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Outsourcing Activism/Truck Safety

Why do Democrats have so much trouble turning activist energy into electoral success? That’s the question Ralph asks sociology professor Dana Fisher, author of “Activism Inc” and “American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Wave.” Also truck safety advocate, Jennifer Tierney, tells us about the legislation she is working on to make us all safer on the highway. Plus, Ralph invites you to join his “Congress Club.”

Dana Fisher is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. Her books include American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Waveand Activism, Inc: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns is Strangling Progressive Politics in America.” 

“This brings us back to this distinction between citizens who I think are extremely concerned on the left and are increasingly more engaged… but they’ve been focusing much more on this idea of mobilizing around specific events or a specific issue rather than organizing long term. And as a result, they’re not actually continuing to pay attention to and hold their elected officials accountable… It’s another reason citizens need to be organized, not just mobilized.”

Professor Dana Fisher, author of “American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Wave.”


“It’s interesting. The most powerful lobbies don’t have to rely on marches and demonstrations. You don’t have Wall Street rely on (marches). They do in-personum lobbying with their Senators and Representatives, wining, dining, campaign money, offering jobs after they retire etc. etc.”

Ralph Nader

Jennifer Tierney is a truck safety advocate and serves on the board of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH).

“The difference in the weight and the size of the truck versus the car makes these catastrophic injuries. And in fact, 96% of fatalities involving two vehicles, a truck and a car, are the passengers in the car… that’s pretty horrific numbers.”

Jennifer Tierney, truck safety advocate

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 381 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. John Puma says:

    Instead of “outsourcing” activism a more accurate description would be “neutralizing, undermining, pre-empting & parasitizing” activism

    It would be instructive to know, among organizations promoting “Democratic” policies, the amount of money collected from donors AND the proportion of that sum going to actual, genuine, populist causes as opposed to those operated by techno-managerial, neo-bourgeoisie, cons & grifters, INC.: THE constituency of the Democratic Party (R-USA).

    • Bruce K. says:

      I just have to theorize that look at the masses of money moved out of the working and middle classes up to the top. The “people” have no money or time to devote to politics. All that money has gone to the top, and it is being used to buy up a fake opposition party that is paid off to lose. Occam’s Razor says the simplest explanation is usually the best … that seems simple enough to me.

      • Bob says:

        if 40% of working people arer fooled and 90% of the people are working people that leaves 54 % of all the people + percentage of 10% who aren’t greedy – at least 3% and maybe 5so 57% — of 200million adult citizens at least and a vote donor margin of 28 millionpeople.If thet gave, on average $8/mo i.e $200 each election cycle, that would be $5.6 billion. So the math doesn’t support your position.

        • Bruce K. says:

          That you would use such an oversimplification to reply to my comment reveals blind support of the system without any facts of ideas other than the fake numbers you plug into a fake function() based on the the simplest of juvenile “if” assumptions.

          The commodity “money” is monopolized in such a way that political power can be removed from whole sectors of the population, that’s in addition to all the other manipulations that make massive political manipulation approach the ease of clicking a mouse.

          Lately we Americans have been redirected like dementia patients about how we are so proud of our American Exceptionalism, that we evolved past genocide and slavery, but it’s slavery in the outer undemocratic, undeveloped world that arbitrages American labor that has been the major factor in breaking democracy and economic prosperity.

          For 40 years there have been multiple memes that have justified government policy, that show the government was manipulated by money. Because in 40 years nothing they said were their priorities have come to pass, as in trickle-down – instead we have trickle-up – and all the old voice with nothing to say about it.

          And instead of slavery we have proxy slavery brokers by tyrants and dictators the world over that somehow mostly in the US are allowed to corrupt and destroy the system by supporting slavery in other countries, and then exporting our factories, technology, and high-level opaque business administration rules – and like the trickle down myth the myth was that we were bringing economic development to these countries and that would bring education and democracy.

          We have had half the world at one time fighting against its native populations who are being disenfranchised from their countries and land and rights, and how we have an economic justification to do it to Americans to … not that anyone needs a justification, because none of news shows are establishing political realities that our population can use our democratic process to correct.

          You might as well just say you didn’t like that I said that because it made you reactive and post in reflex a pansy half-assed defense of a getting more indefensible system every day.

  2. Don Harris says:

    The Deathocrats inability to turn activism into electoral (and legislative) success is by design, not ineptitude. The purpose is to keep activists under control by providing a false alternative to the Republikillers.

    The Congress Club is not going to be effective as it is just case work urging big money legislators to take action that the big money interests that they work for do not want them to take. It does not hold the politicians accountable. Neither do marches or demonstrations.

