Wednesday, September 08, 2004

RESOURCE ALLOCATION A solicitation from the "New York Democratic Victory Fund" arrived in CONTRAPOSITIVE's mailbox this afternoon.

The enclosed letter, which turns out to be from the New York State Democratic Party, mentions that, "we're in the homestretch of the most important election of our lives," and then goes on to discuss why it's crucial that John Kerry win in November.

But later is where it gets interesting:

Please help the New York Democratic Party succeed in our biggest and most important voter mobilization effort ever--by sending an emergency donation right away in the enclosed envelope.
The letter does mention that, because of Republican retirements, there are two contested, winnable congressional seats up for grabs this year in New York. But the nature of the "emergency"? It never really gets spelled out.

I certainly understand that the New York Dems have an interest in mobilizing voters statewide. And I can sympathize with the party's desire to cash in on the Bush hatred currently pulsing through New York.

All the same, it's difficult to think of a less useful way for Democrats to spend their political dollars this fall.

If Kerry doesn't win in New York, he won't have won anywhere. And if New Yorkers want to help local congressional candidates in tough races, they ought to contribute to the campaigns themselves. (Here's the donation page for one Democratic candidate in a tight New York race. Here's the donation page for the other.)

But dollars sent to the "Victory Fund" are not going to help unseat George W. Bush or shift the balance of power in Washington.

And the bottom line is that this year--with so much at stake nationally--every nickel collected by the New York party is a nickel that would be better spent in Ohio or Nevada or Florida.

Is it asking too much to wish the state party had skipped the fundraising drive? Or at least asked New Yorkers to contribute elsewhere as well?

Maybe it is.

But the solicitation goes over the line when it willfully misleads prospective donors, asking them to mark a check-off box on the donation slip next to the phrase, "I am doing my part to help elect the Kerry-Edwards ticket and Democratics up and down the ballot."

Anyone who thinks sending money to the New York Dems means that he's "doing [his] part" is either delusional or not particularly interested in a November victory for Kerry.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.