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'The People United Will Never be Defeated': Inside ACORN's Community Organizing Model


As ACORN pretends to “dissolve” around the country, internally, there appears to be a mad dash to get out ahead of prosecution. Not surprisingly, ACORN has a history of shutting offices down when an investigation gets too close. For example, in 2004 ACORN’s affiliate Project Vote abruptly closed its national office in Ohio and shipped boxes stuffed with un-cashed checks and paperwork to Washington, DC.

ACORN appears to have honed these tricks and has now decided to re-brand on a national scale. However, given its history, many are skeptical:

“If you want to see whether ACORN is really changing its ways, check to see whether the signatories to those local ACORN bank accounts are changing. When it comes to ACORN, the money is the organization, and the name is just the name.”

In order to operate effectively, ACORN requires little public scrutiny and a lot of lore and misdirection (think registering Mickey Mouse to vote). For 40 years ACORN’s organizing model has survived social revolutions and political upheavals and to understand ACORN a review of the 1970’s “manifesto” of ACORN founder Wade Rathke is essential.

Acorn Organizing Model

Keeping up with the little nuts that have fallen off Rathke’s tree has begun and one has to wonder how long before another mighty “oak” is formed.

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