May 31, 2017 by Jean
For several months now, I’ve been trapped on an email mailing list for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC); they send me 3-5 emails per day. I don’t know how a liberal Democrat like me got on this list, but I’ve made many valiant attempts to get off it. First, I filled out the online “unsubscribe” form linked at the bottom of each email message. Each time I filled it out, I got a message cheerfully telling me that I had “Successfully Unsubscribed!” – but there was never any diminution in the quantity of the emails. After doing this more than a dozen times over a period of several weeks, I came to the conclusion that it was never going to work. My next step was to go to the NRCC website and fill out an email contact form with my request to be unsubscribed from the list. This got no response at all, and the emails just kept on coming. Finally, I found a phone number for the NRCC and called them. I spoke to a very nice young man who promised to get my email address off their mailing list. But that was more than a month ago, and – you guessed it – the emails just keep on coming.
The NRCC is just not willing to let me go. I feel as though I’m trapped behind enemy lines. It’s not that I think of Republicans as my enemies, but the NRCC emails make it clear that they consider people like me the enemy. I have been both fascinated and appalled by the lies and distortions of truth that the NRCC uses to try to whip its base into action. (“Action” here is defined as sending money; each email ends with a request for a donation.) In the early weeks, before the first round of voting in the Georgia special election for Congress, the emails screamed about how the Democrats were trying to “steal” this congressional seat. (I wish I had saved one of those emails so that I could quote it directly.) The charge of trying to “steal” an election implies some kind of illegal activity – campaign dirty tricks or voter fraud. But when I read further, it turned out that trying to “steal” the election consisted of uniting behind a single candidate and funneling funds to that candidate. I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony of these emails, which were asking me – a Mainer who lives nowhere near Georgia – to donate money to this campaign to help offset all the “outside” money that the Democrats were pouring into the race; meanwhile, the Democratic Party (of which I am a registered member), had not asked me to contribute any money to this race. Recent emails have let go of the “stealing” rhetoric and mostly focused on Nancy Pelosi as the embodiment of all that is evil.
I am well aware that Republicans don’t have the market cornered on political distortions of truth. To my great dismay, liberals have been engaging in the same tactics. I don’t get these lies from any official Democratic Party source, however. Rather, they appear on social media, usually as anonymous posts that we are asked to copy and paste rather than share (presumably because copying and pasting obliterates the source of the post). The difference is that I feel comfortable confronting my liberal friends about these tactics. I respond to misleading political Facebook posts by asking the friend who posted it to identify the source of their information and exhorting them to stand up for a fact-based political discourse; they usually respond by taking the posts down. Because I’m a liberal, though, I don’t feel as though I have any such leverage to challenge conservative distortions. I did reply to some of the early NRCC emails by challenging the veracity of their claims; but, of course, my replies never got any response other than more of the original emails. Since I am unable to stop them or to respond to them, the daily barrage of emails from the NRCC leave me feeling powerless and like a spy trapped behind enemy lines.
Post Script: As I wrote the first draft of this post, my email messages from the NRCC suddenly stopped; I received only one yesterday and none so far today. Is this just a weird coincidence? Is their IT operation so inefficient that it takes more than a month to catch up with unsubscribe requests? I am relieved to be out from under this negative presence in my life. But I’m also glad to have been educated about how the conservative right presents people like me to their faithful supporters.