Something quite extraordinary happened to me in the dying days of 2019. While I was emailing friends I suddenly received an email from … Nancy Pelosi. I thought it was a spoof or a scam, but, being a nosy old cow, I opened the email anyway, and was amazed: she asked me to ‘renew my membership’ and to donate, with these words:
“Viv, frankly I’m insulted. – 2O2O is 72 hours away, and Trump shows no signs of stopping his attacks, his insults toward me, and his blatant corruption. – Trump’s Republican cronies have joined him on the road, attacking my Democrats in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida — all while raking in MILLIONS from their best Republican supporters. – Now more than ever, my Majority is under an attack we don’t have the resources to respond to. – That’s why I’m emailing you. I need 3O,OOO grassroots supporters to renew their 2O2O Democratic Membership before it’s too late. – Will you renew your Membership and help me reach my critical End of Year goal? – I’ll personally ensure your generous gift is triple-matched!”
Goodness gracious me – will you read that again! That’s strong stuff! And this is how to make friends and get money from me! Anyway – I’m not a member of the US Dems, so why did I get that begging email? That’s simple: they made a mistake in the email address and gmail kindly forwarded the stuff to me. Mind you, I am somewhat miffed that there’s a US citizen with my name being a Dem member! How dare they! While I was writing about this email to my American friend, another one came in – from Barbra Streisand! She wrote:
“We are at a crossroads in our country; this is the most important election of our lifetimes. We need the truth and acceptance of established facts to govern our nation. But Donald Trump has proven himself a serial liar, and his GOP acolytes repeat his propaganda. – I know our Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was absolutely critical. It was the only way to get to the bottom of Trump’s corruption and his undermining of the rule of law. – Our friends at the DCCC are up against their critical End of Year Deadline, and they need your help. – I’m counting on 28,947 more strong progressives to stand up to Trump’s corruption, protect our Democratic Majority, and chip in before their critical deadline. – Can we count on you to fight back by renewing your Democratic Membership? – I’m so committed to fighting back, Viv, I’ll personally make sure your generous gift is triple-matched.”
I was sorely tempted to send them my ‘generous gift’ of $1 … after all, 53 people seem to have already done as Ms Pelosi asked. I nearly unsubscribed, but then these emails came in thick and fast: from Ms Pelosi again, from the Dem headquarters, from people I’ve never heard of (Paul Begala? Who he?) – and their tone became more hysterical and hectoring. How dared I disregard Ms Pelosi’s pleading! She was, after all, ‘begging’ me, desperately, and telling me that we could ‘kiss everything good-bye’ if I didn’t send money. Yes, really!
The first thing that came to my mind was ‘how did they get my email address?’ and: ‘don’t they have a GDPR legislation? Is this legal?’ I asked my American friend who wrote that in her opinion this was illegal because they are not allowed to solicit money from foreign sources, although they can accept them if they report this to the US Electoral Commission.
I then asked a barrister friend here in Blighty, who told me that the US Courts would just sneer if I’d asked for an injunction because our lovely EU GDPR doesn’t apply to entities with no basis in the EU and that any fierce letters from me would be disregarded.
Yeah, I had noticed that … I had sent a very British one in reply to that Streisand email, asking them to kindly desist from sending me further solicitations – to no avail: that email was of course disregarded. The next Pelosi email came in on its heels, and the next – and then I received a few from the Dem’s headquarters as well.
As I mentioned above, it’s because they have an incorrect email address. I certainly could have ‘unsubscribed’ – this facility is provided at the bottom of those emails in the small print. Frankly though, by the time the next hysterical Pelosi emails came in I was too intrigued because they offer insight into how the US Dem election strategists are working. For example, on the 29th Dec their headquarters sent news of a poll that predicted they’d win bigly, and then, two days later, they send me this:
“These top Democrats [listing all who’ve emailed those grassroots, and no, I didn’t get one from every one of them, and no, Hilary Clinton was not on that list] all reached out this year because they are sounding the alarm, Viv. – Because ever since our Democrats impeached Donald Trump, Trump’s Republicans have made it their mission to raise millions of dollars — and use that money to swiftly defeat our Majority. – After Democratic leaders asked REPEATEDLY for help, we thought grassroots Democrats would step up. – But that hasn’t happened, Viv. – Viv: […] We desperately need your help to be on the right side of history in this critical moment.” (my emphasis)
Good grief! The grassroots didn’t step up? They didn’t want to be ‘on the right side of history’? Not even when exhorted by the likes of Pelosi? How interesting! I was also intrigued to note that their earlier ‘we’re winning’ email didn’t seem to have helped. Usually, a positive message makes people want to jump onto a winning bandwagon. Also interesting is the small scale of these Pelosi demands: soliciting 30,000 replies in a country as large as the USA, with donations starting at $1 – isn’t that, well, peanuts? Especially when Trump and the Reps are ‘raising millions’?
Altogether there were 19 emails from her and others – and now, in the New Year, she is at it again. Starting on the 2nd of January, she keeps asking me to fill in a questionnaire, to tell her what I think:
“New Year’s Day is always a time of reflection for me. – And, Viv, I spent yesterday reflecting on just how thankful I am for my grassroots supporters. Because of you, I hit my final goal of 2O19. All of your hard work is the reason why I’m convinced we will not only expand our House Majority — but we’ll win the White House as well.”
You’ll have noticed from her text that there must have been enough mutts to send her the money she’d begged, pleaded, exhorted in her desperate and hysterical emails before New Year’s day. Since I didn’t comply with her latest demand, more emails came my way.
I loved this subject line, sent by someone called Cheri Bustos (who she? No idea and not interested): “you DON’T want to take Nancy Pelosi’s survey?!” Terrible, isn’t it, that Nancy’s exhortations hadn’t worked, forcing poor old Nancy to send me yet another clutch of emails! As it’s a ‘personalised survey’ I refrained from clicking on that link.
The US Dems ‘believe that emails are crucial’ for them to stay in touch with their grassroots. Have they perhaps noticed that social media, something which Momentum and other organisations have been exploiting to their utmost, didn’t help Labour much in the GE a few weeks ago?
I hope I’ll receive more emails! They provide insights into the US Dem’s strategies as the Presidential election campaigns gather pace. I can’t help but feel that our experiences here in Blighty, during the EUParl elections and the GE just past show that social media and emails might perhaps be outdated. Certainly nothing annoys prospective supporters as much as being hectored to give money, especially when ‘political prominence’ and ‘celebrities’ are doing the bullying.
Times, it seems, have changed, and so has campaigning. It seems we might be back to the old days of hustings with personal appearances of the top candidate. A certain Mr Trump is pretty good at that … unlike that Dem candidate he defeated four years ago whose name escapes me now.
It’s going to be a very interesting year!
Photo by Ivy Dawned