Some years ago a friend’s relative ran for political office. The friend sheepishly asked if we might make a contribution to the campaign. I didn’t know the relative, but we wanted to be supportive, so we kicked in a modest sum. It’s the only political contribution I’ve made in recent memory.
What happened next was that my email address, and the fact that I’d made a financial contribution, got shared with other politicians of the same political party — and suddenly I was receiving regular emails from lots of elected officials and erstwhile candidates for national and statewide office. The list of my political email correspondents continues to grow, and every one of the messages, without exception, seeks money. I’ll get four or five emails a day from the candidates themselves, their campaign managers, their political directors, and even other politicians who are supporting their campaigns.
“I’m asking you for $5.” “Robert, did you see the message from X?” “We need your help to meet our March fundraising goal.” “Don’t be fooled — this is not a safe seat.” “We’re counting on you to help us crush the dark forces of evil represented by the other party.” (OK, the last one isn’t a verbatim quote, but that’s the gist.)
It’s amazing how many fundraising appeals are sent, and how constant the barrage is. I suppose I could remove myself from the lists, but I find it interesting to get even this limited perspective into how our current political system works. It’s all about money, and scare tactics, and a parade of horribles designed to wrest a few bucks from the common man. And interestingly, every email with a desperate request for money that I get makes me less inclined to make another contribution. The fundraising pleas aren’t only manipulative, they also show that if I did make another contribution I’d only be feeding the beast, encouraging an even more overwhelming barrage of emails, and probably causing the campaigns to hire more people to do even more fundraising.
The appetite of political campaigns for money is as insatiable as the appetite of Monty Python’s colossal diner. You wonder if, like the diner, one day it’s all going to blow up.