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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | U.S. | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Government & Elections
Rich Parties Seek Donations From Poor and Middle Class
The Republican and Democratic Parties, both very wealthy organizations, nonetheless hound the poor and the middle class for campaign donations.
The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. --Steven Biko
I live in Oakland, in California's 9th congressional district. It is represented by Barbara Lee of “Let us not become the evil that we deplore” fame. It is heavily Democratic and is considered one of the most liberal districts in the nation. I was a Democrat for many years, a Green for about a decade, and after switching back to the Democrats to vote for Dennis Kucinich in the 2008 California Presidential Primary (two days after he dropped out of the race), I became a Decline-to-State voter. I recently registered for the California Pirate Party, a newly forming political party that stands strongly for free speech rights in the face of corporations who want to control music, art and information under the rubric of “intellectual property”. In short, I have never voted Republican and never will.
On July 30, 2011, I married a man who is as liberal as I am. He is also a California pirate; in fact, he registered for the party well before I did. In other words, the Republicans would be wasting their time trying to get our votes. The Democrats would, too. Since the U.S. Pirate Party isn't running a presidential candidate this year, we will probably vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. Then again, we might vote for Roseanne Barr. The government is a joke, so why not have a professional comedian at the top?
Neither our congressional district nor our voting records deter the Republicans from trying to sway us, however. Several years ago, I received notice that my address had been chosen to represent the congressional district for the Republican party. I was asked to fill out opinion surveys and, of course, make donations. I live in a neighborhood in what is known as the Oakland Flatlands, i.e. not up in the hills that had those devastating fires back in 1991. You are much more likely to find Republicans up there. In my mixed race, polyglot neighborhood, you are more likely to find immigrants who are not yet citizens eligible to vote than you would find Republicans. So, obviously the party, or more likely, its political research vendor, did not do the slightest research into the neighborhood. I was probably selected by lot. It figures that this would be a lottery I would win.
My husband has now gotten a couple of these survey-cum-donation-request as well. The latest has come from the Mitt Romney campaign. Mind you, we are an underemployed couple. I am a freelance writer, radio producer, editor, whatever. Much of the media on the left exists by donations, not only of money, but of producers' time and talents. I have some health issues that keep me prolonged standing or sitting and I don't type very fast. I also do not drive anymore, not that we can afford a car. My husband suffered through 13 months of unemployment without unemployment insurance. According to an article in The Huffington Post, the latest numbers show 12.7 million unemployed and 5.6 million (44%) getting benefits, compared with 13.9 million jobless and 7.3 million (52.5%) receiving aid at the same time last year. This summer he got a job with the City of Oakland Department of Parks and Recreation. He says it is the best job he has ever had. He truly enjoys it. But it is only part-time and his hours have been reduced for the winter. Fortunately, he picked up a shipping job for the holidays.
We believe in demonetization and the gift economy. We believe that health care, food, and housing are human rights, ENTITLEMENTS. Romney and Ryan seem to be saying that life is a human right. But maybe life is a human right to them only when the anti-abortion voters are listening because they are scandalized by any talk of that which makes life possible, such as health care, food, and housing, also being human rights. That talk is only logical. But then again, we are talking Republicans here. Logic is hard to come by among members of a party many of whom don't believe in evolution.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans want donations from us?! They want money from people that they put down in private when they think the cameras are off. They wouldn't bother if they knew who we really were. That's their problem, isn't it? They don't understand most Americans. Not just the 47% Romney disparaged at a private fundraiser but 99% of us, literally, even folks most would call rich, but who know the mark of a man is not the amount of money he makes or how much tax he can legally avoid.
The Democrats are not much better. I will given them this much credit: Their pleas for money come via the Internet rather than snail mail. This means they aren't killing trees to print their donation bids. But they clog my inbox with junk mail pleading, cajoling and trying to scare me into donating to their side. It won't work.
The DNC, like the RNC, is a multi-billion dollar organization. It has some rich people on its side. Moreover,the rich corporations on the Democratic side are often the same ones who give to Republicans in the same election cycle so as to be able to influence both sides and/or hedge their bets in a close race. The days of the wealthy giving their largesse to only one party are long over and why not? Both parties cater to their interests.
Which brings my back to the online and direct mail bids for donations to political campaigns: Why do the demonized poor, the shrinking middle class and the less-secure-than-they-think fairly well-off contribute to these campaigns? Neither side really cares about us. In fact, with the growing negativity of each election cycle, we really should reassess what it is we are supporting.
I've been thinking about this for a while, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the latest junk email from Guy Cecil on behalf of the Democrats:
Kellia — HUGE BREAKING NEWS: Politico just reported that today, Karl Rove’s Crossroads group will launch “their biggest paid media push of 2012”—$16 million into ten Presidential and Senate battlegrounds.
With 35 days to go, this is the Republicans’ last stand. But the fact is, this is enough money to win them the White House and Senate if we can’t respond. It is that significant.
Please rush $5 immediately. Republicans are right now – today – trying to buy the White House and Senate. We absolutely can't keep pace unless you help us raise $2 million by Friday.
This is being called “the deepest saturation from Crossroads yet.” Either we raise enough money to fend this off and win, or we don’t and Republicans flip the tables for a comeback victory.
Give $5 here to fend this off immediately >>[link]
I took out the links so as not to tempt anyone reading this.
Sorry, Guy, I need those $5 more than you do. You fat cat politicians should be ashamed of trying to get poor people to contribute to their own funeral. Consider this, voters: both sides spend an inordinate amount of time and (our) money trying to scare us about what the other side will do.
Isn't putting people in fear in order to advance political agenda the very definition of terrorism?
Please don't give aid and comfort to terrorists by contributing to Democrats or Republicans. Please vote third party or write-in wherever you can. But do vote because boycotting the election sends an ambiguous message. Was it anger or apathy that kept you away?
Kéllia Ramares-Watson, an associate editor for Intrepid Report is an independent journalist in Oakland, CA. She can be reached at theendofmoney[at]gmail.com and follow on Twitter at endofmoney.
CC 2012, Kéllia Ramares-Watson BY-NC-SA