I am a Liberal Democrat.
I currently get about 20 emails a day asking me to contribute to a campaign or to the party coffers for some good Democratic cause or other. I support almost all of these causes, but I’ll never give them another dollar. I will unsubscribe to all 20 of today’s emails today or tomorrow. As soon as I have time.
Why? Am I a fervent advocate of reforming campaign corruption? Do I harbor a passionate, idealistic need to change the system and alter how politics is funded?
It turns out, I am a fervent advocate of campaign corruption reform and I do harbor a passionate need to reform political funding, but that’s not the reason. I’m also poor, but even that isn’t the reason.
In 2008, I donated three dollars to Barack Obama. I was pleased when he got elected. I donated a few more dollar in 2012. As a thank you, I got spammed.
Every Democrat running for any office in any American state, as well as every liberal group with a cause, sent me thousands of emails several times each week and sometimes, per day. It might have been even more, but somewhere along the way, I lost track. So we’ll just call it a mountain of mail.
All of them told me in some wildly hysterical way that some candidate I’d like to see elected was missing a mere $320 for the month and a few dollars from me might make the difference. They started out by asking me to sign a petition, after which, they wanted money. A little money but I could send more and I could set it up to come out of my account automatically every month. And that was just the beginning.
Every other minute, there was a new cause as well as a few hundred more emails. It reached an insane crescendo and I spent entire days deleting everything without even trying to see what it was. One day, I spent an entire day, morning to evening, unsubscribing. The incoming mail dropped to a bearable level. For a day. And then it began to rebuild.
Every time I considered signing a petition or read an online post, I was automatically — without being notified or offering my permission — was subscribed to the site and mailing lists. I was a piece of data. Being mined.
I don’t care how good the cause is. That’s wrong. And it’s spam. They succeeded in making me unwilling to ever give them any money ever. I do not answer surveys. Nor do I fill out petitions, no matter how much I sympathize with its cause.
The Democratic Party — all political parties, their candidates and causes (I actually found myself on the Conservative Republican mailing list because I read an article somewhere and they also signed me up) — are on my “not one red cent” list. Because a $3 dollar donation got me spammed. I was buried under electronic propaganda.
Know that if you are naive enough to provide your phone number on a petition or survey, expect never-ending intrusive phone calls. I think if they want my opinion, they can pay for it.
The political funding system needs reformation. Equally in need of reform is the way all political groups feel free to use your personal information for their own purposes.
They will subscribe you to their mailing and calling lists because you tried to read their literature. Which, in theory, is what they want you to do. Participating in politics — trying to be a good citizen — will get you bombarded with propaganda until you declare a plague on all their houses.
It’s not okay. Really, it’s not. It’s intrusive and sneaky. It is a massive abuse of my right to privacy. I did not agree to let everyone in the world use my personal data for their own goals.
Visiting a web site does not imply permission to invade my privacy. I do not know how other people handle this sort of thing, but it means that I will never donate a penny to anyone running for office — or in support of any of their causes. Ever.
They — both parties, all parties, all the pols — have done it to themselves. Before pointing fingers at “the system,” they need to admit that they are the system. They are the abusers. While they are busy investigating Google, Facebook, and Twitter, they might take a look in the mirror and consider how they are doing the same thing. That it might be for a better cause — in my opinion — is neither here nor there.
I am not a piece of data and I do not want to be mined. Don’t put my name or my phone number or my personal preferences on your database. Don’t bury me in emails or phone calls.