Although I’ve always followed politics pretty closely, I never chose to donate to any political campaigns in the past. I always had better things to do with my money and figured $50 or $100 from me wouldn’t make much difference in the scheme of things.
But this year I had a change of heart. There were two campaigns I felt pretty strongly about – one federal and one statewide — and I decided to make a small donation to support the candidates. Both campaigns had online portals to make the donations so sending them some of my money was a breeze. I congratulated myself for putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and supporting candidates I cared about.
And then it started.
First there were the emails. So. Many. Emails. Each of the campaigns started emailing me daily asking for more money.
“Rose, we just need $10,000 more to meet our goal this month – can you support us with even a small contribution of $1,000? It’s $900 more than you gave me last week, but just click this link and we’ll charge your credit card.”
“We need your donation today – all donations made by midnight will be matched by an anonymous donor. If you make your donation at 12:05 the anonymous donor will tell us to go to hell.”
Even the emails that were ostensibly campaign updates were full of increasingly urgent pleas for money. There was always a goal that had to be met and it had to be met TODAY. I ignored them all. When they continued to bombard me with emails, I requested to unsubscribe from their lists. When that didn’t work, I blocked the emails so they would stop clogging up my email.
Then the calls and texts started. Clearly one or both of the candidates I had supported had sold my information to every party-affiliated candidate in the state – and around the country too.
“Hi Rose, I’m Jane Doe, I’m running for dog catcher here in Oregon and I need your support.”
“It’s more important than ever that the commissioner for soil conservation in our state be from our political party. It’s crucial that you offer your support with a gift today. Don’t let my opponent ruin your soil.”
“It’s so important that you support me in the South Carolina congressional race. You don’t know who I am and you can’t vote for me, and you’ve never even been to South Carolina, but you can send me money to defeat my opponent – another candidate you’ve never heard of.”
As primary date approached in my state, the calls and texts ramped up. Most of the candidates I had never even heard of – and none of them had been given permission to contact me.
Today, one day before our state’s primary election, I received a dozen texts and seven calls from candidates, starting at 7:00 in the morning. I don’t even text my family that early in the morning but clearly the candidates have no such concern.
Here’s a helpful hint: if you want me to like and support you, don’t wake me up an hour before my alarm is supposed to go off. I’m really not a nice person before I’ve had my first cup of coffee, just ask my roommate.
“Rose did you know that primary date is May 19th? You may have missed this, what with the ballot coming in the mail and the non-stop election coverage. Be sure to send in your ballot, and vote for John Doe for the head street sweeper.”
“Hi Rose, this is Jane Doe. I’m allegedly an elected judge in rural Mississippi but I care deeply about who’s on the school board over there in Portland Oregon. Sure, I probably can’t even pronounce Oregon correctly, but I care a lot about it, so please support my good friend John.”
“Hi Rose, I haven’t heard from you lately, probably because we’ve never met, and you have no idea who I am, but you should totally listen to my advice. Your support of John Doe for the wastewater board is more important than ever. Please be sure to send your ballot in.”
“This is your mayoral candidate Jane Doe. I know every other mayoral candidate has also texted you in the last hour, but you should vote for me, not them. They suck. Municipal elections in Oregon are non-partisan, but you should vote party lines anyway. I know that some of other candidates are in my party too, but I’m more party-aligned than them so pick me.”
Blocking the numbers, sending them increasingly irate texts telling them to stop bothering me, nothing has worked. Some of them even have the gall to write back to my “leave me alone you don’t have permission to contact me” messages with responses like, “I’m sorry to hear that you don’t care about the future of our state. Can you confirm if you’ve dropped off your ballot?”
I’m not making this up.
For the record, it’s none of your damn business whether I voted or not, Ms. Random Stranger. I’m trying to work over here, and I need my phone to connect with my coworkers, not with you. What part of “leave me alone” isn’t clear?
The only silver lining in this COVID pandemic is I’m pretty sure these people would be pounding on my door all day too if they weren’t afraid I’d breathe on them. I wish someone would invent something that’s the texting equivalent of slamming the landline phone in someone’s ear. I would pay good money for that.
One thing I’ll never pay good money for again? Support of a political candidate.