There’s a rather large brouhaha growing over the fact that unbeknownst to a lot of progressives, Change.org – a site a lot of folks on the left use to build free petitions – is actually a for-profit consulting firm whose clients include some rather nasty conservative causes, including anti-union and anti-teacher clients.
I’m sure the folks at Change.org would argue that they’re simply in the business of making the world a better place, and part of the way you do that is by inviting all sides to participate, even conservative Republicans. (Otherwise, why would they be accepting conservative clients while claiming that they’re all about “change”? They clearly don’t find the two inconsistent.)
I’m sorry, but you’re not in the business of making the world a better place if you provide tools – excuse me, charge for tools – that good guys use to make the world a better place, and bad guys use to stop good guys from making the world a better place.
Change.org sounds like the global arms dealer who claims that they’re not hurting people because they sell guns to everyone. Well, of course they sell to all sides – no better way to keep the war going, and thus sell even more guns in the future.
Change.org hired a lot of our liberal friends, and some of us had qualms about the organization from the beginning – claiming themselves as a dot-org when they’re really a for-profit consulting firm; leading progressives to believe that Change.org is simply a free platform for progressive petition-building (when in fact they’re using people who sign those petitions to get more paying clients, including Republican clients); and now we find out that Change.org’s clients include bad guys, and that they’re defending that choice by arguing that bad guys do good too.
Well, no they really don’t.
I’ve been consulting for 15 years, and have been in politics for nearly 25. I know that the money in politics tends to be on the right. And it irks me to think that I’d probably be rich today had I remained a Republican rather than switching parties two decades ago. But I didn’t stay a Republican. I chose to change from John.com to John.org. And there’s never been a question as to whose side I’m on.
Change.org, however, has been Change.com from the beginning.
And let’s not even get into the other question of what that organization has done to effective advocacy by distilling all political action down to the equivalent of the Easy-Bake Oven – just pop it in and it’s ready! Now everyone’s an activist!
And it now becomes clear that Change.org’s intent all along – or, perhaps it was only after it was clear that the money was to be made on the right – was to truly make everyone an activist, even conservatives.
I’ve never been comfortable with political consulting firms who play both sides. I’ve always said that you cannot trust staff who work both the R and the D side of an issue – even if the staff are separate, one side of the company handles Republicans while the other side handles Democrats, good luck not have the R staffer see what the D staffer is doing, and then tell their R friends about it. I think it’s a rather large conflict of interest.
But more importantly, I think a lot of progressives would be upset if they knew that by creating, signing, or sharing a Change.org petition they were actually helping a consulting firm make a lot of money by advancing conservative causes.
Now they know.