After the 2012 election (in which I co-sponsored a fund-raiser for Obama), I decided that I would no longer contribute to political campaigns. I had (in 2012) given somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500 to a variety of candidates and to my state’s Democratic Party. My decision was based on three thoughts:
1. Just as a “rational” voter realizes that her single vote can’t possibly make any difference, the rationalist in me thought that my piddling $2500 (doled out in contributions of $200 or less to various campaigns) could hardly have any real impact. So it seemed pointless to spend my money that way. Instead, I decided, I would give the money that would go to politicians to various local charities whose work I admired and wanted to support.
I did break this rule by being brought in as a co-sponsor of a fund-raiser for Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor in North Carolina this year. That has been the one exception.
2. Given that there is way too much money in politics–and that the cost of campaigns just continues to escalate in relation to the ferocity of the efforts to raise money for that purpose–it seemed like a refusal to be a party to the whole shebang was the most sensible response. I realize, of course, that my individual refusal has about as much impact as the small amounts of money that I was contributing. But if I am, perforce, in the position of making symbolic gestures, I might as well make the symbolic gesture that aligns with my principles. And I do know that my $2500 is much appreciated by, and put to a better use, by the small local charities that now get that money.
3. I am increasingly disgusted by the spectacle that is the modern political campaign in this country. In particular–and surely I am not the only person who feels this way–I am put off by the 18 emails a day I get from the Democrats, and Move On, and Emily’s List, and so on. I don’t watch TV, so I can’t be disgusted by the ads that my money pays for. I do believe in the “ground game,” in GOTV efforts and the like (and have done some volunteering in such efforts, if–most likely–not enough), and am more comfortable when I think of my contributions as underwriting such efforts. But the hysteria of the daily emails is off-putting. I guess data proves they are the most effective way to raise money. But for someone like me–and surely I am not alone in this–an appeal two or three times a year, accompanied with the promise to leave me alone after I have responded to that appeal, is much more likely to get my support. The daily emails have just made me dig in my heels. I won’t be bludgeoned into giving.
But–and this is actually the more important point–the whole process has led me to hate politics–and to dream of extricating myself from my obsession with it and even my deeply felt convictions about it. So that’s the topic I really want to explore–and will do so in my posts over the next week or so. This post is just a preface.