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Political Emails: WHY Do People Forward This Stuff?

It’s difficult to be heard above all the “noise” when trying to get out information discovered about what’s happening in government. One big part of “the noise” is a whole lot of email. Obviously, there are many types of email; what I’m referencing here is of a very particular kind. It’s associated with the explosion in political activism that began with the tea party movement in February 2009. While email marketing in the political arena necessitates its own article, for the moment, I’m going to stick only with the messages that individuals send out to their friends, family, acquaintances, and others who they apparently think agree with them politically. Unbelievably in some cases, the recipients are their entire address book.

After two years of running a group and receiving the same kinds of messages over and over and over again, it appears addressing the issue would at minimum, provide me with the opportunity to vent. What I need to vent about, specifically are messages that are absurd, conspiratorial absent any supporting facts, that are ridiculously partisan, and those that actually result in blunting substantive efforts to bring about the very thing the majority of these people signaled in some way or other, that they actually want.

I’m going to be pulling out some of the messages I’ve received and address them, one by one. Perhaps, the exercise will provide more than an outlet for my venting. If nothing else, I’ll have provided myself with some handy cut and paste responses. But maybe, just maybe, one of my dissections of one of these messages will constitute something helpful enough to others that it is truly forward-worthy. Note that I am setting a very high standard for myself here, I don’t hit that forward button very often.

What a convenient segue: the “noise” emails I’m referencing are almost always the results of forwarding. Quite often, the same people who are addicted to the “forward” button in their email program send several such gems per day.

Of course, among the many forwards I receive, I’m used to receiving my share of cute pet and baby pictures with clever sayings (some are political, some not). If there is a cute pet or baby email that has circulated online, I’ve likely seen it twice. Don’t get me wrong, cute pets are fun and I adore cute babies. When I have a bit of spare time, however, I’d rather pet one of my real-live dogs or talk with one of my teenagers (and remember what they looked like as cute babies).

Pet and kid pics aside, I have actually been disturbed by the fact that way too many Americans really will believe almost anything they see on their computer screen, and often follow directions included, if it is speaking to their biases, preconceived notions, general philosophy or coming from someone who says they’re on the same team.

Of course 98% of the email I receive comes from people who are opposed to big government, however they might define it. Beyond that, a good many of these folks have purposefully attended some kind of conference, seminar, or study group about the Constitution and/or limited government and follow news on at least a semi-regular basis.

I now cease to be surprised regarding what is sent, however, and I’m just left wondering what, if anything can be done about it. I think of the time people are putting into reading and sending this stuff and wonder how it might be put to better use.

I have received the email, below, twice in the past few weeks. I would label this one “How to contradict your own stated philosophy and totally obscure your own point”. Honestly, on this one, I’ve wondered if some big-government liberal type put this one together and sent it to a bunch of tea partiers to see how many would take the bait…

“We’re BROKE AMERICAN’S!!

We’re “broke” & can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans,Homeless etc………..

In the last months we have provided aid to Haiti , Chile , and Turkey .

Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid or get any breaks while our government and religious organizations pour Hundreds of Millions of $$$$$’s and Tons of Food into Foreign Countries!

We have hundreds of adoptable children who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans.

USA, a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without ‘needed’ meds, and mentally ill without treatment – etc,etc…

YET……………….

They give money to 150 nations in the world and to the United Nations.

Imagine if the *GOVERNMENT* gave ‘us’ the same support they give to other countries.

Sad isn’t it?

99% of people won’t have the guts to forward this.

I Just Did”

Wow! Where DO I start?

We’re BROKE AMERICAN’S!!

Ok – fair enough. With a $14 trillion stated deficit and 100+ trillion in unfunded obligations, this is indeed, accurate. (I am trying to ignore the typo that persisted through multiple forwards. I said I was trying.)

We’re “broke” & can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans,Homeless etc………..

Excuse me?

We don’t help our Seniors?

