Subversively Yours

An admittedly insane lapse – donating money to a political party – leads to an apparently endless series of letters from them seeking more money.

Eighteen months ago, I lost my head: I admit it freely. I gave money to a political party. What was I thinking?

Dear New Contributor:
We greatly appreciate your contribution to our just cause. We promise not to hound you for more money. Of course, if you could see your way clear to making even a small additional payment, perhaps doubling what you’ve already sent, we’d be ever so grateful.
Respectfully yours, Your Political Party

I can’t reconstruct my reasoning process, if reason even entered into it. Was I unusually annoyed with the snippiness of the other parties? Was I seduced by the promise of a rebate on my income taxes? Was I worn down by repeated calls? I can’t say. But if the precipitating factors are obscure, the fallout is all too clear and, of course, all too predictable: a deluge of mail, asking for more money.

Dear Once-and-Future Contributor:
We were so happy with your contribution. We’re sure that your abject failure to send more money reflects only how busy you are, rather than any intention to disappoint us. But disappoint us it has. Please send another similar contribution soon, so that we can continue to faithfully represent Canadians just like you.
Confidently yours, Your Political Party

And, of course, it never rains but it pours: the calls and emails keep coming in, too, in addition to the snail-mail letters. Party events, talks by (ahem) sitting Senators, supposed surveys . . . The fun  never stops in Political Land.

Dear Wise Contributor:
We are writing to solicit your opinions on the weighty matters of the day. Do you unreservedly support everything our inerrant leader has ever done, or do you side with those who would callously destroy our economy and the future of our beloved children? Do you agree that people should behave with a modicum of self-control, or do you support the complete breakdown of societal mores that our opponents are promoting? Although this is not a fund-raising effort per se, if you do include a donation with your reply to this statistically valid and balanced survey, we certainly won’t turn it down.
Condescendingly yours, Your Political Party

Nor does the Christmas season offer any respite.

Dear Friend and Contributor:
This time of year is all about friends and family, and that’s why I’m writing to you personally. Please accept this gift of a mass-produced calendar that I send to only my closest friends. Many of my more committed friends use pre-authorized withdrawals as a convenient way to make monthly contributions. Friend, you, too, can avail yourself of this environmentally friendly option by completing the biodegradable form attached to this letter.
Festively yours, Your Political Party Leader

Not that the tone is always quite so, well, friendly.

Dear Inexplicably Recalcitrant Contributor:
We believe that people are either completely for us or completely against us. So that you can identify yourself as a right-thinking Canadian, we have enclosed your unasked-for party membership card for the coming year. To activate it, send the designated fee. Although we’re a little hurt by your silence since last year, if you just send in your remittance in the enclosed pre-addressed envelope, all will be forgiven.
Unreasonably generously yours, Your Political Party

Familiarity breeds contempt, or so they say. I don’t generally find that to be so, but here it’s definitely ringing true. The more I see of this lowest-common-denominator political communication, the less I like it and all who engage in it, of whatever political stripe.

Dear In-default Contributor:  
Our country faces cataclysmic challenges in the months ahead: we need your support to stymie the nefarious plots hatched by our nogoodnik opponents. Nothing comes cheap these days: neither solutions to what ails us, nor communications aimed at making us think things ail us. The sky is falling, so use the enclosed pre-addressed envelope to send money quickly!
Alarmedly yours, Your Political Party

During the Vietnam War, activists talked about getting every rebellious twenty-something in the USA to call the Pentagon at the same time, thereby overloading their telephone exchanges and shutting down (albeit briefly) the so-called military-industrial complex. Power to the people!

Dear Faithless Contributor:
It’s been eighteen months since we last heard from you. We’ve tried politeness, cajolery, flattery, guilt-tripping, and fear-mongering to no avail. We can’t keep on sending you this valuable material without some sign of support. We are, therefore, moving your name to our Last-chance Mailing List. Unless you donate in the meantime, you will stop receiving monthly mailings in just two more years.
Persistently yours, Your Political Party

If you are a right-thinking Canadian — someone who is dismayed by the tone and content of our political discourse these days — feel free to pick up that phone and jam that telephone exchange, metaphorically speaking. Join me in sending fifty bucks to every political party — and then steadfastly refusing to give any of them another dime. Doing a quick calculation on the back of one of several pre-addressed envelopes I just happen to have handy, I figure they will all bankrupt themselves within five years, spending many multiples of our original contributions to try to get us to contribute more.

