If you aren’t familiar with him, Kingston is a 20 year or so Congressman and one of two far-to-the right candidates competing for the Republican nomination to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chamblis.
(Non sequitur Break: can a seat be vacated if it was occupied by an empty suit or has it been vacant all along?)
Anyway, since I live in Georgia Kingston is dogging my every on-line move. Wherever I go – social media, political blogs, even some of my work related sites, he is there waiting for me. It is very unnerving to be aggressively stalked even by a familiar face with a transparent motive.
I assume that people who live in Kentucky are having a similar experience with Mitch McConnell and that Rick Scott and Scott Walker are keeping potential voters company in Florida and Wisconsin.
The political ads are probably no more annoying than the others that show how well the Internet has profiled me. It is even a little reassuring to discover there are gaps in their data. Mark Zuckerberg might know where I live and that I looked at a cat condo on some retail site in 2012 (it was a really nice one – I remember because the picture still pops up on my Facebook feed about once a week) but he appears unaware that no Republican will ever get my vote no matter how many Kingston ads he parades past my face.
Last week I was looking for a recipe for zucchini fritters only to find Jack again. I was trying to remember if I had parmesan cheese and he was inviting me to click to read up on how conservative he is. So I did. And as I did I remembered that this was going to cost Jack’s campaign coffers some money. Probably a couple of bucks. So when I went to my next web stop, a liberal political blog and saw his smiling face I clicked again. Another couple of bucks. Thus was launched my own small guerrilla political campaign.
I can’t possibly bankrupt the huge fund Kingston has assembled to further his latest career move, but I can make a small dent. And every dollar I cost him is wasted; it buys him nothing. It is also one dollar he won’t be able to spend where it might do him some good – buying a television ad, a bumper sticker, or a yard sign that might reach someone who gives a damn about his conservative bona fides. Enough clicks and it could start to hurt. It might mean more time spent fundraising rather than making speeches or kissing babies. Best of all, if the campaign has set a daily or weekly budget for that ad and the limit is hit, the ad just disappears.
In addition to targeting potential voters by precinct Google algorithms make campaign ads particularly likely to pop up on political blogs like this one and apparently without paying much attention to its left/right leanings. Thus a Kentuckian can be reading about Mitch McConnell’s latest ass-hattery only to fall across an ad urging the reader to vote for him.
Even in off-election years liberal sites are plastered with ads for whack job political sites like NewsMax (Should Obama be Impeached? Vote now!). But, and this is important, from the point-of-view of the blog these ads pay the rent. Thus my little crusade has another plus; a click means those candidates and causes will be funding the very voices speaking out most loudly against them; spreading the word they don’t want people to hear. If I click enough – and my job requires I live on line – I might generate enough money to expand the reach of progressive truth a teeny little bit as well as blunt the effectiveness of a few right wing campaigns. The Koch brothers fund them with their millions – I fight back with my mouse.
I do admit to a twinge of conscience as I click here and there. It is sort of a campaign dirty trick. But maybe Jack should refine his criteria for placing an ad – it isn’t hard to figure me for a liberal – so in essence he is asking for it. I also remind myself how of how many yard signs for Kingston’s last three opponents I placed through the district, and how they vanished within hours of being hammered into the ground.
Of course I would never suggest that people in Michigan, or Texas, or South Carolina follow my lead vis-à-vis their respective stalkers. Never, ever, ever.