John F. Kennedy announced his campaign for the 1960 presidential election in January of 1960. When did national political campaigns expand and became a 24/7/365 deal? Maybe in the 1980s or early 1990s. Consider what may be the main causes of that development: the explosion of the internet and the start of cable news networks.
The internet certainly does some wonderful things in providing and sharing information, but it also does a terrible job of separating fact from fiction, much less hyperbole from the outright dangerous. Everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame and then some by posting comments on a variety of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Much of that chatter is just notes to friends and colleagues, but some of it is deliberately designed to go beyond what used to be the lines of accuracy, civility, and decency.
Cable news networks in many respects function like the internet platforms, except that cable literally goes 24/7/365. To fill up all that airtime they recycle stories endlessly. They use a continuing stream of talking heads who tell us their opinion about those stories. Some of the commentators are ill-informed or biased. The Dominion lawsuit against Fox News has exposed how phony some talking heads are.
Piggybacking on all this chatter are politicians looking to literally cash in on the commentaries. I am referring to how politicians use the internet and cable chatter to raise money. The internet platforms are often their weapons of choice.
If you have ever given a campaign contribution, no matter the amount, or if you have ever signed up to attend a political rally your name and contact information has gone into a data bank for use by whoever it was you came in contact with. Campaign money solicitations make the vendors who run the effort rich; they pass on a relatively small part of the cash to the campaigns.
On a daily basis I receive scores of such requests. They are all alike and different at the same time. They come from candidates and potential candidates of both parties.
I trace the Democratic requests to my involvement over time in party politics and campaigns. The root of the Republican requests goes back to 2016, when I traveled to South Carolina to observe the highly contested Republican presidential primary. I attended rallies for Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. In each case I signed up by email. That is where the virus started.
What happens after the original contact is that both successful and unsuccessful campaigns or their vendors raise money by selling or “renting” the database of names and contact information that the campaigns have collected. The information can be quickly passed around far and wide.
You may ask, why don’t you just unsubscribe? That’s a good idea, but even when these solicitations offer an “unsubscribe” option, clicking on it often does not work. Besides, it doesn’t stop other campaign committees and candidates who have your contact information from using and re-selling it to others.
Here is a sampling of the solicitations that I have recently received.
- Donald Trump (R/MAGA) in my estimation is the king of internet political requests. I receive four or more per day. The frequency would seem to indicate that the fundraising isn’t going as well as it used to. You can give up to $11,600 to Trump Save America but he will accept $24. In one request he suggested that “anyone running for the office of President of the United States should agree to take a full and complete mental competency test.”
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (Ds) frequently ask for money for the DNC. $25 would help.
- Barack Obama (D) chimes in occasionally, as does his wife Michelle who recently asked for $10 to help elect Democrats to state legislatures.
- The Clinton’s (Ds) infrequently look to help candidates.
- Nikki Haley (R), the first candidate to declare her candidacy after Trump, recently reported on her “walk with God.” $25 would be helpful to her.
- Mike Pompeo (R) would like to provide you with an autographed copy of his book, “Never Give An Inch,” for a donation of $45. He also needs “your help to stop the Chinese takeover.”
- Perry Johnson (R) has a “Two cents plan” to save America. He finished third in the CPAC presidential straw poll.
- Vivek Ramaswamy (R) is angling to be the Andrew Yang of the 2024 Republican presidential primary. He is the author of “Woke Inc.” He could use $10.
- Bernie Sanders (D) would like you to help him re-regulate banks. He will be happy to accept donations as low as $2.70.
Past, present, and future House Speakers
- Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker, frequently asks for $10 donations to re-take the House.
- Kevin McCarthy, present Speaker, secretly reports on the need for campaign money.
- Hakeem Jeffries, Speaker-in-waiting, every day at 12 noon Eastern Time asks for a donation to re-take the House.
Senators and representatives
- Ted Cruz (R) is a frequent flyer. He is up for re-election next year. The “radical leftists are coming at [him] with everything they’ve got.” $15 would work for him.
- Rand Paul (R) is looking for help to “UNCOVER THE TRUTH ABOUT COVID.” You can “rush in” to help with at least $5.
- Cory Booker (D), advertising about twice each day, is fighting for police reform. Five dollars is his minimum donation level.
- Senator Jacky Rosen (D) says she is in one of the “most endangered seats” in 2024. $20 would be a nice donation.
- Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D), who was just re-elected last year, is raising money for other Democrats. $5 please.
- Representative Adam Schiff (D) is running for the Senate from California. Three dollars would be okay.
- Representative Jim Banks (R) is running for Senator and would appreciate $25.
- Senator Maggie Hassan (D) explains that she still has a campaign debt from last year’s election. $20 would help.
Political committees and their associates
- The NRSC is supporting no one in particular but would like $35.
- Former Trump Spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, knows “you’re extremely busy so [she] won’t be long.” Just send $35 to the NRSC.
- The NRA would like $23. “The anti-gun movement has never been as crazed as it has been this year.”
All of this does nothing to improve the governing of America or the political process in general. There is no end in sight. If you have a suggestion about how to clean up this mess, feel free to add to my email inbox. Just please don’t ask for money.