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Governing Under the Influence

Governing Under the Influence

Published: September 10, 2015
GUI New Hampshire

GUI on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. 

Photo: AFSC / Eric Zulaski
GUI New Hampshire

AFSC has trained more than 725 volunteers to "bird dog" or question presidential candidates.

Photo: AFSC

It’s no secret that money creates a great deal of influence in U.S. politics. Corporate influence and profit is a key factor behind problems like mass incarceration, excessive Pentagon spending, and the transformation of the U.S.-Mexico border region into a war zone.

A new AFSC project is helping to shine a light on corporate influence on public policy. In Iowa and New Hampshire, where the campaign for the 2016 presidential nominations has already been intense for months, AFSC has launched a project called Governing Under the Influence (GUI) to remind candidates that the interests of the people must come first.

AFSC has already trained more than 725 volunteers to question—or “bird dog”—candidates about the corporate influence that drives our country toward more wars, more prisons, and more violence. Teams of volunteers and staff are at town hall meetings, TV studios, city sidewalks—anywhere candidates appear—to ensure these issues get the attention they deserve.

“The GUI project isn’t partisan; it’s not about ranking the candidates or telling anyone how they should vote,” says Arnie Alpert, co-director of AFSC’s New Hampshire program. “It’s about shifting the political discourse by exposing forces that steer the country in the wrong direction.” As of this summer, the campaign had drawn out responses from more than 20 candidates and garnered attention from media outlets like the Boston Globe, Fox News, Des Moines Register, and Huffington Post.