hand of how politics really all works.  I guess it would be really easy if they took large sums of corporate money, but they don't (hence their appeal to me and many others) so the whole operation becomes simply about making money.  I suppose that is why the entire organization is a group of fundraisers.  The two ways into the organization are through door-to-door "canvasing" and telephone "organizing" (both just fancy names for asking for money either on foot or by phone).  The organization only promotes from within, i.e. from either of those two avenues.  
This is of course proving to be an issue for me.  For while I'd love to be doing some solid research and analysis on the issues I don't seem to be successful in fundraising like this.  Thus, that chance may simply never present itself as its money or nothing!!!  I of course find this really sad.  Here I sit with all this experience; almost two masters degrees, years of business, developmental, and whatever other kinds of experience I have, and yet there doesn't seem to be much of a place for me.  Sad, guess I'll just have to keep Occupying!  ;)     

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