US election will bring end of fundraising appeals - opinion

Washington Watch: The sky is falling, send money

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020 (photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL VIA REUTERS)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020
There are many, many reasons I will be happy to see this election end, and I expect you will, too. One of them is an end to the flood of fundraising appeals that inundate my email account, my phone and my snail mailbox.
Their message can all be summed up in a single word: Gevalt.
That’s sort of a Yiddish Chicken Little cry.
Let me tell you at the outset that anyone appealing to you for a few dollars to sign a “birthday card” to a candidate, answer a questionnaire, compete for free trip to a Trump rally or a photo with your favorite candidate doesn’t give a hoot about any of that. What they want is your email address or phone number so they can inundate you with appeals that make the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes look like spring showers.
Once you’re hooked, you have a friend for life. They will keep coming back. Again. And Again. Those little donations show how many “little people” (“small donors” in the trade) are backing the candidate, unlike the opponent’s big money special interests (which your guy is also aggressively courting but not in any mail to you).
Your new friendship won’t end when the polls close. The fundraisers will only slow down a bit while you catch your breath.
The next campaign begins just after this one ends, but your friend has friends, too, and your name can be worth more than whatever has already been squeezed out of you. It will be sold to other candidates, committees, campaigns, interest groups and anyone willing to pay. That’s what fundraisers do. Ask for money. Schnorring.
If you want to test the process, when giving your name, use a different middle name or title; that way you can tell who also has your name.
Billion-dollar campaigns ain’t cheap.
If you are Jewish or have a Jewish sounding name, you’re likely also to get a ton of appeals from candidates telling you how much they love Israel and need your help so they can protect the sacred Jewish state from its enemies foreign and domestic (i.e., the other party). They’re likely to avoid specifics and stick to broad generalities – love, democracy, freedom, Iran nukes, Islamic terror, shared values – so read the appeal carefully. You’re unlikely to find more than platitudes.
Both parties play the “We Love Israel More” game, so make sure you look deeper than the sweet nothings in the appeal and find out more about the candidates and their views on issues important to you (think Google).
What they probably won’t tell you is their party affiliation, especially if they’re Republicans, because they know that Jews usually vote overwhelmingly Democrat.
An American Jewish Committee poll out this week indicates 75% of Jews intend to vote for Biden and only 22% for Trump. I am not saying don’t give, just do it with your eyes open.
What do you get for your $5? Lots more mail. That’s nice if you’re lonely and feeling neglected, especially if you’re quarantined.
IF YOU just want to express your support, do so. Small contributions add up and are touted by campaigns as signs of widespread grassroots backing. Barack Obama proved that a dozen years ago; Joe Biden is far ahead in that category this year. There’s also the satisfaction of feeling you helped a cause you believe in. But understand your backing comes at a price: the deluge.
There are other ways to help even – or especially – if you don’t have deep pockets. Call the campaign, volunteer to help. There’s not much door-to-door canvassing in these pandemic days, but you can make calls, stuff envelopes and put up signs. You can also volunteer to work at the polls for the local Board of Elections, but beware of the Trump campaign’s effort to enlist an “army” of unofficial poll watchers whose real job is to interfere and intimidate – not assist – voters. Republicans historically do best when turnout is low.
Appeals for donations usually appear to come from the candidate personally – as if you’re naive enough to believe they have time to write to you when they really spend most of their time on the phones calling the folks with the big bank balances.
All presidents reward big donors. Bill Clinton offered a stay in the Lincoln bedroom; many give out medals, invitations to state dinners, rounds of golf, box seats at the Kennedy Center and rides on Air Force One. Cabinet posts and foreign embassies are the top of the list. Trump appears to be more intent on appointing wealthy supporters than picking quality people, judging by his historically high turnover, scandals and indictments.
Some fundraising appeals I’ve received in the past few days ask me to show my support/opposition on the Supreme Court appointment. They want me to know I can “mean the difference between winning and losing.” I’m “asking you politely.” “Trump is in my state.” “Thank you from the bottom of my banjo” and “Send more.”
Perhaps the most blatant and pathetic this year is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) going on Fox News literally begging viewers to “Help me. They’re killing me moneywise” because Democrats “hate my guts.”
Most email and robocall appeals may be signed by prominent backers, former opponents, campaign managers and celebrities and even, Barack and Michelle Obama, but they really come from anonymous ciphers in campaign war rooms.
My personal favorite celebrity signers are Donald Trump’s children, Donald Jr. and Eric, who want you to know their father “personally asked me” to write.
Don Jr. chided one potential but apparently reluctant contributor: “Have you stopped checking your email? You’ve been invited to join my father at the 2020 Convention Celebration in Florida, but our records show that you’ve IGNORED all of our emails.” When there was no response, the exasperated presidential offspring wrote, “I convinced my father to give you another chance,” according to
Eric wrote to another contributor, “Team Trump just informed me that you haven’t accepted my father’s offer to join the Trump 100 Club, and I have to admit I’m pretty disappointed.... We won’t extend your match offer again. Don’t let the president down.”
Unlike nearly every appeal I’ve seen across the political spectrum, those from the petulant Trump boys seem to be saying, “Send money or we’ll be mad at you, and you know how Daddy is when he doesn’t get what he wants.”
Maybe that helps explain why Joe Biden and the Democrats have been so successful raising money in this election cycle.