where my money goes

The problem with being both poor and lazy is that there are not too many other avenues besides money and action by which one may contribute to the political landscape, especially during a primary.

The problem with being superficial and judgmental is that, once I have assessed the basic issues-positions of the candidates and determined who is Evil and who is Not Evil, I develop irrational attachments to or loathings for them based on things like the graphic design of their webpage, or what their wives wear, or whether they understand how hideously ugly pleated pants look when you stand up after having been sitting for an hour (or stand up after having been sitting for a minute, or sit down after standing, or have just put the pants on, or when the pants are hanging in the closet).

Given those constraints, with my limited dollars (and, most likely, limited sense), I have developed a working hypothesis on how best I can spend my money in service of a primary election, while simultaneously protecting myself (and the world) from my completely stupid judgments of who is the best candidate for whatever job. It is based on the following facts:

  1. There are things I love, and things I disdain.
  2. Because the world is not designed in a proper and correct way, it is rare that there is a candidate who shares my love for all things I love, and disdain for all things I disdain.
  3. I would prefer that my money not be used in support of things I disdain, or against things I love.
  4. There are plenty of single-issue organizations that, categorized in the right combinations, love the things I love, and disdain the things I disdain.
  5. These organizations give money, support, and endorsement to particular candidates.
  6. In the general election, I will most likely vote for the Democrat.

The synthesis of these facts is that I find it makes infinitely more sense to give money to, say, Planned Parenthood and NOW and Freedom to Marry than to give money to Clinton or Obama or Edwards. Because then my dollars are directly connected to the issues I support, and the incremental increase in power and influence that those organizations might get from my donation speaks directly to What Americans Care About, rather than Who Americans Want To Vote For. I trust Planned Parenthood to throw their weight behind the candidate they think will do the most good for reproductive rights, and NOW to assess who is the most favorable to women, and Freedom to Marry to figure out which of the (frustratingly noncommittal) candidates is least likely to hide behind DOMA and cite precedent as an excuse for avoiding the issue of gay marriage. Ahem. And I will trust that these expressions of support will lead to the right (or at the very least, the best) candidate being put up for the general election, and then I will vote for that candidate.

This way I articulate my values clearly, and I am not -- in theory -- swayed into loathing by one candidate's really horrible haircut (coughedwards) or into love by a particularly affable grin (coughobama).

At least, this is how it works in theory. Because I did give twenty-five bucks to Obama. Because his website and wife are both very attractive.


RW said...

Or you can save your money and do as I do which is, um... not give anybody my money.

Don't laugh, it works.

Marcin said...

Hmm, I'm mildly surprised to see this foray into rational analysis of the economics and organisational aspects of political donation.

If you had a political blog, it would probably be my favourite.

meredith said...

putting on my nonprofiteer-hat* (on the board of one and a staff member of another), you rock my socks.

*it's a pork-pie.

Little Bill said...

...you do know that Edwards dropped out of the race, right?

helen said...

bill: yes, of course. he is just such a good example of someone whose hair is terrible.

Blair said...

Of course, you could see political donations as a sort of multiplier effect for your money, because the truth is that your money going to NOW or the HRC (organization, not the candidate) isn't going to accomplish a whole heck of a lot, nationally.

I gave Barack some money because he could become president, and that would advance many things I love, and very few I disdain. I won't give a cent to Hillary Clinton, nor put her sticker on my car - not because I hate her, but because she embarrasses me and will never win.