Boing Boing reports on a recent campaign by Chicago advertising giant, Leo Burnett Worldwide, to defeat a Tea Party campaign against a proposed 0.7% tax increase to support the Troy Michigan public library. The campaign’s major feature was a hoax designed to change the narrative. Burnett won an Effie Award in the Good Works category with the campaign, and produced a slick video about it:
I am only familiar with the literature on campaign spending and turnout from drinking beer with a colleague who studies ballot initiatives in California, and I will spare you my alcohol addled beliefs based upon such conversation. Suffice it to say that Leo Burnett makes some intriguing claims about turning out Yes voters in local elections. Perhaps I can entice someone with actual knowledge to comment somewhere. In the interim, what should we take from this little nugget of a present day Mad Men agency executing a hoax to influence elections?
It is widely recognized that police and protesters compete for the moral high ground, as the iconic image from the US civil rights reminds us.
Christian Davenport and I have begun a Civil Society and Democratic Expression research initiative that we hope will serve as a model for how we should collect data so that we can better study the street politics of social movements. Matt Baggetta kindly posted about the “within the protest” street portion of the project, and we will post soon about our effort to also document the police deployment “behind the scenes” during large events such as the recent march and rally in Chicago organized by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda.
Because the street politics of protest can be understood as a competition between protesters and police to earn the moral high ground we believe it is vital to study not only the interactions of protesters and police on the street, but also the resulting press coverage and public opinion. Continue reading
Repression like we have recently witnessed in response to the Occupy movement is not rare in democracy. This fact tends to surprise people, so let us explain. Government repression—the use of arbitrary arrest, physical force, and other forms of coercion—is the most common government response to publicly made challenges to existing policies: throughout the advanced industrial democracies popular protest tends to elicit repression. To be sure, repressive behavior is neither automatic nor guaranteed: it is trivial to identify protests that are passively monitored by, and even some that are ignored by, police. What, then, determines whether police will repress or monitor /ignore protesters? The simple answer is: perceived threat. Threat can be usefully broken into three parts: stakes (the further from the status quo, the more threatening), the means by which the claims are advanced (e.g., lobbying and non-violent public action as opposed to violence), and the social status of the protesters (i.e., the extent to which they are marginal members of society). Stakes play an important role, as do the means, but we focus here on the third category: marginalization. Take, for example, the stakes of the Tea Party Movement /Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and the public demonstrations those groups have produced, thereby setting stakes and means aside. In such a circumstance, the government’s, and most explicitly the police’s, perception of the social status of the protesters will strongly influence the level of coercive policing the protesters will experience. Continue reading