    The big money interests do not have to do marches and demonstrations because citizens do not hold the politicians accountable with the tools provided- our votes. We keep voting for big money politicians and then lament that they keep working for the big money interests.

    You need to add a third option to the Congress Club beyond the two letters urging the big money politicians to take action against their big money donors.

    You need to add a link to One Demand, where citizens can register that they will only be voting for candidates in 2022 that finance their campaigns with small donors only (no more than 200 dollars total contributions from any one donor per election, 200 primary, 200 general).

    If we want politicians to work for ordinary citizens they must be financed by ordinary citizens.

    We need to demand small donor candidates and enforce that demand with our votes. That is how we hold politicians accountable.

    And One Demand is how we organize holding the politicians accountable.

    Getting big money out of our political process is an issue that 80% of citizens agree on as a goal. Big money corrupting our political process is the major obstacle preventing available, affordable solutions to just about every other issue from being implemented and that makes it the first step to achieving progress on every other issue.

    Either add the link to One Demand and discuss it on the Radio Hour as you said you would on Washington Journal (10-24-2018 about 13 minutes in) or start something similar on your own to organize citizens to take this vital first step to wresting control of our electoral process from the big money interests.

    Provide citizens with the club they need to clobber the big money politicians and drive them from our political process and replace them with politicians that work for ordinary citizens because they are financed by ordinary citizens as these politicians will actually pay attention to the letters on the other issues and take appropriate action.

  3. Bruce K. says:

    I am on the Left.

    My primary understanding the world is that it is people versus money and power.
    That is what puts me on the Left, and i have no intention of changing that.
    I pay attention, read a lot, watch lots of different news, have very strong ideas and ideals,

    I am educated in science and technology and am a strong believe in nuclear power.
    That leaves me marginalized from the Left as I have to listen to the ignorance of my fellow
    Lefties are so quick to get turned off to the point where they judge and just turn off to people.
    No one ever wanted nuclear power but the calculus is – we keep doing carbon-based fuel
    until we can agree to shut that down, then we just lower our living standards and forego
    some of the remediations we could do if we had massive abundant power, or we go nuclear.
    With one we are knowingly heading directly to the end of the world, with nuclear we have
    a risk of having a Chernobyl of Fukushima in the next 40-50 years. Seems easy to figure
    out to me.

    They are like spoiled ignorant children.

    Unfortunately I also support Israel, and when I get the emails and newsletter from the Left
    first thing is that I hear a lot of ignorance and prejudice from people who have no idea what
    they are even attacking or supporting.
    I want to like and support AOC, and I do, but I have to just sigh when I hear her defending her
    other Squad members. Defund the Police … and Rashida Tlaib wants to end prisons.
    Somehow Lefties are brainwashed into a huge agenda that is all over the place, but mainly
    as fractured and divisive and have them running any reasonable or open-minded people off.
    To me the Left is about putting people before money. To me democracy is socialism, we
    have voting which is political democracy and labor unions and legal protections with is
    economic democracy. Those are the foundations of any change for the Left.
    Basically you have to take the money away from the people who are beating America
    to death with it. Most of the political Left is funded by billionaires who tell them very
    clearly where they boundaries need to be – and the politicians do not tell the people that.
    There is no democracy, and certainly no economic democracy.
    There is no prioritizing, there is no focus groups, communication … all there are are
    these show like this one where someone writes a book that few can afford and fewer
    will read and very few will hear about. There are no Leftist radio shows anymore …
    except the excellent Thom Hartmann show. The other day I made a few polite
    innocuous comments on YouTube when Thom was talking, and was promptly banned
    and my comments deleted. BANNED AND DELETED over a few comments.

    My strong feeling is that the Left is infiltrated by people taking money from the Right,
    either spies, corruption or useful idiots. All they have to do is to avoid saying things that
    are outside the Leftist ideological canon, and they have support for the most idiotic
    things … and we can all see it is not working, yet this broken model continues. Why
    did Ralph run for President in 2000 when he knows better than most he had no chance
    to win, no chance to affect the Green party, and now he is marginalized himself.

    When Bernie Sanders first ran I was overjoyed that someone with a new message
    was running, but quickly he ran into the same issues. Bad messaging, having to pander
    to the far left while pushing the moderates over to the Republicans … Democrats voted
    for Trump because of Democrats refusal to back a for the people agenda.

    Now Biden acts like he is being influenced by Bernie, but it appears to me that his
    political velocity and trajectory is going to fall short of making any significant inspirational
    change that will bring voters out in 2022.

