Give Don’t Worry About Why

There are so many emails asking for donations, so that the donor will help elect—progressives in my case—but the general election for Congressional and state seats is not until next November (not this November), and the donation is urgent, because of the Xth police killing, or the most recent outrage, or the Rep’s or Dem’s (depending on your email stream) outrageous bill, act, appearance, which is why you must give to us NOW.

During the past election cycle, there was a much clearer reason for donations: the urgency of defeating the other side.

Now there are, regrettably, so many PAC’s raising money in small internet pools, with a Red or Blue flavor. They have to grasp at current issues and outrages as reasons to give, so they can—fill in the blanks, do something—in the future.

Really, PAC world, you gotta come up with better answers to the question: ’Why I should give money to you, or your cause, and what are you going to do with this money?  Have a campaign bash, buy TV ads, hire regional staff?

PAC’s are organized around virtually any issue, but they’re not pushing those issues, when they’re using a current scandal to raise money. So, you must give NOW, so that your progressive (or conservative) Congressperson/Senator/Governor, etc. votes the right way to solve the issue, whatever it is. Or is thrown out if he/she doesn’t do as demanded, but using current issues, especially, the first response to their respective constituents, is damnation to the wrong-doers and then seek donations from their supporters: that’s what they’re there for.

The most twisted approach is to cite the outrage committed by the other side (whether it’s Government/or opposition) and then propose donations to elect Congresspeople, or Senators, to prevent the outrage from continuing, even if the next election is more than a year off, and its result more than two years distant.

Now, there appears to be an urgency built into the whole system of fundraising that may justify the PAC’s approach. Republicans have used their side’s polarization and extremism, kept at fever pitch by the beaten but defiant DJT, to raise huge amounts of campaign cash.

It may be true that the progressive side has to ramp up funds and organizing to counter the GOP strategy.

My argument with the strategy: it justifies massive fundraising and suggests that the issue at hand will be solved, once the fundraiser raises enough money to counter the aggressive tactics of the other side. Logically, there is a disconnect between the outrages perpetrated by the other side right now, and counting on ‘flipping’ red seats or blue seats in an election more than a year away.

Democrats appear to be at a disadvantage in this contest. The GOP can easily raise millions of dollars from a (relatively) few funders: wealthy people, billionaires and corporations. Democrats need to mount a long, tiring effort to raise competing funds from millions of not-wealthy donors like me. The small donations we can afford don’t go anywhere near the hundreds of millions easily gathered up in large fancy fundraisers.

The other disadvantages Democrats face: highly gerrymandered states and districts controlled by Republicans, and their state legislatures that (so far) appear able to pass voter suppression laws to prevent Democratic voters (Blacks, Latinx, immigrants, other ethnic minorities and the poor) from voting.

The likely result of a GOP success: elections and seats won by a minority of votes: it’s how Trump, GW Bush and HW Bush all got elected, carrying the Electoral College with fewer votes than cast for Democrats and fewer votes in states, controlled by GOP minorities successfully carrying out voter suppression of potential majorities against them.

Doesn’t look like Democracy to me.

Is there a solution? One that expands voting rights and citizen participation in their governance? The closest we’ve come, so far, is HR1/S1, a sweeping election reform bill that would ban gerrymandering and other voter suppression rules, while making it easier for people to vote: to register and to vote and for your vote to count. 

Even in my CD in NY, it was consciously drawn to be a Republican district. Our Black Democratic Congressman (Delgado) was able to overcome the gerrymander only because the District had changed enough that it is now a “swing” district.

GOP fundraisers will urgently fundraise against HR1/S1 as an existential threat to their ability to win elections with fewer votes, their ability in gerrymandering to select their voters and reject those, like Blacks and Latinx, who can be expected to vote for Democrats, instead.       

The problem is: the GOP can block S1’s passing with a simple filibuster, and there is very little likelihood that any Republican Senator would vote for it, let alone the 10 needed to overcome the filibuster.

It’s true that the filibuster was used historically to maintain segregation and racial exclusion from power, which is why there is only one solution to this problem: abolish the filibuster, or its use in bills like S1. The exception would be if there were some way, like the Reconciliation process, to overcome it. But voting is not a budgetary issue; it’s a political one. 

Whether the ruling Democrats can abolish the filibuster this session, or not, will determine whether we maintain a democratic system, or are stuck with a white supremacist system, instead.                                                                                         

Published by douglascsmyth

Writer, gardener, former political science and economics professor, free-lance writer, 81-years old, married to Elizabeth Cunningham, father of Darshann, Julian and Marina. I live on the western slope of the Shawangunk ridge, NY, in a house powered largely by solar and heated and cooled by it. Associated with High Valley, Clinton Corners, until 2014.

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