The Democratic party isn't resting on its laurels. As the majority celebrates its passage of the health care reform bill, I've received two copies of the same survey from the Democratic National Committee in as many days. Tim Kaine informs me that the President "has been able to accomplish a great deal during his first year in office," but underlines the looming fact that "the President faces major challenges in the coming months. The Republicans and their special interest allies are doing everything possible to block his initiatives." These initiatives include clean energy policy, economic rebuilding, and "improving the security of our nation from the threat of terrorism." Republicans are blocking that, too? Damn.
Anyway, the Obama Administration needs my help. Governor Kaine says that I should give something between $25 and $50 to the DNC. Just as important, apparently, is my filling out an enclosed survey. That's strange, given it's just the sort of survey you'd expect to come attached to a begging letter. However, it's special if I fill it out. That's because, little did I know, I'm "part of a select group of leaders who have been chosen to participate in this survey." But the governor flatters me. He doesn't even know me as the author of this blog, but rather, most likely, as a subscriber to The Nation.
It reads as if I'm being invited to help set the President's priorities. After ranking his performance overall and in six categories (economy, health insurance, energy, diplomacy, Afghanistan, Iraq), I'm to rank "14 national issues" in my preferred order of priority. There's some redundancy here, since my choices include "America's Economic Situation" and "Lowering Unemployment." Apparently some respondents will think these issues can be prioritized separately. Then I'm asked to rank the institutional priorities of the Democratic party, with "Organizing Grassroots Support," "Raising Funds for 2010 Congressional Elections," "Electing Democrats on the State and Local Level," "Reelecting President Obama in 2012" and "Combating Republicans' Obstructionist Tactics" to choose from. Finally, I'm given four lines on which to write down my thoughts on "President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the issues our nation is facing." The party doesn't expect much thought, apparently, or else it expects pretty small handwriting.
Should I be flattered by the invitation, as a "leader," to offer my suggestions to the President and his party. I might have been, had I never, ever received a partisan begging letter before, and if this time Kaine hadn't written, "We want to make certain that key leaders such as you have the opportunity to show your support of the President and his initiatives. This will allow us to demonstrate widespread support for President Obama's agenda."
To be honest, I don't know if Kaine means the money or the survey in that last bit, but I'd bet on both. This survey is, after all, just another poll of predictable respondents, guaranteed to show overwhelming widespread support for President Obama's agenda. Only, whom do they hope to convince with this evidence? Has anyone ever seen a news report of results from polls like these? More likely, Democratic leaders (not including me) use these things to convince themselves (if not the President himself) of widespread support for their agenda of the moment, just as Republicans use their own fundraising surveys. Most likely, however, the party keeps the money and trashes the poll. They could save some money (and some extra fundraising) by skipping the poll part of these mailings altogether, -- and they might earn some extra respect, at least, from people who don't have their intelligence insulted.