Sunday, June 24, 2012

Political Contributions: A Nice Gesture or Payola?

My general take on politics is no big secret if you actually read this blog. If you haven't, my basic attitude is that it's all bullshit & even if I were in charge, there would still be corruption and garbage going on. I also had some rather intimate experiences in the world of politics and despite being told I ought to run for office, I think I'm just too ethical myself for the task. You know people would bitch & moan about me being A) childfree, B) not being some devout God bothering asshole & C) the owner of an independent mind with my own point of view.

One of those experiences dealing with the intimacy of politics is a judicial campaign. A judge I do not know personally, who has taken zero personal interest in my life either got or decided to add my private e-mail address to her campaign mailing list (likely because of being on the same bar association committee as me). The very first event I got invited to as part of this campaign was for a meet & greet where the "suggested contribution" was $1,000.

Now, I have no general problem with people doing fundraising. Indie film people have to do fundraising all the time, either through getting investors or launching campaigns on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. They give you different incentives depending on what you can contribute. Generally, the discussion in those fundraising efforts is "give if you can & if you choose to do so, give what you can." They don't take on the attitude that you are worthless if you can't give a "suggested donation/contribution."

Friends of mine are also in local political office or ran for it. I remember them mentioning their campaigns on Facebook. One even ran for NC State Senate. They managed to incorporate news of their campaigns and ask for money without being irritating about it. They also told you what they'd done specifically and where they stood on specific issues to convince one to donate to their campaigns.

So, I'm aware that politicians have to get money from somewhere since the government refuses to enact any true campaign finance reform and make it fair for all people to run for office in a viable manner, not just those born to money. Yep, I think Citizens United is a stupid precedent & should be tossed post haste though I actually studied it in my Supreme Court Symposium class and have more understanding of it than your average person.

However, I think some distinctions on this are in order:

1. None of my friends who had campaigns e-mailed me about it. We're talking about my friends. This was a total stranger who sent me an e-mail about the event.

Announcing a campaign on your Facebook page is not the same as sending me a direct e-mail on it.

2. My friends didn't have "suggested contributions" and if they had, I guarantee it wouldn't have been $1,000. Everyone I've told about this suggestion (including someone who works in government) thought it was tacky, distasteful and unreasonable.

You should know that I wouldn't give $1,000 to anyone without justification, not even a family member & probably not even if $1,000 became like $10 to me. I have also never made a political contribution to anyone & if you want one, you'd better really wow me + take an interest in my life, events, etc. If I feel you're just patronizing me & don't really care about my concerns, I'm not going to bother.

3. I know my friends would actually listen to what I have to say without me giving them a dime for political campaigns. They would actually take me seriously if I made a point & give me credit for it. This judge didn't give me that sense based on all this lack of personal e-mails and conversations with campaign reps.

Telling me that my voice means nothing to you unless I give you money sounds an awful lot like payola to me. Remember payola? It was when radio stations were paid to play songs by particular artists, translating into those songs becoming popular, going up the charts, etc. It was a huge scandal.

Now, that's not to say it doesn't happen today (I really have no personal knowledge of if it does or doesn't) but we're talking about public servants here. You know, people who are supposed to be serving EVERYBODY regardless of their campaign contribution to the election or how much money they have.

Radio station owners, at least, are not under public duties to serve people. They have no high moral ideals they're supposed to be meeting in playing or not playing a particular songs. Politicians and other elected officials are a different story. They're supposed to be held to much higher standards.

If they aren't, why does anyone give a damn if a politician cheats on his wife, propositions little boys or goes to a hooker? If we're allowing payola here, shouldn't we just admit that politicians aren't held to any standards of decency or public conduct? I don't consider being forced to purchase equal rights or rational thought from someone a decent act. I'd rather be represented by the adulterer or patron of hookers.

Even the pedophile would be better than the "buy my advocacy" candidate & I think pedophiles deserve what they get in public outrage & vigilante justice.

In response to this suggestion, I wrote back telling this person they were barking up the wrong tree considering what I & my husband do for a living. I also explained that I would likely never appear before this judge & without knowing anything about this person, I'm not handing over a dime much less an amount that would impose a hardship on my household.

