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 to 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 gotten a definite answer or commitment.

It's one of the most effective activist tactics in the toolbox! Here's why: Politicians of all parties determine their policy positions 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.

A hopeful woman talks with Richard Neal, who has a concerned look on his face and a pointed finger in the air
A young man speaks to Marco Rubio about NRA donations to political campaigns at a CNN town hall

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 position, making their toxicity more clear to people in their district.