June 07, 2009


My husband received the 2009 Republican Party Census Document in the mail the other day.  I thought I might fill it out to let them know what we think.  Sadly, I quickly realized that all the questions were worded so as to elicit Yes answers, and all of them pertained to some imaginary form of the Republican Party that is nothing like the one that actually exists right now.  Such as this gem:

Should the Democrats' so-called Stimulus Bill with its wasteful pork-barrel spending be repealed?

Now of course I answered Yes to this, but I had the huge urge to scribble in the margin: You no-good, yellow rats. You and Pres Bush opened the door for all this with the bank bailouts and now you're going to act like your hands are clean?

All the questions were worded so that any typical Republican would answer Yes to all of them.  I answered Undecided on one Patriot Act question and No to a euthanasia question, not so much because I'm fully decided on that issue but just because I was starting to feel like my Yes answers were being taken for granted.  If you design a survey with the intent of obtaining all Yes answers, you probably aren't very serious about really checking the pulse of your constituents.

Other questions annoyed me too, like:

Should Republicans filibuster judicial nominees who bring a personal, left-wing agenda on social issues to their jobs as judges?

Yes, but they also should filibuster any nominee with a blatant right-wing agenda.  Judicial agendas are a bad thing, no matter which side.  Don't get all high and mighty.

Should the Republicans continue to support the State of Israel?

Seriously, if anyone answered No to that, I wouldn't know how to keep my cool.  I'm furious that it was even considered one of the 27 most important questions the RNC wanted to ask its supporters.

So I get to the end of the survey and start to think that my participation is pretty worthless.  What have they learned from me?  That I follow the basics of the right-wing talking points 93% of the time?  That seems like a pretty worthless thing for them to learn about me...especially when I feel like they aren't answering Yes forcefully enough to most of these questions.  Or they're totally missing the boat by not asking questions about immigration or gay marriage to really test their base and see how people feel.

So I was disgusted by the survey and didn't really think it was worth my time to mail it in.  Then I noticed the final question:

Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?
  • Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generous contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $35, $25
  • Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time.  However, I have enclosed $12 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.
  • No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.
And that's when I about flipped my lid.

Those are my choices?  Either I mail you $250 or I love socialists?  Really?  That's the absurd choice you printed on this lame survey?  It couldn't possibly be that I don't want to send you any money because this Democrat Lite you've been shoving down our throats for years is flawed?  It's not possible that I think you're all a bunch of spineless sycophants who no longer represent me?  That you're all just a bunch of wimps who are afraid of looking racist, sexist, classist, timecist, or whatevercist, so you grant the premise, thereby compromising our values and losing all moral ground?

And you want twelve wing-wangs just to cover the cost of this preposterous survey?  You sent me a survey that you crafted so I'd answer Yes to every question, and then you want $12 for the pleasure of having me reassure you that you're on the right track?  Not even close.

And don't think I didn't remember the irony of this paragraph from Tyler Cowen's book:

Does the Republican or Democratic National Committee make you angry?  Run up the costs of their operation.
Choose one non-profit you do not like and send them twenty bucks.  Once is enough.  Mention that you are thinking of putting them in your will, or perhaps let it drop that you play at the local polo club or own a yacht.  Keep your name on their mailing list.  Send in all future changes of address.  This action will drain that cause, and it's like-minded allies, of hundreds of thousands of dollars for years to come.

You're lucky I'm only mad right now and not devious.

You want my support?  Stop wasting money.  Stop wasting it within your own organization by constantly sending me mailings begging for money and asking me to please use my own first-class stamp to help you cut down on costs.  Stop wasting money once you're in office by playing Democrat Lite and pretending that this massive disaster we're facing doesn't exist.  And I'm not even talking about Obama; I mean the fingers-in-ears we've been doing for years over Medicare and Social Security, the War on Drugs, Education, you name it.  Stop taking in our tax dollars and pretending that you can fix anything.  You can't.  The only fix is to tell the American people to keep their own money, suck it up, and take care of their damn selves.

Stop wasting money.  Stop asking for money.  Stop creating surveys you already know the answers to.

And you can have my opinions for free.

Posted by: Sarah at 01:35 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 936 words, total size 6 kb.

1 So, I'm not really sure where you stand on this, Sarah... *snort*

I agree totally.  On the same wasting money tangent - Air Force Guy sends back all unsolicited credit card applications with trash in them.  As heavy as he can make them, since they're all pre-paid envelopes.  Someday they'll stop sending that crap out.

That stupid survey wasn't to actually GET opinions, it was a psychological ploy to make people think they're opinions are valued and matter and to make people have the feeling they are contributing to the national direction.  The Democrats do it, too - I got tons of obnoxious "surveys" soliciting money because of my party registration before we moved out of CA.

