If you respect your own voters, you don’t do this (boldface mine):
Jon Ossoff is losing! Oh, never mind, he’s winning! Actually, just give up and go home—or donate now, and take advantage of a special matching offer!
Subtract Ossoff’s name, and you could be forgiven for thinking this is a pitch from the Home Shopping Network, rather than emails produced by a congressional campaign. They reflect old marketing tactics—blitz your audience, mislead them if necessary—and they are divisive. Proponents insist that the emails, as deranged as they might seem, work. Critics argue that the tactic has a short shelf life and is deceptive.
And in an era when email has become a crucial tool in reaching voters and raising money, they raise a broader question: Is this the best way for the Democratic Party to rebuild itself?
…With Mothership Strategies consulting, the campaign launched a frenetic email fundraising drive that contributed to the race becoming the most expensive in the history of the House. Mothership was founded by DCCC veterans, and the online fundraising strategy it helped the Ossoff campaign develop is a descendant of the DCCC’s infamous 2014 strategy, which the Daily Beast described as “part fundraising pitch, part hostage note.”
The Ossoff emails warned of electoral doomsday. The subject lines often contradicted emails that had been sent earlier that day. As election day neared, the pace increased. The campaign bombarded its email list with increasingly desperate pleas for money—or psychological intervention, depending on your interpretation…
Kenneth Pennington, the former digital director of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, calls this a “churn and burn” approach that exploits voters. “A dirty secret in the email fundraising industry is that most of the people giving are senior citizens,” he told the New Republic in an email. “For a less net-savvy generation some of these emails that put you on ‘FINAL NOTICE’ are confusing and scary enough. The prospect that your donation will be quadruple-matched may also be enticing, if you really believe it.”
Pennington also believes the DCCC approach achieves short-term results at the expense of long-term strategic goals. “There’s a limited pool of Democratic small-dollar donors out there,” he said. “When the Ossoff campaign and DCCC run a churn-and-burn program like this, it sullies the pond for every other Democratic cause. When people get turned off by fundraising emails, they tune out. Not just from the bad programs, but from the good ones. Everyone from Elizabeth Warren to UNICEF is going to feel that.”
So do what Howie Klein suggests–give directly to Democrats (boldface mine):
What a shame so many sincere grassroots Democrats fall prey, not just to endemic DCCC incompetence, but to the overwhelming corruption that drives the organization and determines every decision. That link goes to an exposé from 2010 that delineates DCCC corruption and how it works… and DCCC corruption has, if anything, gotten much worse in the interim. Thursday night we looked at a real-time sale of a nomination in a very winnable Orange County seat that the DCCC is willing to write off in exchange for some fat checks from an ambitious lottery winner….
Let’s take the Ossoff race for example. One of the consulting firms the DCCC saddled him with– the kind of thing corruption organizations like them and EMILY’s List do with all their candidates [Mad Biologist: this is a serious problem]– is owned by former (and future?) DCCC staffers, Greg Berlin, Jake Lipsett, and Charles Starnes, who pocketed– as in personally pocketed– $3.9 million. Some of that was money I contributed! You too? [And] that was just one of the many DCCC-connected consulting firms on the Ossoff gravy train. You know all those dull and ineffective TV ads? The DCCC encourages that kind of garbage, not because they win elections– they don’t– but because they are commissionable and the ex/future staffers make millions off them (personally make millions, becoming very wealthy– regardless of whether a candidate wins or loses… and most– the vast majority– lose).
Solution? Never, never, never, never contribute to shady organizations like the DCCC or EMILY’s List. Always and exclusively make your contributions directly to candidates who stand for the issues you want. Chances are if the DCCC solicits money by touting popular progressive agenda items– like single payer health care, for example– whatever money doesn’t get pocketed by avaricious staffers, goes to prop up conservatives who vehemently oppose the very policies they hoodwink donors into thinking they’re advancing. When an organization with a massive overhead like the DCCC, End Citizens United or EMILY’s List encourages you to give your money to them, rather than the candidate, that money is more likely to go towards defeating what you want than to advancing what you want.
To add slightly to Klein, good people don’t pull a bait and switch.
We laugh at conservatives for being hoodwinked, but there are plenty of Democrats who let themselves be scammed. When we stop rewarding bad behavior, establishment Democrats will behave better.