Not long before Christmas, I received a survey from the Republican National Committee. It was addressed directly to me: Mrs. Kristie N. Cunningham, and I wondered how those hoodlums had gotten my address and very private middle initial that I don’t actually use anywhere.
The 4-page letter inside, from my pal Michael Steele, started thusly:
Your immediate action is required.
Please carefully read and complete the enclosed 2010 Obama Agenda Survey which is REGISTERED in your name and affixed with a tracking code to ensure that it is accounted for in the tabulated results.
As Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I am sending out this questionnaire to gauge where you and other grassroots Republicans stand on the critical issues facing our nation—I need to hear back from you right away.
You know that the liberal mediate elites and the Obama Democrats are hoping you will put this letter down right now and do nothing…
…They want you to give up, desert your Party, and walk away from your conservative principles. (sic)
My first thought was, “Boy, are they barking up the wrong tree. How the hell did I get on their mailing list, anyway?” My second thought was, “I can work this to my advantage…won’t they be surprised at what their “fellow Republican” thinks about these issues,” because the letter said that my “questionnaire answers will be used to represent a broad sampling of Republicans in your area. So please, no matter what, do not discard or destroy your Survey.” That tempted me mightily.
The good news for Michael Steele is that I did not, in fact, put the letter down right then. Rather, I read every word of it aloud for the entertainment value that could be had as Scott and I waited for our dinner to cook. I have to admit that I nearly gave up midway; I couldn’t stomach it, but Scott bade me read on. He was ever so diverted.
Beyond the pathetic urgency conveyed by random underlining, bolding, capitalizing, and other bizarre formatting choices adhering to no respected style manual on the planet, there was the fact that the text of the letter was filled with half-truths, purposeful misinterpretations, and outright lies that I cannot believe that even the Chairman of the RNC (or one of his flunkies, more probably,) would be willing to commit to paper. It was shocking; it was like talk radio in printed form. And then there were the desperate requests for cash in the amounts of “$500, $250, $100, $50, or even $30” that appeared in the letter no fewer than 4 times in the last 2 pages.
The strategy was clear: It was purely a fund-raising letter, but they hyped the necessity of compliance and the importance of the survey so that you would feel super-important, and super-important people will want to have their opinion heard, so they’ll fill out the survey, and while they’ve got the envelope open, will throw in a check. In this way, they will be participating in government as Republicans intend: if you give us money, your opinion counts. (But probably not if you give the lame-o $30…that’s weak.) Given their intended audience (myself excluded), it’s probably not a bad strategy.
They probably also coded them so as to know who the soft touches were as they updated their fund-raising mailing lists. And it gave Michael Steele the opportunity to preach hate and fear to his ovine choir, reiterating the RNC’s greatest hits and sobbing about how conservatives are so very disenfranchised. From this letter, you’d think it was Obama who was stealing elections and silencing dissent for the last 8 years.
Projection is a sad, ugly thing.
Anyway, I gave up my hope of subverting the Republican agenda with my responses to their survey when I realized that the survey questions were as twisted as the letter, and only allowed a “yes,” “no,” or “no opinion response,” which is like me asking… no…my mind isn’t warped enough to conjure up liberal example questions in the same vein. Wait! Yes it is! (Kill me now). It’s like me asking, “Do you agree that Michael Steele and Republicans everywhere wish every illegal immigrant would die a slow, torturous death in the Arizona desert? There was no option for “Some of them, for sure, but no, probably not.” Of course, that would be a shade of gray, and the Republican Party is the party of black or white, yes or no, (and mostly the latter in each of those 2 cases).
Michael Steele told me, “I want you to know that the Republican Party is not dead and we are not going away.” To which I can only say, “Damn.”