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Talking Back To Democratic National Committee

A few weeks ago, I received a “survey” from the Democratic National Committee. I say “survey” because it seemed designed as a fundraiser letter and the last question was how much money you were going to contribute. I’m sure the Republicans do the same. But I was so annoyed by their proposed list of priorities and sloppy survey language that I took time to send them a page and a half of comments. I wish I’d scanned the survey before I mailed it back. But since I bet at least some readers got a copy of this “survey”, I figured sharing my comments with you couldn’t hurt.


Comments on 2010 Presidential Survey by Daniel Cornwall, Registration # XXABM8A

I thought about not returning this survey as it appears that you are much more interested in gathering donations than feedback from the Democratic Party rank and file. But I decided that it would be more constructive to offer some comments about why I’m unhappy with both the President and especially the Democrats in Congress.

I’m not some teabagger. I gave money to the Obama campaign and to the Democratic party in 2008. I am a blogger and actively blogged on behalf of his campaign. See my “Why Vote Obama” posts at https://alaskanlibrarian.wordpress.com/category/whyvoteobama.

I’d like to start my criticism with your survey and move on to some serious problems I’m having with the President and the Party.

First, your survey instructions tell people to complete their DNC contribution form. This looks like it’s designed to depress feedback from people either unable, or in my case, unwilling to vote for the DNC. It also makes me believe that you sent this “survey” to all known Democratic contributors such as my self. If you were truly interested in taking the pulse of the party, a truly random sample of registered Democrats would be better. If you’re going to survey, survey. If you’re going to fund raise, be up front about it.

Next, I have a problem with Section III: National Priorities. First off, it would have been better to ask people to choose their top 3-5 priorities than asking us to rank all 13. I also think that three of your priorities are phrased in a meaningless way: “Dealing with Iran”, “Fighting Terrorism”, and “Dealing with North Korea.” People can sign up for these priorities with wildly different ideas of what the President should do. These priorities also sound like Bush priorities.

I have two problems with your Democratic Party Priorities. They are too focused on electing Democrats. There’s nothing on what Democrats should do after they are elected. I know it’s the job of the DNC to elect Democrats, but if this is a survey, there should be some input on what values Democrats stand for. If we don’t stand for anything in particular, then we’d be Congressional Republicans.

The other problem I have with your Party Priorities is that while no option was offered for the Democrats to organize themselves, you did offer the option of “Combating Republicans’ Obstructionist Tactics.” Until Senator Brown was elected, the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate. If they would have held together, the very real Republican obstructionism wouldn’t have mattered. But the cacucus couldn’t stay together on health care and kept watering down the bill.

Even now, Democrats in the Senate could be organizing themselves better. They could be pledging as a full caucus to redo Senate rules next January to trim back the ability to filibuster. As of last week, they only had 52 votes for that.

A final comment on the survey is that there should have been more room for comments and less room for offering campaign contributions. At least there should have been on a real survey.

I want to close with a few thoughts on stuff I think you should have asked, but didn’t. I voted for Obama and Congressional Democrats in part because I expected them to close the Gitmo prison, end and prosecute cases of torture by the US government and generally roll back the assault on civil liberties carried out by the Bush Administration.

I feel confident that our government does not currently torture people in its custody and that’s a good thing. But I was deeply depressed that a Democratic Congress led the way in keeping Gitmo open. I was dismayed that the Obama administration refuses to hold anyone accountable for torture that took place under the Bush regime. We may as well withdraw from the International Convention on Torture if we’re not going to meet our obligation to prosecute torture carried out by members of our government and its contractors. A few weeks ago, Attorney General Holder expressed what seemed like an official view that terror suspects captured on US soil by civil authorities should not be informed of their Miranda rights. This is an open invitation to reclass many initial charges as terrorism and is worthy of being a Bush administration proposal.

I voted to end Bush policies, not to perpetuate them. Civil liberties was one of my main motivators in 2008 and I doubt I was alone. If the party isn’t going to be their defender, I’m not going to be nearly as motivated either in time or in funds.


Despite the above, I’ll consider contributing to individual campaigns, but until the DNC demonstrates that they’re committed to something above and beyond winning elections by any means necessary, I don’t feel compelled to contribute to them.


2 Responses

  1. “I voted to end Bush policies, not to perpetuate them. Civil liberties was one of my main motivators in 2008 and I doubt I was alone. If the party isn’t going to be their defender, I’m not going to be nearly as motivated either in time or in funds.”

    YES! That was exactly why I voted for Obama! It seemed as if a Constitutional scholar-professor-whatever would make that a huge priority, to repair the damage the Constitution had received in the previous eight years. It broke my heart to read that “rendition” was continuing, and later, that a way to justify “extended detention” was being sought.

    As for the survey, I’ve learned that many of them have such loaded questions, it’s a little like the man on the witness stand who is asked, “So, when did you stop beating your wife?”

    Thank you for an excellent post.

  2. Hi Nan, thanks for stopping by and for proving that I’m not alone in my views.

    This wasn’t the first survey I’ve seen with loaded questions, but it’s the first one in awhile that asked me for money for doing so.

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