Stateside: Five Reasons And Three Words

Published: Fri 19 Mar 2004 11:21 AM
Stateside with Rosalea
Five Reasons And Three Words
Ewwww! Somehow the Democratic National Kennedy has gotten hold of my correctly spelt name and my junk mail diet is now supplemented by a new round of begging letters. Even without opening the envelope I see five reasons not to vote for a Democratic candidate in the presidential election.
First, the envelope is quite obviously put together by a company that specialises in bulk mailings, yet it's addressed in blue ink and in a typeface that mimics handwriting, as if I'm expected to think that somebody sat down and personally addressed it to me. Oh, I get it! I'm supposed to vote for the party that most insults my intelligence.
Second, it's sent at the non-profit postage rate, which means I can't return it to the sender unless I put some first class postage on it. That's like a thug walking in my house uninvited and then demanding that I pay him to take the earplugs out of his ears so I can tell him to bugger off. Or it's like that certain kind of emotional blackmail, where you know if you're honest you'll be made to pay for it.
Third, although the DNK is in Washington DC, the envelope proudly proclaims it was mailed from zip code 19446, which is Lansdale, Pennsylvania, a borough of 16,000 people, 83 percent white, median income $42k, about 20 miles north of Philadelphia. A quick search of the yellow pages shows that it's home to at least one direct mail advertising service. Okay, so this one doesn't count, cos I knew it was direct mail advertising, so why would it be mailed from DC?
Second third. The envelope says in big letters on the front: How you can help our new Democratic nominee. What new Democratic nominee? The party convention, which is where the nomination is decided, isn't until the last week of July. C'mon, fess up. There was always going to be only one candidate the DNK would support, and no amount of daft reporting by starry-eyed interns will ever convince me that Kerry is really a shy guy, who started off on the back foot in Iowa with too few people in the field, and that it was a surprise he won the Iowa caucuses and got the requisite momentum.
Anyone with half a brain could see that sending hordes of Californians to the Midwest to knock on doors asking people to vote for Howard Dean made as much sense as sending hordes of Sicilian peasants to Sweden to knock on doors asking people to vote Yes on joining the European Monetary Union. All right, that one doesn't count either, because even without the Sicilian peasants the Swedes said No.
Third third, and a jolly big third it is, too. When I turn the envelope over to open it, there in big letters are the words "James Carville". Aaargh! A veteran of Clinton's 1992 election campaign, he and his wife, a Republican strategist, appear on politico shows regularly and they are the tawdriest-looking couple of political operatives you ever did see. They seem to have given up on ever fulfilling their dream to have action figures made in their likeness, and are now competing with Maria Shriver and John Kerry to be in the Guinness Book of Records as World's Scariest Halloween Masks instead. (I feel sure it's OK to say stuff like that in the US because Telegenics is a college-accredited course of study.)
In for a penny, in for a pound, I actually open the envelope and take out the begging letter. Just as I suspected, practically every second word is "Bush" - who has to be defeated. so you'd better send some moolah lickety-split to the DNK so they can counter He-who-has-a-name's war chest with a big fat war chest for Noname, the new Democratic nominee of front-of-envelope fame. This is like saying: if you're not nice to your mummy, daddy will whack you around the ears. Any self-respecting grownup would say, to hell with the both of you.
Which, of course, is what happened back in the early years of the twentieth century when the Republican Party became what Teddy Roosevelt called "a leadership which has no following." According to the writer Walter Karp, in the mid-term elections of 1910, "the electorate delivered a rebuke not to a party label but to a party organization and its minions." As a result of the tide turning against the Republicans, the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in sixteen years and captured several governorships that had previously seemed like Republican safe seats.
But did the Republican party oligarchy learn from that? Oh, no. In 1912 they manipulated the presidential nominating convention so that their chosen candidate, Taft, won despite Roosevelt having far more support from the party's rank and file. In the election in November, Roosevelt stood for the Progressive Party instead and far out-polled Taft. Having picked up on the national vibe, and so presenting himself as big on reform, the Democrat Woodrow Wilson easily became president.
They may have manipulated the vote earlier in the race - at the caucuses instead of waiting for convention - but the three words I have for the DNK are: shoe, foot, other.

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