It’s called Social Security and Medicare, including prescription drug coverage. That $100+ trillion in unfunded obligations includes these programs. Are they good programs? No. Would a lot of seniors have more money now if they had invested in their own retirement? Yes.

Veterans

We could do a much better job with their medical care. And they don’t get paid nearly enough for what they do, particularly if they serve in combat. But, besides that, there are many benefits provided. Some of them, like the mortgage benefit, can literally last a lifetime.  There are also a lot of programs aimed at doing things for soldiers and families through many, many private groups.

Orphans

I thought there was a shortage of adoptable babies. Yes, we do have a lot of children in foster care, which is a real can of worms that I’m not going to get into right now. I don’t see a lot of orphans roaming the streets of America, however.

Homeless

Why do we have homeless? While I don’t agree with a good amount of the spin in this Wikipedia article, it does provide some good background regarding the history of homelessness in America. There was a marked uptick in the number of homeless people following policy changes regarding how mentally ill individuals were handled and treated, and of course, there is a correlation between substance abuse and homelessness. Aren’t there myriad efforts to help the homeless, both public and private? (Here’s just one example from my local newspaper.)

In the last months we have provided aid to Haiti , Chile , and Turkey .

I have a sneaking suspicion, this might be the actual point of the email, but it is oh-so-difficult-to-determine. If it is, WHERE IS the supporting information?

Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid or get any breaks while our government and religious organizations pour Hundreds of Millions of $$$$$’s and Tons of Food into Foreign Countries!

Again…seniors? No aid? Breaks?…ever heard of senior discounts? Again, if too much foreign aid by government is the point, why tear down religious organizations for doing it? Don’t we want to promote PRIVATE charity? Is the point of this email about how government spends its money or how money is spent in general? I can’t quite figure this out, either.

We have hundreds of adoptable children who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans.

Actually, I believe there are many thousands of adoptable children, but there are not as many infants as parents who wish to adopt them.  It turns out that the number of foreign adoptions has drastically dropped due to an international agreement in 2008. The largest number of adoptable children are in the foster care system, and is that not caused by a variety of social factors? Is the lack of adoption of these children caused by the failure of government intervention? It’s a challenge to adopt older children, so is it any wonder they are harder to place?

USA, a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without ‘needed’ meds, and mentally ill without treatment – etc,etc…

Is it lack of government programs that has caused ANY of these problems? Lack of concern?

ARE the mentally ill going without treatment?

WHERE are the statistics to back up any of this?

Hungry children? Ever heard of the reduced-price and free breakfast and lunch programs delivered at the schools (not to mention that some schools now serve dinner)? In addition to school lunches, there is food stamps and WIC. Beyond that, there is a program that sends backpacks of food home on weekends that run by local food banks and from what I can discover, is funded locally with private dollars. There is even a video about this program.

YET……………….

They give money to 150 nations in the world and to the United Nations.

Too much foreign aid and membership in the United Nations has been poor policy, it’s true. But once again, was THIS email the way to make the point?

Imagine if the *GOVERNMENT* gave ‘us’ the same support they give to other countries.

I don’t want the government to give “us” anything; through some of the information I’ve provided, it seems fairly clear that we don’t have to “imagine” government giving to “us” at all. It’s giving, giving, giving, and giving. And that brings me to another point; the government does not just “give”. In order to give, it has to take from someone else. All of this giving, however is not  government’s job. For a refresher, please see Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Sad isn’t it?

Yes, but not for the reason the author or forwarder thinks.

99% of people won’t have the guts to forward this.

This is not a question of guts, it’s a question of good sense.

I Just Did”

Yes! I’m well aware…otherwise…how could I have received it?

On the next round, I’m going to tackle my all-time favorite…the petition appeal along the lines of… “Go sign this petition now! The country depends upon it!”

6 thoughts on “Political Emails: WHY Do People Forward This Stuff?”

  1. I like the way you pick the main article apart.Could not agree more with most of what you say.I give you this answer to Why do people forward this stuff. Occasionally
    I pick a political message and forward it just to see how much controversy I can stir- up. Pro or Con it makes people think.

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