Atlanta, GA, - Spam. Either in phone message, email, text, or supposedly edible form, the vast majority of sensible people would rather spend a day, (or at least five minutes) in purgatory than ever see the stuff again. However, always a glutton for punishment, early on in 2015, as a sort of social experiment I gave my email address to every single presidential campaign, as well as both major political parties, and sat back to watch what would happen.
In the time since then, through a never-ending series of emails that would often number well over twenty a day, I was asked by the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee for money; as well as Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Martin O’Malley, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, (somehow Paul Ryan and Trey Gawdy) etc. etc.
Most of the tactics were quite straightforward; Hillary Clinton would drop a line every few days asking for one dollar. Occasionally I will get one from her campaign that is ostensibly nothing more than a reminder where and when Hillary will make her next appearance on the silver screen, but there is always a button at the bottom of the email reminding me that if I CLICK HERE, I could instantly relieve my conscience by helping women, minorities, and Democrats everywhere by giving Mrs. Clinton one of my Georges.
Other campaigns have been more devious, Ted Cruz using some of the most questionable tactics of all. He has sent more than one email out saying that he will drop out if he doesn’t get amount X by the deadline. Of course, if I were his supporter, I would be expected to panic and then empty my cyber pockets into his cyber hat in an effort to keep him in the race. Just a couple of days ago, I received an email from him that sounded like the apocalypse had happened. I was told that Bush and Rubio are outspending him in Iowa, and that he needed the money now!!!!!! If he was to even survive to Iowa. (Yes, there were that many exclamation points.)
Marco Rubio often relies on guilt shaming, sending me emails from local GOP leaders that support him, asking why I haven’t given any money yet. Right at the turn of the New Year I received an email asking if I would give Rubio any money in 2016, with two huge buttons saying “YES” and “NO.” I suppose I could have pressed one or the other, sort of like a “choose your own adventure” book, but instead I deleted the email.
After Walker dropped out of the race, I received at least three emails from his campaign entitled “What now?” And while they didn’t explicitly ask for money, each of the three, (which were exactly identical and sent over a period of about a month) seemed to make it clear that Walker wanted me to pay off his campaign debt. Jindal was more open, pointedly asking for money after he had already announced an end to his candidacy, to help defray the costs already incurred.
Sometimes there is some fun, like the contests held by Rubio before each debate for two lucky supporters to attend the scream fests. Ben Carson raffled off breakfast with himself, (imagine how boring, if educational, that would have been) and Hillary had at least two contests for dinner with her and Bill, and another for an all-expenses paid trip to her Christmas party in New York. I didn’t win any of them, but I imagine it would have been the greatest time of my life, to sit across from the former secretary of state and tell her I’m not even voting for anybody at this point, and I actually signed myself up as a “dedicated supporter” of hers for the fun of it. The most interesting competition by far was Senator Cruz’, in which he gave away a personalized shotgun to one of his supporters selected at random. I hope the gun is legal in whatever state the winner lives.
It is always entertaining to hear each and every candidate proclaim themselves the winner of each debate, and even to quote news articles saying that they had a strong performance. (Somehow, all of them find a few to back up their narrative.) Also, all of them always seem to be leading in the polls according to their emails, or, as Rand Paul’s campaign often puts it, they are “about to have a surge.”
Sometimes their emails are can be funny, such as the time Huckabee sent a video claiming that cars with his bumper sticker on them got better gas mileage. Sometimes they can be serious discussions of policy, such as ones Rubio often sends out. Others feel like the candidate is heading some Ponzi-scheme or pyramid “multi-level-marketing” strategy, with emails asking for money and instructing me to forward it to five of my friends. (I don’t.) Occasionally, their pitches are actually well thought out, giving fresh, hopeful looks at politics; so good in fact, that one can see how some readers might really be tempted to turn some more of their hard earned dollars over to government officials, and even smile about it.
None of the videos, emails, links, jokes, articles, or speeches have worked yet on me, however, as not a single shiner has gone from my fists to theirs.
Of course, even the best candidate’s campaign has to have money, and maybe even Trump’s campaign will someday ask for some. Not all of the candidates have deep pockets or “sugar daddies” that can bankroll them eternally, so they must rely on we, the people, to give them the green.
I’ve learned quite a bit being spammed over the past year; Cruz can be a scare-monger, Carson’s emails sound like reading a medical journal, and Rand Paul seems to think he’s one of the founding fathers, signing off “In Liberty, Rand Paul.” But the email that stood out to me the most was the time I got one from Rick Perry’s campaign asking for funds because they were “doing well” in the polls and wanted to “keep the momentum rolling.” The funny thing was, due to some computer mix-up, the email must have been sent late, because Mr. Perry had dropped out of the race about an hour before I got it.
Andrew C. Abbott