What happens after the bankruptcy proceedings? I don’t know. Maybe we can proceed to start again.  Power to the people!

Just one niggly little thought concerns me. It’s all well and good to take the power away from the people who send these damned letters, but will any of that repatriated power go to the people who send in money in response to them? Yikes. Maybe this needs some more thought.

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16 Responses to Subversively Yours

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    For similar reasons, I told a wildlife organization that I had made a decision to stop supporting them. I still support their cause, but I want my money to go to protecting wildlife from extinction, rather than protecting printers from extinction. I got fed up with the constant succession of labels, cards, notepads, calendars, self-promoting newsletters…. I hate to think of the number of trees cut down to get me to send in another donation.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – That raises another valid aspect of these repeated requests. When charitable organizations can’t manage the frequency of their requests to meet my needs, I find myself unable to help them meet their needs . . .

  2. Jim Robertson says:

    Once again, Isabel, your knack for assessing the real situation comes through so clearly.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – You’re very/too kind. I wonder, though, why it is that something has to drive me crazy before I think much about it?

  3. Lorna says:

    Yay for you. Helping me find humour in our appalling political landscape. I’m looking for my chequebook as I write!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Lona – Laugh or cry – sometimes it really is up to us! Now we just need a snappy name for this campaign: the “50 & 5” might work, for the $50 and the bankruptcy in 5 years. Other suggestions welcome . . .

  4. Kate says:

    Great post aunt Isabel!

  5. John Whitman says:

    Look on the bright side! One small (I hope it was small) political contribution got you a great blog topic.
    On a personal note, my 65th birthday and the end of the proposal are both in sight as they are now the same day.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – A variant of “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”? I guess so. As for your own version of freedom-65, congratulations!

  6. Hi Isabel,

    Can I ask was it a Nigerian Party you voted for? As it sounds like a scam!

    Unbelievable the audacity of these people.

    65? I thought you were 50. Wink wink!

    Cheers from Bonny Scotland.


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Douglas – Regrettably, it was a Canadian political party that got my one-time donation. As for age, it’s my much older friends who are hitting 65, not I! Not for another 3.5 years, anyway.

  7. How times have changed: When John and I tried to give $$ to Joe Clark ‘s campaign (he was a buyer of ours and thought we’d reciprocate), we found ourselves shunted from one office to another on The Hill. It took hours and finally we gave a cheque to a nice young woman who promised she’d get it into the right hands/coffers. We never heard from them — any of them — again.

    I have often thought these repeat offenders (see above) should send their first request with these words, “For $50 we will bother you to distraction. For $100, you will never hear from us again.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – A great idea (buying non-communication). I sure don’t donate to any charity that can’t align with my preferences in this regard. It also reminds me of the old joke: First prize, one week in Moose Jaw (or wherever); Second prize: two weeks!

  8. M.McQuillan says:

    Is that what they do with their 6 weeks of time off, rather than enjoy the holidays, write for common folk to donate to the political parties? It was just a couple of weeks ago they had a whole week off for Thanksgiving (when we just got a single day), and so Christmas being much more a valued holiday gets a full 6 weeks off to reflect on how well they serve their constituents. Of course there will be more time off for Easter, followed by summer holidays, wow, these folk work so hard…you really should be sending them more money.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      M – Maybe the only thing that keeps me from utter despair about this is the belief that the communication is driven not by elected folks but by minions. Baby minions, at that, likely. If I thought that all MPs had the same contempt for my intelligence as seems evident from the sanctioned communication, I’m not sure what I’d do. But sending more money – except as a strategic ploy – seems wrong, somehow! There’s a saying that if you want to discourage something, tax it; if you want to encourage something, subsidize it. Me, I’m no longer in the subsidy business.

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