What is "birddogging"?
"Birddogging" is when you ask a public official or aspiring candidate to do something you care about, in-person, and in-public. This is in contrast more common tactics, such as phone calls, or protesting at empty buildings. Birddoggers are applying pressure directly to a targets who has the power to give us what we want. Skillful birddoggers team up and keep pursing their targets until they've pinned them down an gotten an answer. It's one of the most effective activist tactics in the toolbox!
Here's why: Politicians of *all* parties determine their policy positions substantially by listening to what people back home are consistently asking them to do. If they hear similar requests from voters at public meetings or campaign events, they are vastly more likely to say "yes". Policy makers are *much* more accessible during campaign season than they are post-election.
Birddogging is not a protest, and is only rarely a disruption. All it takes to birddog effectively is to show up at an event, as a team, and ask the person who has power over your issue to adopt the specific positions that you are fighting for.
Activists should birddog all leading candidates from every party, even if they currently disagree with you! Getting a “yes” is a big win. But also, if you ask a strong question, and the answer is “No, I prefer tax cuts for millionaires.”<—that's ALSO a win. You just exposed a policy maker's harmful positions, making them toxic to more people in their district.
In early 2017, a national network of thousands of birddoggers came together to help defeat the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. We showed up at town hall meetings, and then put our bodies on the line in Washington to stop the Members of Congress who wanted to take away our healthcare.
A year and 150+ birddog trainings later, in 2018, we’re now fighting for a universal, low-cost, high-quality health care system that covers EVERYONE. We’re showing up for candidate forums and meet-and-greets, and asking members of all parties to support the policies we need–both for healthcare, and beyond.
Birddog Nation is diverse and still growing quickly. We are united by our push for health for all--but at the same time, many of the people and groups out birddogging see healthcare as just one of the key issues to raise with our elected officials and aspiring candidates. So, the Birddog Nation crowd-sourced a platform of killer birddog questions you can use on the fly for some of the issues animating progressive activists.
We’ve created some tools to make it easier for birddoggers to win. In addition to the ‘platform’, the birdodggers themselves created a reporting tool to make it easier for people to report their birddog actions. We have a place to submit candidate events, and are rolling out a calendar for folks to find candidate events. We have some "how-to” fact sheets on birddogging and how to find candidate events and town halls. Soon, we’ll have a tool set up for local activists to track progress by candidates towards committing to the issues they care about.
The Birddog nation is an independent network of people and groups from across the country. The birddoggers get training, and limited support and facilitation from Housing Works and the Center for Popular Democracy
JOIN THE BIRDDOG NATION
EVERYONE in the Birddog Nation has either gone though an in-person, two hour training by an organizer from Housing Works or the Center for Popular Democracy, or joined us in Washington for peaceful civil disobedience actions to fight for healthcare and oppose tax cuts for the wealthy. YOU CAN JOIN US! Sign up to host a training in your town to learn the nuts and bolts of birddogging, the art and science of the inescapable birddogger question, and tips and tricks for non-violent direct action–if we need to escalate. We also urgently need more folks to volunteer as local focal points who mobilize the trained birddoggers in your area, as well as folks to help find events like candidate forums, meet and greets and town hall meetings by those who want to be our elected officials. We need more activists in more places! Please sign up here!