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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!”

A Real Grassroots Alternative & Objective for Tea Party: Summary

Updated:

I am in the process of rewriting this summary. I was mistaken in my idea that there was a consensus on the next round, or at least I underestimated how much the “national coalition” would fall apart.

A consensus seems to have developed regarding when the next Tea Party event should be held: July 4.  In addition to this post, which summarizes the reasons for a grassroots alternative to the present structure, I have proposed an objective going forward. This is a summary of both. The full text of the objective can be found here.

Proposal:

Consider a real grassroots alternative for the Tea Party “movement”

 

We the people of the grassroots need to provide an alternative to the top-down entities who appointed themselves sponsors and whose agendas and motives are at best, unclear.

For any who may be angered about why I should say such a blasphemous thing, know that it is no easy thing to risk voicing criticism at this stage, not only considering the number of Americans waking up to the problems  we are facing,  but also to risk the potential backlash from my fellow Tea Partiers, and providing fodder for the vicious Left, who don’ t need anymore ammunition.

The consequences of mismanagement, fragmentation, and lack of effectiveness at this point are dire enough that it is time to speak out.

If we want to re-tether ourselves to Constitutional principles as a nation, then that means we want the power to come from the bottom up, not the top down.

If we cannot abide by or implement those principles in the way we conduct ourselves in an effort to rally our fellow countrymen against an ever more powerful government, do we have any real business leading the charge?

The first round of Tea Party event was Feb. 27th, the impetus for which was Rick Santelli’s “rant” on the CNBC morning show “SquawkBox” on Feb. 19 wherein he said he was going to have a Tea Party on July 4 on Lake Michigan in protest of the mortgage rescue plan and all of the bailouts.

Essentially two little “seeds” germinated the day of Santelli’s rant; American Spectator’s J.P. Freire decided to have a Tea Party at NOON EST in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Feb. 27th while CPAC was in session and a couple of very feisty Twitter users began to Tweet like crazy trying to rally everyone who would listen to do something about putting on Tea Parties.

What happened next is partly unclear, but by mid-afternoon on Friday, TCOT’s Michael P. Leahy scheduled a conference call for anyone who was interested in a “CNBC Reporter Tea Party Event”.  There were approximately a dozen people on the call. Everyone present either agreed to put on a Tea Party or help with effort nationally.

Those efforts grew over the course of six days into 40+ cities with 15,000 – 20,000 participants. A handful of volunteers on the national level and one to three people in each of those cities pulled off a near miracle. They worked extremely hard, showing leadership. Included in that effort was the setup of a NING site for each of the fifty states, to provide a launching pad for organizing the Tea Party events and to lay a foundation for a network in each state.

Although the Feb. 27 events didn’t receive widespread “main stream media” coverage nationally, the phenomenon ultimately went viral.

But even before that began happening, the hi-jacking effort was in full swing. Don’t Go’s Eric Odom, who was not a major player in the events leading up to Feb. 27, put up the taxdayteaparty.com website live by 2:30PM CST on Feb. 28. TCOT’s Leahy by all indications was not aware of this until after it occurred.

By Monday, March 2, Odom and Leahy had somehow come to “terms” and had decided to roll-in another, even newer online entity, Smart Girl Politics. On that evening’s conference call which was supposed to be primarily evaluative in nature and a discussion of next steps, was in reality a top-down call that consisted of announcements of the next steps, themes, “sponsors”, and instruction to forward all contact information collected by local event organizers into TCOT to be shared among the three groups.

Leahy defined success for the next national event day of April 15 this way:

“more people, more email addresses”

He noted the theme:

“Repeal the Pork, Cut Taxes”

How would the collection of email addresses Repeal the Pork or cut taxes?

Obviously, it won’t. What it could do, however, is provide a ready-made database for any variety of purposes including building new organizations, sending fund raising appeals, or for a major political campaign.

The March 2 had contentious moments. Leahy became what can only be described as irritated when questioned by late comers to the call about the selection of another weekday for another Tea Party event.

Besides the irritation, Leahy reminded callers on the line several times that the conference was being broadcast live on two Blog Talk Radio shows. (You can listen to the Grizzly Groundswell verion here.)

He also deflected particular questions, noting that discussions on those issues would occur “offline”. Most of those offline calls never took place.

A number of others did, however. For the next several days I and several other people across the country received calls from organizers who were not happy about the top-down nature of the call, and questioned the motive behind the instruction to  forward email lists. Most expressed a desire to “do something” about the situation. None wanted to lose the momentum coming out of their events.

Ultimately, some decided not to participate in any future conference calls with more dropping out when fund raising efforts began. To the best of my knowledge, it never went to any of the Tea party coordinators.

In other words, many organizing Tea Party events simply went their own way and a golden opportunity to form a truly grassroots effort with a cohesive message and effective objective was lost.

Unfortunately, the “walk-away message” from Tax Day Tea Party, from most media outlets, even including Fox News Channel, was that the events were tax revolts. The overwhelming majority further painted the events as Republican party, Newt Gingrich, Freedom Works orchestrated tax protests.

And unfortunately, both the truth of the situation and decisions by local organizers about speakers played directly into these characterizations. It is a fact that there has been very curious involvement by Freedom Works from the national level.  I was personally contacted by a man in their Washington, D.C. office, a fellow Nebraskan by Dick Armey himself. People with connections to Newt Gingrich also contacted organizers. And former Speaker Gingrich himself was at one point names “official spokesmen” for the Tea Party movement.

The best thing to come out of the whole movement would be the establishment of truly grassroots local networks.  That assumes, in the absence of effective leadership from the national “coalition” or consistent communications with other organizers a recognition of that fact and a plan for best doing so by each coordinator in each locality.  Considering that they had no guidance on this issue at all, and no good example of what should be avoided, it is difficult, at best to believe that these efforts to be effective over the long term are widespread.

The simple facts are these:

  • In general, our country has come untethered from its Constitutional basis.
  • Government is out of control, at all levels.
  • Unsustainable, reckless spending, borrowing, and printing of money seriously threatens to collapse the value of our currency.
  • A plethora of proposed legislation threatens individual liberty.
  • A serious world-wide drive towards a one-world currency permanently threatens the sovereignty of the United States.
  • The majority of the media doesn’t investigate or report fully on events or people. As a result we are under-informed about who represents us, who is running for office, and the actions taken by government.

Beyond PR concerns, and the specific issues surrounding the Republican Party, it begs the question, once again, if we have even a small amount of understanding in regards to how serious are problems are, why are we not re-examining the way we do EVERYTHING?