Desperate Pleas For Campaign Cash as Election Nears

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Early voting is well underway for the Nov. 8 general election. Hence, the number of email and text message fund-raising pleas filling my inboxes has increased exponentially in the past week. Clearly, I somehow landed on a mailing list that was shared with folks running all over the country — Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa, Wisconsin and Florida, to name a few. Nearly all of these go into the promotions inbox of my Gmail, so each morning I hit “select all” and send them all to the trash. For grins, I decided to let them accumulate, not so I can actually donate money, but to collect the subject headings.

This weighs heavily against my OCD inclinations when it comes to email. I rarely go a day without cleaning out my inbox of the detritus, not just from candidates but the companies on whose mailing lists I have landed by virtue of having once purchased something. Or accidentally clicked on a link. Or maybe they just read my mind, a scary thought. Occasionally, I will devote 15 minutes or so to unsubscribing from the various unwanted email lists. This is doubtless a losing battle. I am outnumbered.

As the election nears, the tone of some of these subject lines have become a bit desperate:

  • We can’t buy time. (We can’t sell it either.)
  • Sick to my stomach. (I recommend an antacid. That usually works for me.)
  • You won’t hear from me again after this. (Not true: This candidate sent the “Sick to my stomach” email the next day.
  • We’ve failed. (Dang. This candidate apparently is giving up before the election has taken place.)
  • I swore an oath. (Then you better keep it.)
  • Without you, we could lose. (I did not realize my influence was that great.)
  • For the price of a latte. (Is that a tall or a venti?)
  • For the price of one morning coffee. (See above.)

We no longer have cable television or a satellite dish, having cut the cord several years ago. Since we stream everything we watch, we are able to dodge the plethora of political commercials that usually fill the airwaves this time of year. The ads that pop up on the digital news sites I read are easily ignored.

None of this means I don’t take elections seriously. My Beautiful Mystery Company and I have already voted early, in person, to make sure our ballots count. I have donated money in the past — very modest amounts — to a few candidates. I suppose that is how I got on the mailing lists of folks running for office on the other side of the country.

I got back in the news reporting business nearly two years ago, writing the weekly Capital Highlights column for the Texas Press Association, which runs in about 100 Texas community newspapers. Accordingly, I have a self-imposed ban on donating money, putting up yard signs or slapping bumper stickers on our vehicles for someone running for office. Nobody asked me to do this, but since I report on the actions taken by many of the folks running for statewide office, it seems the judicious course to take. Besides, it saves me money.

  • Outraised again. Sorry to hear that.
  • Can you pledge to vote on November 8th? Sorry, we have already voted and would rather not face indictment for voting twice.
  • Can we count on you? As I noted, the pleas for money are becoming increasingly desperate in tone.

Look, I understand it takes money to run a political campaign. And sending out email blasts is likely one of the least expensive ways to reach potential donors. But it doesn’t strike me as being terribly effective, either. I suspect nearly everyone whose inbox gets inundated with these cries for money hits the delete key or just ignores them altogether, along with the other forms of electronic junk mail that comes their way.

After a week of not deleting, my promotions box contained 412 messages. It was time to end this experiment. With a few clicks, the promotions box was empty, though surely not for long.

I feel so much better now.

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