Ring-ring. From a somewhat distant-sounding voice, having just mispronounced your name: “Hello, are you aware of issue/candidate X? I’m asking for, I mean conducting a poll about, it/her/him, and I just need a few moments of your time.”
And then at the end of the “survey” you’re asked for a donation.
Subject: Keychain design (you haven’t chosen yet!)
Message: Help Candidate Y choose the slogan for the new swag we’ll be using to share our message. Just choose your favorite from the following list …
… and you click through and are presented with another opportunity to “Donate to the Campaign.”
Cue Pink Floyd. Again.
We all say that politics is supposed to be about candidates with the right qualifications and ideas and character who will faithfully represent their constituents and lead us all into a brighter future. And then we’re presented with a constant stream of calls and emails (and social media posts) like the ones above, and we wonder where all that money goes.
Is it only to fund the seemingly endless cycle of appeals that feed one another? Does it just contribute to the barrage of TV and radio ads that so often attack people, dredging up old scores to settle, instead of clearly presenting issues for voters to decide about?
Answer: Yes. Sometimes.
And it can get very frustrating, and can dissuade people from wanting to give or even participate in elections.
Which is disastrous.
Because especially at the local level, fundraising is a necessary part of candidates’ and parties’ efforts to attract and retain and present good candidates so that they can share their ideas with the voting public, so that they – we – can make informed choices about our leaders and the policies they will advocate for and pursue to make our lives better.
So politicians send out requests for money.
But even more important than those one-way requests are the invitations to attend and participate in fundraising events.
And in those two-way interactions, the benefits to candidates and donors are multiplied. Voters get to hear first-hand what the candidate’s positions are and how they will be enacted – and they sometimes get to hear follow-up questions and answers. Voters also have the opportunity to meet with others who are either there with questions to ask or who are already supporters and can help candidates share some of their answers. Candidates have the invaluable opportunity to meet constituents face to face, to hear what their questions and concerns are and to make sure that they have an answer – or a chance to look more deeply into an issue and find a way to address it.
And – and this is important – fundraisers allow us, candidates and voters, to come together as regular people and have some fun. Now, some events certainly facilitate that more than others, but any time we’re face to face rather than on the other side of a screen or speaker or phone from one another, and can look one another in the eye, the chances of a smile and walking away from the interaction lifted up at least a little greatly increase.
So, if this sounds like an opportunity for a good time to you, join Bolingbrook United at our Fat Tuesday Fundraiser on February 13th. Details are in the link. I hope to see you there; make sure to say hi – and “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”