The Obama website and email list were certainly very effective tools, especially for people in my neighborhood of the political engagement spectrum (which is to say experienced hobbyist but not professional). While I didn’t rely upon it for news, all my donations to the Obama campaign were made through it, and I used it for organizing as well (a friend and I very easily cut our own canvassing turf on it). Point being, with regard to the luvh.rakhe account, both the campaign and I were happy with the results.
In the aftermath of Election Day, I was surprised to see the emails from Barack and Michelle and David and the whole gang keep rolling in at such a steadyclip. But any annoyance was tempered by jubilation and awareness of the importance of Obama’s New Media operation. And when they sent out the feedback questionnaire in late November, though I didn't even consider filling it out, I fully acknowledged that it made sense to conduct.
But yesterday's email from David Plouffe, soliciting a $100 donation for the inauguration, struck me as a little ballsy. Didn't this campaign just spend the most on a campaign - ever?
This brings me to my worry - fundraising. Typically, when we worry about fundraising, we are worrying about Congressmen, and our primary worry is actually about distraction, that they start raising reelection money on Day One of their terms. That's not what's going on here - it's relatively effortless for the Obama campaign to send out an email solitication or to tack on one of those red "Please Donate" buttons to the bottom of an email that doesn't start out as a solicitation. And I don't believe a President, least of all a President Obama, does or would spend any time raising money him/herself. What I am worried about is the relationship of Obama to money. Fundraising is a necessary evil, and for the democracy-minded, the emphasis is on the "evil," not on the "necessary." I'm still deeply unsettled by Obama outspending McCain by orders of magnitude. Granted, Obama's fundraising, in addition to being the most prolific in history, has also been the most egalitarian. Still - donations before he even takes office? Those would ostensibly be for his 2012 reelection, but they could also be funneled to various midterm candidates 2010. In other words, it's cementing, entrenching, and probably even deepening the role of money in politics.
This, of course, is just a vague and inchoate worry. And I grant that it may be too naive. That's why it was actually annoyance that carried the day, and at the end of it all, all I was really doing when I unsubscribed was just reacting to some spam.
PS, a coinage. I invite you to use "unsubscribe" for any sort of quitting or withdrawal. Example as follows.
A: I've met someone else.
B: Are you unsubscribing from me?
Also acceptable is "In 2009, I'm unsubscribing from McDonald's."
PPS, Happy New Year!