A rep from the campaign then contacted me and said she'd send me info on more affordable events (this meaning the minimum contribution was $100, which is still excessive to me). I then get an e-mail recently on events (including one the same day that I saw after getting home from work). The only event that worked with my schedule was the make-up of the $1,000 contribution one. It turns out someone I knew was a host at the event so I asked her about this contribution thing, making the same points I'd made before on cost & the fact that my husband gets a say in such things as well so no way am I paying a dime without an opportunity to meet the person myself and form my own opinions.

I heard nothing back so I decided it was not worth me taking off work early to attend.

So, basically I have a real problem with the idea that my voice is only worth whatever extortion money you collect from me. I'm not going to vote for someone who expects me to hand them money to do a damn thing to benefit me. What the hell is the point? Hence, my extreme cynicism over politics.

I'll tell you right now that my company has never treated fans who didn't give to a campaign or who had less money like garbage while reserving the good treatment for investors. I wouldn't let them, either. That's classism at its core & acting that way proves to me you have zero class. Funny, I'm not even running for public office & I conduct myself that way. Why can't this person or other politicians?

What really irks me is groups like Move On or People for the American Way. I'll sign some of their petitions (if I agree with the issue) but I took my e-mail off PFAW's list after this insulting e-mail I got (complete with tons of links):

"Dear M,

It appears that the most unlikely name of all may now be supporting Mitt Romney for president:

M T (the name I used on these sites)

Please give me a moment to explain.

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, corporations now have the same free speech rights as people when it comes to spending money on America's elections. Every time you pay your bills, buy gas, food, or any other everyday item, some of that money is going directly into Mitt Romney's campaign budget.

That is why it is so important that you renew your PFAW membership.

If PFAW loses someone as committed to the American Way as you are M -- to someone like Mitt Romney -- either directly or simply by your inaction ... our civil rights and liberties as Americans will be absolutely devastated.

Please become one of the 7,987 newly renewed members we need standing with us this election year against the Radical Right. You already know what Romney's extreme right agenda would include --

Advancing the War on Women -- defunding family planning, denying access to basic birth control, and criminalizing reproductive choices.
Packing the Supreme Court with justices like Robert Bork -- who Mitt Romney named to co-chair his presidential advisory committee on law, the Constitution and the judiciary.
Privatizing Social Security and devastating Medicaid.
Slashing federal safeguards for the environment, energy and education.

We need the renewed support of 7,987 members by October 2012, so please make an urgent renewal contribution today.

With just a few months left before Election Day, we can’t take ANY chances! Republican extremist and anti-Union Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin showed the impact of the Right’s big (and early) money advantage. And that’s exactly why your renewed support is needed more than ever before!

We need to pull out all the stops to defeat Romney and his radical right agenda RIGHT NOW! There isn’t much time left! It is imperative that we -

* Organize progressive voters and get them to the polls on Election Day. Get-out-the-vote efforts were essential to our victories in 2006 and 2008, and will be again in 2012.
* Fight the outrageous lies being propagated by the Republicans and the Tea Partiers to build unfounded fear and resentment for President Obama and Democrats in Congress.
* Buy airtime and advertisements on television, radio and the internet. We also need funding for phone banking and mail efforts to reach voters directly.
* Put “boots-on-the-ground.” People For the American Way is placing staff members in key districts to best coordinate our forces.

All this takes resources -- which is why PFAW needs you to renew your 2012 support immediately. Because if the unthinkable happens, we will only have ourselves to blame for not doing even more to prevent it. Please renew today!

Michael B. Keegan signature
Michael Keegan, President

The subject was: M, thank you for your support of the Romney campaign

I took my name off their mailing list right away & wouldn't do crap for these people. Newsflash: when all your e-mails or even over 50% of them are "give me $," you're wasting your time & pissing me off. This pissed me off on a nuclear level. I felt it was inflammatory. Pissing me off isn't going to inspire me to help you; it will most likely inspire me to tell you to go fuck yourself.

When I don't know who the hell you are, you have made zero effort to listen to what I have to say & never bothered responding if I complain about something you are wasting your time. If I gave $ to everyone who asked, I'd be flat broke as most everyone else would be.

Accessibility is very important to me & I strongly believe that politicians for the most part are anything but (certainly most people running for office can be included here). When I'm only getting form letters from your office & you merely condescend to me, I'm not going to care about what you do & I will go out of my way NOT to do anything that might remotely benefit you.

Just so you know, I'm not some little peon you can spit on; I have a comparable education and experience to you so probably better for you not to fuck with me. 'Kay? (imagine the head turn of Dr. Hutchison from Rocko's Modern Life as you read this)

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