Today, when I checked into OAC, I noticed that someone kicked in $25 to the fundraiser. Thank you, whoever you are.
As I watch us struggle to raise what is, after all, a pitifully small sum of money, I recall a time, a few years ago, when I was, for my sins, International Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad, the branch of the U.S. Democratic Party that gets out the vote among U.S. citizens living overseas. One of the prerogatives of the office was serving, ex officio, on the Democratic National Committee, which meant that one day, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., I got to hear a party official talk about fundraising. What she said was shocking.
She began by observing that professional fundraisers classify donors by the number of zeros in their donation, from one to six. She then asked us what was the only category in which the Democratic Party, the party of the people, had consistently done better than our Republican opponents.
Did you, like me, think it must be one, two, or three-zero donations? The correct answer is six zeros. That's right, donations in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
She went on to explain that Democratic party fundraising was like an old-fashioned champagne class. Not a flute, one of the ones with a wide, shallow cup at the top, a long thin stem, and a small flat base at the bottom.
Did we know, then, where our Republican opponents, the party of the plutocrats were beating us hollow? The answer should now be apparent, in two, three, and four-zero donations.
How could that be? The answer is simple. The Republican base includes a lot of cultural conservatives, church goers who habitually pledge substantial sums to their churches (some actually tithe) and small business people who cheerfully pay up when asked to donate to causes supported by their clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, that sort of group). A few hundred dollars a year to support the party of their choice? No big deal.
In contrast, liberals, progressives, people on the left who proclaim the values of community, turn out to be a remarkably miserly, tight-fisted lot. They will make a lot of noise when that's easy (I am not talking about those who turn out for demonstrations like OWS). Reach in their pockets for less than the cost of a fast food lunch to support the work of people who have put in endless volunteer hours to make something like OAC possible? They talk bit about reciprocity, but when push comes to shove....
I do hope I am not talking about you, dear colleague. Six thousand people? Three hundred bucks? A lousy 50 cents per person? Come on. Do what's right.