[Part of a series, this essay explores aspects of the idiocy that characterize America’s two-party approach to political campaigns. Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow. Now available.]
Note: I am an unaffiliated voter — I am a member of neither the Republican nor the Democratic party. I used to be a member of one of them, and am still more generally aligned on most issues with that party. This essay captures the essence of why I dropped my membership with one party and why I would never become a member of the other party.
From October 20, 2022 through the publication of this essay, I received over 500 emails asking me for money in support of candidates for office in states in which I do not live. More than 300 of those emails came after election day, November 8, and specifically asked for money regarding the Georgia Senate runoff. I also received a significant number of snail mail documents — all of which were focused on local elections for the town, state, and national districts in which I actually live.
Between October 21 and November 5, I made four modest (two-figure) contributions to the campaigns of candidates whose positions on most issues I generally agree with. Despite the 300-plus emails that arrived in my inbox after election day, and despite my strong support for one of the two Georgia Senate candidates, I did not contribute to the runoff campaign.
Here’s why, and this is equally applicable to the Democratic and Republican parties and their leadership: if you really believe that the only way you can win and govern is by telling me multiple times a day you need another $250,000 by tonight’s (and tomorrow’s and the next day’s…) deadline — amounts and deadlines that you conjured within a system that you created— and that you’re counting on my $35 or $45 or $75 (which you’re willing to quadruple!!!) in order to outspend the other party’s extensive fundraising; and if you’re going to continue to ask me for money multiple times a day WHETHER OR NOT I MAKE A CONTRIBUTION this time; and if your requests are characterized by BOLD AND CAPS and yellow highlights (which I can’t reproduce here), then you must think I’m an idiot (I’m not, for the most part). Those highlighting tactics are consistent with what used to be used on late-night television commercials for kitchen gadgets, pain-relief gadgets, and OTHER important and REALLY good DEALS! They may still be used, but I don’t stay up late anymore.
Plus, if you can actually quadruple all those modest contributions, why do you need them at all? Just use the cash you already have on hand for quadrupling. The problem is that you (Republican and Democratic leadership) make the case that what’s needed to save the country (from each other) is more money from me and other citizens. You use this money for advertising. You advertise using hyperbole, insult, and distorted photos of your opponents (i.e. each other).
What the hell is wrong with you?
Yes, I understand that you wouldn’t be behaving as you do if you didn’t have research-based evidence that it works on American voters who suffer from civic (and other types of) ignorance.
Here’s one specific example — my views on a letter I received from a candidate in a race to represent me in Congress. The lowlight of this particular letter was the candidate’s (or his handlers’) attempts to associate his opponent with the “defund the police” folks. His opponent’s spouse is a veteran police detective. That’s a rather tame example, but it makes the point.
So again, I ask, what the hell is wrong with you?