Friday, October 21, 2022

#295 / Love Those Political Emails? I Doubt It!


On August 1, 2022, The New York Times published a "Guest Essay" by Lara Putnam and Micah L. Sifry. Their opinion piece ran under this headline: "Fed Up With Democratic Emails? You’re Not the Only One." 
If you don't know what "Democratic Emails" Putnam and Sifry are talking about, consider yourself lucky. Here's an example of such a "Democratic Email" from Putnam and Sifry's Op-Ed in The Times. This is a message from Nancy Pelosi sent out on April 28, 2022: 
“I asked — several times. Barack Obama told you the stakes. Joe Biden made an urgent plea,” she said. “I don’t know how else to say this, so I’ll be blunt: All these top Democrats would not be sounding the alarm if our democracy wasn’t in immediate danger of falling to Republicans in this election. I need 8,371 patriots to step up before time runs out, rush $15, and help me close the fund-raising gap before the End of Month Deadline in 48 hours.” 
I get about fifty to one hundred emails like this each day. To be fair, I get very similar emails (though a lot fewer) from Republican Party politicians, too. The question advanced by Putnam and Sifry is this: Do these emails help advance the political goals of those sending them? They don't really think so:

Inside Democratic fund-raising circles, this tactic is known as “churn and burn”: a way of squeezing money out of individual donors that reliably produces brief spikes in donations but over the course of an election cycle overwhelms their willingness to keep giving. Even worse, these apocalyptic messages fuel despair. If “democracy is in the balance” and then Democrats fail to pass restorative measures, voters inevitably must wonder, why keep trying?
Read the entire column to get the full benefit of the Putnam-Sifry analysis. The lesson for those who care about the future of democratic self-government is pretty clear. If we want to maintain our system of citizen self-government then we have to engage in on-the-ground, real life, analog, personal discussions and personal meetings.

There isn't any shortcut. 

Except for the fact that I am not a social scientist with methodological techniques to back up my assertions, I could have written the Putnam-Sifry "Guest Essay" myself. If we want "self-government," we need to get personally engaged in the political life of our community ourselves. And we have to build our engagement from the local level on up.

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