The Insatiable Political Money Appetite

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.

67815-mr_creosote-monty-python-obesity“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.

Alumni Appeals And Deaf Ears

I received my J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.  I’m proud of the education that I received there.  I root for Georgetown sports teams, I’ve contributed to prior fundraising appeals, and I’ve attended alumni gatherings.

Now, I keep receiving postcard requests to participate in an “important alumni project.”  They ask me to IMMEDIATELY call a “call center,” give a personal ID number, and then confirm “biographical information” for an “alumni directory” — a “definitive reference” that I’ll then have a chance to buy, of course.

I’m not sure how many of my fellow alums have dutifully made this call, but I’m not biting.  Everything about this deal screams unnecessary hassle.  So, let me get this straight:  even though every red-blooded American hates to communicate with the strangers manning phone banks at a “call center,” I’m supposed to call one voluntarily?  And then I’m supposed to give the random person who answers the phone personal contact data — including my cell phone number that is known to only a select few and has saved me from countless telephone solicitation calls?  And after spending whatever precious moments of my life are needed to “confirm” my personal data, I’m going to be willingly subjecting myself to a sales pitch for a directory?

Do the schools that take this approach realize how annoying these pitches are, and how they send a message that your time just isn’t that valuable?  It’s like stores that ask you to go on line for a “five-minute survey” about their shopping experience — you waste your time answering foolish questions, and the store ends up with free information.  I figure giving the store my business should be satisfactory; the promise of a possible “free prize” isn’t going to change my mind.

Of course, we all know what would happen to the information I would provide for the “directory.”  It would be used to ask me to make more contributions in the future, buy more school-related paraphernalia, and attend more gatherings where personal fundraising appeals  can be made.  And there’s always the possibility that my information would be sold to eager telemarketers who would love to add my phone number to their lists and turn our quiet evenings into Solicitation Hell.

The postcards I keep getting show my alma mater knows how to find me if they need me.  I just wish they’d have more respect for my time and my intelligence.