Anatomy of a political email

As someone who has spent her entire life in the medical community and specialized in understanding and improving the dynamics and interactions within large, complex systems, I’ve always loved mapping organizational structure and examining how it functions.  And I have become amused by the grandiose, obtuse, apocalyptic pleas for money that politicians fire at your in-box relentlessly.  As our case example for my analysis, we will use my opponent’s most recent email sent at 10:34 this morning.

1.     The Event Horizon Subject line – This is where we say “Critical Deadline” or as I put it “Life as you know it will significantly change if you don’t read my email.”  Now here’s the thing about us self-serving politicians: To us and all the inside-baseball, political blog-a-sphere, pajama people taking shelter from the rain of reality under the umbrella of the highly dysfunctional and nearly self-aware political industrial complex, the amount of money we report is the center of the universe.  When we go to our fancy, schmancy events, eat those little weinies wrapped in bacon and attempt to prove that we are all smarter than each other, it’s all about the money.  But to the average, middle class, mill town voter, our finance deadlines mean squat.  A “Critical Deadline” (hahmmm Mr. Rothfus) is when you’ve been locked out of your job and your healthcare is about to be shut off right before Christmas.  A “Critical Deadline” is when a single mother of 2, working 3 minimum wage jobs, cannot afford to pay the gas bill in time to keep her home heated.  A “Critical Deadline” is NOT when a Congressman worth $8 million who has $1.2 million in special interest money in the bank, has to file a finance report. 

2.     Demonize the enemy - This is where we make sure that one half of America hates the other half.  And this is an essential part of making sure that our process continues to fail the American people and the middle class.  In the case of this particular email, you are expected to be conditioned to hate Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.  To effectively mobilize a strong emotionally charged fear response that compels you to donate, you need to negatively activate as many of the recipient’s 5 senses as possible, ensuring maximum anger, frustration and hate (that’s the secret).  In this case, providing a face that is recognizable is very important.  Second, you need to ensure that your audience has been repeatedly conditioned to perceive the visual being employed as abhorrent, in order to elicit the most severe, negative fear response and concurrently increasing the amount of the donation.  In this case, women make much better catalysts because the behaviors they are socially permitted to exhibit are far more limited and they are therefore easier to demonize.  The left loved employing Sarah Palin for this purpose.  The right uses Nancy Pelosi and Hillary a la Nikki Haley like when she had to do a TV ad stating “I am not a witch” (just in case you weren’t sure.)  Same idea.

3.     The Talking Points – This is my favorite part!  It is literally a laundry list of meaningless statements that the political industrial complex of one party or another employs to scare you.  Here are the high points of Mr. Rothfus’ “I see liberals and all the things they will do that should keep you up at night.”

A.     Closing the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay and bringing terrorists to American jails.  They love to tell you that us Dems are gettin’ jiggy with the terrorists.  Does anyone in their right mind REALLY believe that any elected official wants more terrorists in the United States?  Guantanamo is a policy issue, with which the right and left have a slight disagreement.  But the absolutely preposterous insinuation that one party enables terrorists over another is absurd.  George Bush and Paul Ryan don’t want to enable terrorists and Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton don’t either.

B.     Gun Control – Banning the sale of guns to terrorists is not gun control, its terrorist control.  My District is full of Second Amendment advocates or, as the left likes to call them, “gun nuts.”  And I haven’t met one of them, including my GOP, NRA loving Uncle Bill, who thinks we shouldn’t find a constitutionally sound way to stop the sale of guns to suspected terrorists.  Is this really up for debate? Seriously?  And if Mr. Rothfus REALLY wanted to prove that he has the spine to fight for the constitutionalists and Second Amendment advocates, why didn’t he stay in Washington DC and argue with those “liberal, progressives” instead of going home two days earlier than the session was scheduled to end?  Instead he bailed, insulted Mike Doyle and a civil rights icon and went home.  He wants to blame me, Hillary and Nancy because no one had the guts to stand up for his views on the floor?  Showing up is what most of us call "doing the bare minimum."  The hypocrisy inherent in that argument is so blatant it’s lunacy.

C.    "More controls through Obamacare" – I have read Obamacare over and over, and I have no idea what Rothfus is talking about here.  Furthermore, the entire right wing of this country continues to campaign on the evils of Obamacare (or as the rational people call it, the Affordable Care Act) and their conviction for repealing it.  Consider this, Rothfus ran on Repealing the ACA in 2012.  Since being elected, he has voted over 60 times to repeal it and failed EVERY single time (each time costs the taxpayer $1 million in government processes by the way.)  They tried repealing it through the Supreme Court and FAILED AGAIN.  How much of our taxpayer dollars are they going to spend on an effort that is clearly useless and futile?  Furthermore, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report clearly demonstrates that the ACA has provided needed healthcare coverage to millions Americans and cut costs to Medicare by nearly $200 billion.  It also has created more accountability and transparency and moved the reimbursement structure by incentivizing hospitals to provide better quality service instead of more service. These points are inarguable.

D.    “More RESET buttons abroad that have diminished American exceptionalism.”  I have no idea what the hell this is.  I really think he just made this up.

E.     “Pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges who will rubber stamp their progressive agenda” – Um Keith, the Justice that actually decided that Obamacare was constitutional and destroyed your last hope of taking healthcare away from millions of Americans, was chosen by Bush.  And it was the conservative Justice, Antonin Scalia that wrote in the Heller case that the Second Amendment is not a right to own any gun for any reason.  So stop fear mongering with this misinformed partisan hack-job.  The fact is, pretty often the Supreme Court gets it right.  And when we feel they are wrong, it’s usually because they chose not to take liberties away that one side or the other feels are not viable.  This happens on both sides.  The left thinks the right to own an automatic weapon is not viable.  The right thinks that a women’s right to maintain autonomous control of her own body is not viable.  We all do it.  And somewhere, in the gray between these two extremes, is the majority’s consensus and the answer to both.  But we would actually have to stop hating and demonizing to get there. And we can’t have that now can we?

4.     The mumbo jumbo talking points of “all the stuff I will do without ever putting forth a real, substantive policy idea.” 

Yes ‘Merica, if I win we are going to suddenly transcend gridlock with tax reform! Patient-centered healthcare reform! Reforming the regulatory process to stop job and wage KILLING regulations! And a renewed commitment toward national defense!  YES, YES, YES.  Now, I have no idea how we are going to do any of this but it sounds darn good, don’t it!” 

This all from the man who, when I debated him 3 times in 2014, brought 3 pages of talking points into the debate and never deviated from them once.  No ideas, no solutions, no processes.  Just empty, meaningless talking points handed down from the Washington insiders at the RNC who have no clue what is happening in the 12th Congressional District.

5.     Now show me the money.  ‘Nough said.

DONATE IF YOU CAN, Not because you are terrified of what will happen if you don't, but because you think I will work hard, do a good job and provide rational representation to my District.  Thanks, Erin