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"You Promised To Donate!"

The Campaign Harpies Should Get What They Deserve


William A. Gralnick

Here’s another chapter in my ruination of democracy rant.

I don’t know whose idea this was. It seems that campaigns have chosen to be harpies or sound like someone’s mother-in-law is a surefire way to get people involved. My impression? Not!

Here is one tactic. It’s the old answer one question bait and switch. So you’ve answered the question to find that there’s a second page that confirms your answer. “Do you favor Politician X’s bill?” You get two choices, pick one and get the confirmation page. That page has a list of very slanted questions. At the bottom is a series of questions about your loyalty to a party or the state of the nation. These end with a final, “Will you donate…” and the option to “make it monthly.” You feel hoodwinked and just press submit, which earns you the page with large bold headlines that are a guilt club saying, “YOU PROMISED TO DONATE!” You’re a long way from that first question.

Then there’s this. You are told that you are the only person in your zip code being asked this question. You believe that the guy selling bridges will surely knock at your door. I can’t tell you how my times I’ve become the exclusive representative of my zip code.

A variation on that theme is: “We only need xxx number of people to answer this question” or, of course, to donate. That leaves one to ponder, “And then what happens?”

Well, here are some answers:

· Our ad buy won’t happen

· Our ad buy won’t run long enough

· We won’t be able to maintain our campaign office in …(that would be somewhere near you)

· We’ll have to lay off staff (also someplace near you)

· The other guys have raised a zillion dollars and we’ve only raised $4.00 so you need to give

· Or simply, our voices won’t be heard

This is from the great state of Vermont: “That’s why I’m sending you this email. Our (victorious!) campaign has some debt to pay off, and we’re under a time crunch to fill the gap. If you could split $20 right now -- between my campaign and Serve America -- to help us pay it down so that I can continue focusing my energy on serving in the Senate, I’d be very grateful.”

And from Kamala Harris we have this:

William -- Before President Biden gives his state of the Union address, I hope you’ll give me a chance to explain exactly how our team is building a better America and what a $25 donation to the Democratic Party would mean right now. By the way, who knows me calls me William. But I didn’t think the Vice President would know me anyway.”

While I am a long-time supporter of one party, I believe there are questions to be raised. For instance, should you give money to a campaign in another state? The answer might be yes, but mostly no. My opinion. How does one willing to give in moderate amounts decide how to give?

First is to remember the oft-quoted adage of legendary Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil who said, “All politics is local.” Pay attention to city and county elections if you want to get a pothole fixed or a street light installed. If you live in a state, as do I, where the Governor is turning things like education topsy-turvey, then be mindful of gubernatorial candidates.

It’s harder to make those national votes for Congress and the presidency. They tend to be personality contests. My suggestion is issue orientation. What are the most critical issues to you? And I do mean issues. To be a single-issue voter is closing your mind to other critical issues that together may outweigh your one issue in their impact on the health and welfare of our nation.

The key is education. Educate yourself so you can cast an educated vote. Then you can give money intelligently and vote intelligently, both of which you should do—at least from my perspective.

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