Gene Lewis Perry

If life were like fairy tales, I'd have been devoured by trolls already.

living up to the promise

Posted on | December 2, 2008 | 1 Comment

The media has given plenty of attention to what Obama will do with his unprecedentedly large and detailed database of voters collected during the campaign.  This was the backbone of their wildly successful fundraising from small donors, but even before election day, the flush with cash campaign’s pleas for ever more money grew increasingly absurd.

I laughed out loud at one e-mail from Oct. 30 that cited “unexpected spending against us in Montana and West Virginia.”

As we saw on election day, if the GOP was having to spend money to defend Montana and West Virginia, Obama did not need any more of our money to beat them.

(Unlike most e-mails which came from luminaries like Joe Biden, David Plouffe, or Obama himself, it was from “Chief Financial Officer Marianne Markowitz,” perhaps because the others were too embarrassed to put their names to that particular beg.)

But hey, them’s elections.  I don’t hold it against them.  Even when the odds look good, the presidency is too important to worry about e-mail dignity.

But now that it’s over, they can devote this valuable resource to more altruistic ends, right?

Not so far.

The most recent plea promises a “limited edition sterling silver Obama keychain” for giving $30 or more to the Democratic National Committee.  Leaving aside that they are relying on tactics reminiscent of the Home Shopping Network, what the Democrats need now is not more money from us.  They will soon control the Congress and Presidency based on millions of selfless contributors and volunteers, and now it’s their turn to prove they deserved it.

Not to mention that improving the country, putting our economy back on track, bringing us health care and renewable energy… all of these things will do far more to get them reelected than a $30 contribution for a keychain.

It’s not a frivolous complaint.  The economy sucks, many people are hurting, and there are plenty of groups out there that could use that $30 to do much more good than putting it into the ad budget of the DNC.

And if they do eventually put the list to better ends, the attrition of those who unsubscribed because they were as annoyed as I was will make it that much less useful.

Obama has a powerful resource in the database and social network of committed donors and volunteers, but, unlike some of the critics have said, we aren’t a mob of mindless supporters.

Appeal to our desire to restore our communities and give us the tools to do so, and we will take action in a million beneficial ways.  Treat us like a bag a money to occasionally shake, and you may get a few extra dollars, but you will lose the potential for real community organizing and a new kind of politics that you claim to represent.


One Response to “living up to the promise”

  1. Beth
    December 6th, 2008 @ 11:12 am

    Point well made. I agree with you. I can only hope Obama doesn’t lose sight of his lofty goals that he so passionately preached during the campaign and the thousands of volunteers that helped him, both as volunteers and voters, as so many other politicians have when they have succeeded in their electoral pursuits. It is always easier to get people to “send money” than to give a much more valuable commodity in the long run, that of their time and insight and dedication to a cause. This type of following will always have a higher “payout” than the trickling in of cash, most of which ends up being wasted and poorly spent anyway.

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