TCS Daily

I Am (Apparently) a Left-Wing Democrat

By Ilya Shapiro - June 24, 2004 12:00 AM

It must have been the $10 I gave to UNICEF. Or to Project HOPE, which immunizes kids in third-world countries. Or to FINCA, a micro-lending institution. Clearly, anyone who gives token sums to carefully vetted development organizations must be a rabid left-winger.

Or at least the likes of Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Bill Clinton think so. Otherwise, why would they, along with fellow-traveling groups, start barraging me with direct mail solicitations?

It started a few months ago with a "survey" from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which the House Democratic Leader earnestly implored me to complete so that she would know "where [I] stand on the Bush administration's economic policies, the future of Social Security, America's role on the world stage, and other important matters." P.S. please rush a donation to the DCCC so they can do a better job fighting for Democratic values. After all, this "may well be [my] last chance to put the brakes on the Republicans' alarming right-wing agenda."

Well. I don't know who runs the Democrats' data-mining, but if all their missives are as well-targeted as this one, the right-wing agenda has nothing to worry about. Not only am I about the least likely candidate to donate money to the Democratic Party, but my circle -- Purple Americans -- is so anti-Democrat that one of my good friends is actually running against Pelosi herself (I suppose the three Republicans in San Francisco drew straws and she got the short one).

Being the political provocateur that I am, however, I took the survey. Sample question (I paraphrase, having foolishly returned the thing before photocopying it as fodder for future punditry): How concerned are you about the Bush administration's proposed privatization of Social Security, which would kick granny out onto the street? Of the available answers, I chose "very concerned," because the White House is clearly not doing enough to develop and promote individual savings accounts and other financial devices that would enable people to take control of their mandatory retirement withholdings if they so desire, thereby saving the entire Social Security system for those who prefer 0-2% returns.

Another question: How worried are you that President Bush will nominate judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, thereby forcing millions of women into cruel deaths in back alleys? Here I couldn't find an agreeable answer, so I drew and checked a box titled "hopeful," as, regardless of my personal views on abortion, I do hope that this and every President will only appoint judges who can properly interpret the Constitution.

The survey went on like this for a while, making clear that its purpose was to solicit funds, not opinions, by alarming the (already sympathetic) recipient. What was funny, and telling, is that it was divided into sections, and the questions in the "individual liberty" category were all skewed to elicit answers favoring governmental non-interference, while the "economic policy" questions sought responses encouraging state regulation and restrictions on personal choice -- and I pointed out this inconsistency in the "additional comments" section.

Suffice it to say, this was probably not the reply Pelosi's minions wanted, not least because when they shook the envelope, no check came flying out.

But still the mail came, from Jim Carville on behalf of the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation (which included a gorgeous drawing of the future Clinton library) and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jim Brady on behalf of gun control and John Kerry on his own behalf. I actually started reading them because they're much more entertaining than credit card offers, oil change coupons, and the other sundry sordid mail I get.

"Dear Fellow Environmentalist," one letter began, realizing, I assumed, that not all people who value the great outdoors agree with the failed command-and-control policies of the Left. But then disappointment as the letter continued: "The Bush Administration is determined to wipe out the laws that protect our air, water, wildlife, and public lands." I must have missed the press release announcing that proposal; perhaps it was lost in the flurry of Tom Daschle's complaints about the President's failure to create jobs in sectors completely unaffected by the regulation of air, water, and wildlife, like construction and manufacturing.

Then I got a letter, with yet another survey, from the ACLU -- which unfortunately has no place for libertarians who favor the Patriot Act, racial-profiling, and personal expressions of religion in the public square. Then arrived a big manila envelope from America Coming Together (ACT), the George Soros-funded "grassroots" PAC whose sole reason for existence is to give George W. Bush "a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas." Fittingly, I recycled ACT's entreaties, but the group has graciously provided me a chance to reconsider, sending an identical envelope a week later (so much for conserving trees).

Returning to the mailing that started this avalanche, Congresswoman Pelosi has apparently now tabulated her survey results and wants more of my input; this time, in return for a contribution of $25 I would get a limited edition Victory '04 "Fighting Donkey" lapel pin. That had me convinced, but I could not for the life of me find my checkbook. My lapel will have to be satisfied with its Federalist Society pin.

Finally, just last week I received a personal invitation from the Speaker of the House to "The President's Dinner," actually a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Speaker Hastert is so convinced I'll attend that he's reserved a seat for me. I thought that was a nice gesture, but then I saw that the price tag was $2,500.

Well, I guess if I'm going to be mischaracterized demographically, I'd rather it be for an upward adjustment of purchasing power than for holding views antithetical to this country's liberty and prosperity. But, really, how did I get on these lists?

Ilya Shapiro last wrote for TCS about the wait to pay respects to President Reagan in the Capitol.


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