    Books, podcasts, demonstrations, riots and violence is turning people away from the
    Democratic party … and that is completely predictable. The backers of the Republicans
    know the best way to control politics is to control the opposition party, and the Left is
    too impatient and uninformed to realize that taking back the Democratic party is the
    only game in town left … and it is very close to losing for good.

    Read Nancy McLean’s “Democracy In Chains” and that is what we will have in 2 years.
    Mitch McConnell says he will not bring any Biden Supreme Court nominee up for a
    vote. They pack the court, pack the Senate, almost own most of the rich local
    precincts and congresspeople. … and the Left keeps screeching about pie in the
    sky seem to have no realistic way to assess or view real politics?

    They shrug and laughs about how clueless Democrats are in messaging … I hear it
    all the time – but no one does anything. Heard a lot of good suggestions, even from
    Republicans. Democrats are paid off to lose, that is all I can think of. Maybe even
    threatened, because face it, it was not too long ago they were willing to murder people
    for wanting to end child labor or wanting to demand an 8 hour workday.

    What is going on in our country politically is nothing that is report on the news or talked
    about online. Gotta end this somewhere.

  4. Bruce K. says:

    > Getting big money out of our political process is an issue that 80% of citizens agree on as a goal.

    But 99% of the money says, no way!
    And 99% of the media noise says it is the fault of the Democrats.
    Little tiny media outlets in their isolated silos all think they are so
    clever, and the Leftist authors sells their books, but they never work
    together to forge any leadership coalition.

    The first priority ought to be to come to an understanding of what needs
    to be kept/changed, and what can be. Medicare, social security, education,
    social programs … maybe, but the Military Industrial Congressional Financial
    complex is now unassailable. So the Left should shut up about it and look
    for things they can agree on and work for that.

    After a victory … maybe more can be done. That is why the Republicans are
    working so hard to deny any kind of victory to Democrats, and with their
    media, and their propaganda, they can do it.

    • Don Harris says:

      99% of the money saying no won’t matter when the big money candidates are no longer getting 95% or more of the votes.

      Just 10% of the 150 million voters investing just 100 dollars in contributions to small donor candidates would total 1.5 billion dollars and come with at least 10% of the votes in 2022. This would encourage more citizens to participate in 2024.

      Ralph has said politicians want our votes more than the big money and it is time we found out if that is true.

      FDR said he only did the New Deal because the progressives said they would not vote for him unless he did it.

      Basic democracy.

      It has worked before and can work again.

      The first priority is eliminating the cause of inaction on other issues- big money corrupting our political process.

      Without taking the first step to remove the major obstacle to action it is an exercise in futility to try to prioritize any other issue and is the equivalent of pissing into the wind.

      • Bruce K. says:

        I really hope that is the way it works out Don, but I am highly skeptical. If the Republicans win big and get the House and the Senate in the next election and are able to fix the rules and cement them in the Supreme Court things will not be looking good for the long-term future. By then people’s children will mostly have forgotten about it.

        Progressives are not demanding Biden implement progressive reforms, at least maybe no loud enough, or maybe Biden needs to turn up his hearing aid. In either case time is really getting short. I left Biden a message that I like him, I voted for him, but he needs to get off his ass.

        • Don Harris says:

          You can hope or you can help by telling Ralph to discuss One Demand on the Radio Hour.

          You may be right about what could happen if Republikillers win big in 2022, but if Deathocrats win it will make little difference as they both work for the big money interests.

          “Progressives” are not demanding Biden implement progressive reform because they are only pretending to be progressives during campaigns.

          Biden will not respond to people that voted for him telling him to get off his ass because people have continued to vote for the big money Deathocrats even when they don’t get off their asses.

          No matter how small the chance of success is, you have a better chance of fixing our problems contacting Ralph and telling Ralph to get off his ass and inform citizens about One Demand.

          Contacting and voting for big money Deathocrats has no chance of success.

          • Bruce K. says:

            No offense meant, but I think your argument is backwards in the this argument is, if you lay it out and fully define it …

            To Wit: ( attacking the government is always a right-wing anti-democratic fascist thing to do, we must realize that, that theoretically like a man can bite a dog, there are no examples of real attacks on the government being productive )

            E.G. The phony argument that a citizen should rely on Private Enterprise and powerful individuals selected by money where there is no democracy instead of the Political System where there is at least the framework of democracy and the ability to analyze and mobilize citizens toward something they are morally and legally empowered to do … that is democratically affect the government.

            If you just give up on government, you do not get a better government, you get … well, pretty much what we have now, in disequilibrium sliding towards more disorder and fascism.

            Engagement in government, simplifying government and explaining it to people, and a clear enough public forum so actual thoughts and ideas could be expressed and debated. We have none of that anymore.

