Cross-posted from Hannah Blog, where you can see an image of the "documents."
In 1960, any number of public officials didn’t want the people they were supposed to serve counted, especially in the South. So, one of the tricks they employed was to arrest the enumerator who was going door to door, preferably on a Friday afternoon, on a charge of "impersonating a census taker," and let him languish in jail over the weekend until the federal supervisor could be brought in on Monday to authenticate his employee. No doubt, a weekend in jail was discouraging to some. Which was why many neighborhoods had to be canvassed over and over again.
Now, almost fifty years later, the Republican National Committee has progressed. Instead of charging enumerators with "impersonating a census taker," they’re sending out documents to impersonate the census itself. While, upon closer inspection, the overt purpose is to solicit monetary donations to promote the election of Republicans in 2010, the packet that arrived in the mail is so fraught with deceptions that it’s hard to imagine what they’re actually up to, or to know where to begin. So, I’ll just work from the outside in.
About the only thing apparently authentic about the plain white envelope the mailman left was the metered stamp identifying the sender as a "NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION" operating out of zip code 24551 and having paid $00.08 in U.S. POSTAGE! Why non-profits, in addition to having to pay no tax, get a subsidy from the postal service is a mystery. That they were charged only eight cents for an envelope that weighs more than an ounce is an outrage. Maybe it's the "DO NOT DESTROY, OFFICIAL DOCUMENT" notation which tricked the P.O.
The only other feature of the exterior envelope, a glassine window almost half its size, serves to distract from this minor outrage. Mine reads:
SPECIAL NOTICE: You have been selected to represent Republican voters in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.
Enclosed please find documents registered in your name.
DELIVER EXCLUSIVELY TO : my name
Census Document Registered To:
zip + four
That there are no official documents inside is actually the least surprising thing about this Publisher's Clearing House-like missive. What's almost shocking is that I, a life-long Democrat, have ostensibly been chosen to represent Republicans in a Congressional battle-ground state. Really? Am I supposed to conclude that the Republican National Committee is really stupid? Or is this, perhaps, an effort to generate doubt about the upcoming real Constitution-mandated census and suppress participation ahead of time?
The part of the first missive not visible from out side clearly identifies it as
2009 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS
Commissioned by the Republican Party
District: New Hampshire # 1
Census Tracking Code:
Please Respond By:
November 16, 2009
Over the fold, there's an explanation.
Your Participation Is Greatly Needed and Appreciated:
Strengthening our Party for the 2009-2010 elections will take a massive grassroots effort. As a key facet of our overall campaign strategy, the Republican Party is conducting a Census of Congressional Districts all across America. The opinions registered in this document will be used to help ensure that our Republican leaders and candidates are specifically addressing those issues most important to voters in your area.
Instructions: Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. All individual responses will be kept confidential and only survey tallies will be shared with our Congressional leaders and candidates. When finished answering your Census, please return it along with your generous contribution in the enclosed postage-paid envelope. Thank you.
Nice and polite. Then this faux census goes into the typical political profile/survey format we recognize from what every political consultant outfit sends out. I'm not going to cover them all, but number 3. caught my eye. In response to the question, "did you cast a vote in the following elections--2008 Presidential Contest, 2006 Mid-Term Elections" the choice is "yes," "no" and "unsure." Also noteworthy is the reference to the Presidential election as a "contest."
Some questions are clearly "loaded"--e.g. "Do you think things in this country are generally going in the wrong direction, or do you feel things are starting to improve?" Thinking is associated with "wrong," while improvement is a feeling.
On the other hand, feelings are also important when we come to Democrats. "Do you feel that the trillion-dollar solutions the Democrats have advanced to boost our economy will help or hurt our nation in the long run?"
Given that eight years of Republican rule have run the economy into the ditch and tax cuts obviously haven't worked, you'd think they would tweak this standard survey form, if it is really directed at Republicans, and remove "Would you like Congress to pass additional tax cuts to further stimulate our nation's economy?" As if the economy weren't heading into the ditch fast enough already!
Finally, in the DOMESTIC ISSUES section it is revealed that "to embrace social issues" means:
Ban burning of the flag
Ban human cloning
Faith based initiatives
Ban all abortions
Prohibit homosexual marriage
Which I guess could be summed up as "Repeal the Bill of Rights"
The Fourth page of this faux document, in addition to raising "concern" and "worry," is mostly about how to send money, if only $15 "to help defray the cost of processing my Census Document."
Also included in the packet is a three-page letter from Michael Steele himself. On the first page he claims that
Your registered Census is one of a select few being mailed into New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.
Because of your high level of political involvement and steadfast commitment to the Republican party, your personal input on the questions presented in your Census Document is critical to our Party's future.
He's got that half right.
Also right on page two is the assertion that
This is a crucial time in our Party's and our nation's history.
And on page three, the Chairman, depending on the likes of me to send money, if that's the true agenda, lays out the parameters of failure:
In the coming months, the RNC must engage in recruitment, opposition research, voter identification and grassroots organizing. And we must use the latest technology to lay the groundwork to execute our campaign plans.
By subverting the 2010 Census--is that the plan?
On the other hand, I do appreciate him spelling out "the noble principles this great country was founded on--unobtrusive government and individual liberty." That would account for secret deals and crooks who don't get caught.
"Noble principles," "high level" and "select few" are, of course, all phrases designed to appeal to individuals whose sense of self-worth needs a boost. No doubt, that's also the import of the "First Class" stamp on the "No Postage Necessary" return envelope, whose PO Box number doesn't actually comport with either the street address or the zip, most probably because, as usual, some direct mail operation is looking to get fat off the donations. All just part and parcel of the disdain for the electorate that Republican political operatives typically display.
Maybe they can't help it. Maybe, rather than deceptive, Michael Steele's Republican Party is just delusional. After all, he's still on a mission to "empower the people of this nation--not the government" and still hasn't noticed that the Constitution already does that. Clearly, the party of situational awareness Republicans are not.