Did they send a prepaid envelope with it?  I would totally print out your blog post and send it back to them with the notation that they don't NEED false stupid survey money begging - they should actually ask for people's opinions. 

Probably won't do anything, but it might make you feel better.

Posted by: airforcewife at June 07, 2009 02:54 PM (NqbuI)

2 YOU should run for office.  If you were on a ticket, I'd vote for you and I'm NOT a Republican.    Seriously though, you understand what the Republican party is supposed to be and you fiercely protect that.  That's so much more than what I see from most Replublicans and the politicians that are supposed to be representing them. 

Posted by: Val at June 07, 2009 04:54 PM (5btL/)

3 It's amazing how reliant some organizations and businesses are on tiny response rates. How many Republicans fill out junk like this - and mail it back? How many people buy the junk being sold by spam?

Your key line is:

"If you design a survey with the intent of obtaining all Yes answers, you probably aren't very serious about really checking the pulse of your constituents."

They want you to tell them they're OK.  But they're not. And they'll keep doing whatever they want anyway. And call it "right-wing" and "conservative".

Notice the use of vague words like "left-wing" and "liberal". I doubt the survey allowed you to define them from context. From my perspective, the Republicans are becoming increasingly left-leaning liberals. By not defining these terms, they hope the respondent will assume that the Republicans are the 'good guys' fighting against a vague yet menacing enemy whose details are left to the imagination - it's as eeeevil as you want it to be.

I plead guilty to having used such vague terms myself, but I think you and I at least agree on what they mean for us. I don't think the RNC thinks of themselves as "left-wing" and "liberal". They define themselves as The Other. We're Not Them. I'm Not Obama. That is not an attractive message, as McCain should have learned (but probably didn't). It's a defeatist message. It lets the enemy define you. It reeks of weakness.

This whole letter is one long expensive confession of weakness. Help us! Reassure us!

But you won't.

I have never been a Republican and I certainly am not going to sign up now. Their opposition has been pathetic. The presidential election was embarrassing.

And I think the party will only become more self-destructive over time. I'm no insider - I barely can stand to glance at them at all - but I suspect they think they failed because they weren't cool enough. Not Obama enough. They want to be duh-lightfully D-lite and expect you to express your approval of this new duh-rection with your money. When the money - and the votes - stop coming in, when more people like us refuse to support their travesty, while the Original D take over, the Meghan McCains will think they need to move even more leftward and drive the party straight over the cliff.

I don't see any happy ending.

The American people don't want "to keep their own money, suck it up, and take care of their damn selves." The Omerican peOple want the gOvernment to take care of them. This includes the so-called Republicans, moderates, and even libertarians who cOnverted during the last election. Even non-cOnverts haven't thought out the issues the way you have. How many Republicans vote out of habit instead of - it's soooo hard! - thought?

This survey is crafted for the reflex Republicans, the mindless who will vote for anyone bearing the sacred letter, regardless of what it stands for, bailouts, amnesty, whatever.  They are only capable of instinctively reacting to icons. To them, the R is all that matters.

But it is ideas, not mere labels, that really matter. How do we sell our ideas to a complacent, poorly educated populace including reflex Republicans? Are they willing to listen? Can they even understand us?  When they get back Air Force Guy's stuffed envelopes, do they even know what that means?

The only language their superiors understand is money and power, and I'm not giving it to them. No payments, no votes, nada.  Just opening their envelopes makes me feel like I'm wasting my time.

I've seen bloggers like you, commenters, so-called ordinary people, blow away these alleged superiors in terms of both intellect and knowledge. Those in power are so often those who least deserve it.

We can't expect a McCain to become whatever we want him to be. What is he going to do, rely on printouts of TTG to keep him straight? No, he's just going to remain a D-lite-fool maverick.

Since those in power do not and will not stand for us, I see only two ways out. Either we take power ourselves or leave the system. Like Val, I would love to vote for you. Move over, Palin, this Sarah is the real deal. I have met you. You have the charisma to win people over. More importantly, you have the ideas, the ability to think, the desire to grok. Alas, all that is lost on our people. Some of them might even confuse you with Palin! I am ashamed of Omerica, this thing our nation has become. The gulch looks more attractive all the time. Yet it too is not realistic.

What are we going to do?

What if Un-Liberaled Woman is right? What if Mike Judge really is our generation's Nostradamus?

Will we just have to sit back and laugh like Judge's earlier creations Beavis and Butt-Head?

Will those who say "uh-uh" to both Republicans and Democrats today be saying "huh-huh" someday? 

