WHITAKER'S LAW ON POLITICAL FINANCING | 2000-01-15
In politics, the money starts coming in AFTER you need it most. You have to prove yourself first. By the time you have proven yourself, you are over the big hump, and the money you needed so desperately is less important.
So much of the really groundbreaking political activity is run in a back room on a shoestring.
The most effective group I ever ran consisted of three people and no bank account. It was called the Populist Forum, and it provided press conferences and other representation to genuine grassroots protests. Independent trucks, anti-busing protesters, and textbook protesters, among others, were working people who were fighting well-organized forces.
We would call up and ask if they needed someone to do their writing for them. In the case of a real, grassroots movement, it was just what they needed. They were new to the political wars, and all the experts and wordsmiths were on the other side.
Once the money starts coming in, your purposes become more and more perverted to the wishes of the money people. Finally, the cause becomes largely a means of employment.
It is often said that people who contribute money tell you what to do. But what is more important is that, when you accept money, there are things you CAN'T do. When the independent truckers began their protest against oil rationing, they pulled their trucks up in the middle of a Washington, DC rush hour and left them there. If we had any big-money contributors, we would have been prohibited from speaking for this kind of costly anarchy.
But that tactic sure got the government's attention in a way no other approach would have. Monied interests would not have allowed us to participate in many of the activities we got into on a shoestring.
Whitaker's Corollary on Political Financing says that groups with lavish funding will often be those which have nothing or, being in the way, less than nothing, to contribute.