  5. Richard Curtis, PhD says:

    David asked, why does this problem exist. The answer is that the leadership of the Democratic Party is committed primarily to the capitalist class and its interests, so much so that they would rather lose elections than encourage their activist base. They are desperately afraid of those activists because they are socialists and threaten the class interests the party exists to protect. I don’t understand why this very basic fact eludes so many people. They are simply more committed to capitalist interests than they are to anything else including winning elections.

    • Bruce K. says:

      >> The answer is that the leadership of the Democratic Party is committed primarily to the capitalist class and its interests

      Well, and why wouldn’t that be – but it has to something much more too. Because so was FDR committed to capitalism, but it did not stop him from pushing our system into socialism …

      And here is where I keep pushing my main point … capitalism is capitalism … capitalism is not fascist, capitalism is not communist, capitalism is not socialist …. capitalism is a generalize term for a trade and barter economy … it is the substrate of the economy. China is supposed to be communist, but it is also supremely capitalist. The Scandinavian counties are supposed to be socialist … they all – every one of them have capitalist economies that interact with the world through capitalism.

      The point is, that seems intuitively obvious, but that I keep having to point out, that there are in general two “poles” of capitalism, like two poles of a magnetic … there is the tyranny/fascist pole and the democratic/socialist pole.

      The United States has been “we thought all along” in a kind of dynamic tension between the two where eventually the “arc or progress” would move towards socialism/more democracy … but when you look at what actually has happened since FDR, socialism has been vilified on many dimensions, and equated to fascism, tyranny, mob rule … all the negative bad things. Ironic isn’t it that what is taking over, more or less a fascist oligarchy is much worse than anything the Right described to vilify the Left.

      The point of that model is to point out that is was entirely possible – IF WE HAD A SANE, RATIONAL, GOVERNMENT MADE UP OF COMPETENT, PATRIOTIC STATESMEN for capitalism to co-exist with democracy, but the Right today is dedicated totally against democracy, i.e. started against labor unions, social programs, safety net, education, voting, multiculturalism, etc.

      The only possible explanation for the Right today is that they are dedicated towards bringing the US in line with Russia and China as a pseudo slave state with a under-paid slave minority with some facades of democracy, generally seen through by the rest of the Western world. But the same economic forces in the US that are causing the US to devolve into what it is going through will be metastasizing to the rest of the Western World.

      Why are they doing this? Because the “military junta” that runs the US feels it is losing its grasp on power and will not be able to control everything if it has to pay for the sins of the past, and the hopes for the future. There is some legitimacy there because as the US goes through this turmoil we are vulnerable to attack and chaos, especially now that we are so wedded to the Internet.

      The solution would be for everyone to calm down, for the Left to stop its hundreds or whines and complaints and prioritize the basics – leaving the military industrial congressional, corporate, complex alone and unthreatened – at least the time being. Settle on the “must-haves”, like health-care, education, voting rights, labor unions, safety-net, and leave things like attacking the military that could be construed as the agenda of our enemies alone.

  6. dave kay says:

    Are we the taxpayer paying for Trump to travel to and hold his invective rallies? Can you do a show on why we fund former presidents? These people typically come into office wealthy and then become even wealthier when they leave office. Has this Act to fund former presidents finally an anachronism?

  7. Neil Harris says:

    Regarding the truck safety segment, I live in farm country in downstate Illinois and another road hazard that is getting worse with time are farmers operating their large equipment on the public roads. They drive stuff like combine harvesters and gigantic tractors pulling wide plows that are much wider than a roadway lane. Farmers are a 3rd political rail, no pol dares oppose them, it’s like opposing Mr Rogers or motherhood or something. The farmers actually the laws relaxed, or the police just don’t enforce the laws, such as no farm equipment on the roads after sunset. I recently saw a large tractor on the interstate highway near where I live to, despite all the onramps being clearly marked “no farm equipment etc”. They are also allowed to drive atv’s on public roads and are permitted to shut down state bridges so their behemoths which take up two lanes can cross, with no police or dept of transportation assistance.

    Big farmers are a law unto themselves and a dangerous hazard.

  8. Don Harris says:

    Bruce K
    in your 07-05 post you seem to be saying that One Demand is somehow an attack on government. It is not.
    It is citizens using their votes (and money) to demand better government and enforce that demand with their votes.

    You seem to imply that One Demand is relying on private enterprise and powerful individuals selected by money.It is not. It is just the opposite.

    It is also the opposite of giving up.

  9. Sylvia Watterson says:

    The website did not provide easy access to my representative or a sample letter (I never found either). This is a web design problem on many websites.