Posted by: Amritas at June 07, 2009 10:20 PM (b3Ptv)

4 When I get one of these pieces of tripe, I fill it out in red pen, adding in my own answers, instead of the "toe the party line answers."

Any questions that piss me off get special consideration--like anything on immigration, gets the response of "your last candidate for president was a fucktard when it comes to immigration.  Borders exist for a reason, and if your candidate isn't willing to enforce them, I won't vote for him."

2nd amendment-- "If your candidate can show me one instance, just one, in all of human history, where limiting access to handheld weapons has made the population safer, I'll vote for him.  Otherwise, he should be running on a platform of repealing all gun "control" legislation."

Healthcare--"It's not a right to have healthcare provided by the government.  Show me where it says that in the constittution, or take the correct stand on it--all people have a right to emergency, lifesaving healthcare.  They also have a right to pay for it, and the free market has produced the greatest healthcare system in the world, and screwing with that is ridiculous.  If they want free healthcare, they can join the military."

Then, when the begging starts, I write, with big bold letters on the donation form--"Since I turned 18 and my opinion mattered, I've voted along republican party lines, for the most part.  However, I'll not give youany of the money I  earn  until you actually put forth candidates who are truly conservative and understand the role of government the framers intended.  Stop trying to be "democrate lite" and start acting like conservatives.  Clean house and drop those who are supposedly republican, but vote according to popularity polls.  (John McCain, for instance.)  Start taking a hard line on who you support for office, and clean house within the party, evicting those with questionable voting records and even more questionable morals.  Until then, you won't see a goddamn dime from my wallet."

Then I sign my name and give contact information if they want to discuss issues with me.

So far, /crickets/.

They apparently don't need my money that badly.

Posted by: Charles Ziegenfuss at June 08, 2009 10:39 AM (meX2d)

5 As a direct mail professional, let me assure you that this isn't a real survey, it is a fundraising piece. The survey is the hook to get people involved. It isn't about gathering data, it's about gathering donations. You took it seriously (as they hoped you would) but then it made you angry, understandably.
It was never intended to be any kind of serious survey.

Posted by: Amy at June 08, 2009 12:44 PM (9fDOS)


I get about 50 pieces of political direct mail a week, and most of it is just awful. Lots of sleazy fake surveys like the one you're writing about. Also lots of envelopes with 15-digit "official" sequence numbers on them, trying to make it look like it's some kind of big deal. (This was also a favorite of low-life mortgage brokers.) The message from direct mail like this, of course, is "we think you (our prospective customer/voter/contributor) are an easily-manipulated moron."

I think every industry forever bears the stamp of the era of its greatest success and growth, and in the eyes of most direct mail people (maybe Amy is an exception), it's always the 1950s, or rather some 1950s stereotype in which all the prospects are yokels, easily taken advantage of by the slick operators from the big city.


Posted by: david foster at June 08, 2009 03:53 PM (SpkYG)

7 I don't do THAT kind of direct mail, more like official correspondence from companies, statements, things like that, along with other types of print/marketing materials. Nothing political for me. But I am aware from industry publications and the like that this is a predictable way to get people to open the piece, read it, get drawn in to answering the 'questions' and then hopefully donate.
It's definitely hokey, as are the pieces where key sentences are underlined, like the sender actually took your letter and individually emphasized key parts. Or how about the ones that look like a page torn out of a newspaper with a post it attached?
All kinds of tricks exist. What I also find interesting is that this whole direct mail approach has now moved over into the online world and they are trying to use a whole bag of tricks to get you to open emails, click on banner ads, follow links, etc.

Posted by: Amy at June 08, 2009 07:15 PM (9fDOS)

8 Sarah!  You're my new best friend! errr. wait.  maybe that's old best friend.  Anyway, the Republican party has a total inability to produce a piece of mail or information without pissing off a giant bulk of the intended audience.  I'm not quiet about that fact, and I don't think that it's inherent to the GOP.  But, when you're freaking not in control of the presidency or congress, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, one would think you'd find some better marketers. 

You want my vote? my money? my time? quit freaking spending *any* time on these pointless pieces of crap.  Did someone have a deadline and had to get something in the mail and this was the best they could do?  Seriously? It's insulting. 

Run for office.  Or don't, really - why would you want that?  Be the man behind the man and let's change these idots who think they can keep pulling the same crud again and again.  I'm forwarding your post to my congressmen.  And to the people who've suddenly placed me on their rediculous email campaign.  I'll likely get a crap form-letter response, but hey, it's worth a shot. 

Posted by: Lane at June 08, 2009 10:34 PM (5Uhc4)

9 Groan!

Posted by: Lucy at June 11, 2009 12:07 AM (0nTD7)

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