On Political Surveys

I receive a lot of political mail. Oftentimes, it’s parties or candidates wanting donations. Last year, during the Presidential primaries, I must’ve received fundraising letters from every major candidate. Most were binned.

The letters I enjoy the most? The ones from the Republican Party or its think tanks.

Take, for instance, yesterday.

I received a letter from John Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cornyn, besides wanting a donation, wants me to answer a survey. “Because it is cost-prohibitive to send a survey to every registered Republican in your area — your answers and those a few other good Republicans will represent the views and opinions of ALL Republicans living in your voting district.”

In point of fact, I am registered as a Democrat in Maryland. It is true, mind you, that I self-identify as “a Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” but that means that, for all practical purposes, I vote for the Democratic candidates for office. Maybe if Republicans ran candidates who actually wanted to do something, rather than run candidates who want to do nothing, then maybe I’ll touch the screen for the Republican. But until the Republican Party realizes that nihilism is not a viable political philosophy, I’ll vote my conscience and vote against the Republican candidates.

Cornyn writes: “Our country has reached a critical juncture. Our economy, homeland security, the War of Terror, education, healthcare, and illegal immigration must be addressed now.” But instead of telling me what Republicans stand for on these issues, he follows this with: “With Democrats in control of the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate… …The only truly effective way for our Party to regain the ability to the shape of the policies coming out of Washington is elect more Republicans to the U.S. Senate in 2010.”

Yes, there is an extra “the” in Cornyn’s sentence. I thought about taking it out. Then decided against it.

Does Cornyn really believe that the only way to influence policy is to elect more Republicans? They could, oh, I dunno, try to be partners in the legislative process. President Obama, in his meeting with House Republicans last week, pointed out areas where the health care reform bills took Republican ideas; indeed, it’s not often remarked upon, but the bill that passed the Senate achieves many of the same goals that a bill proposed by Bob Dole, no Democrat he, in 1992. Unfortunately, if Republicans, like Cornyn, are unwilling to be part of the legislative process, then they’re really at the root of the very political dysfunction they decry.

I’ll answer Cornyn’s survey. I’ve never been called a “grassroots Republican” before. Maybe I should make a sign — oh, something like “Down With This Sort Of Thing,” a general purpose sort of message — and to down to DC one day for a protest.

Careful now.

The other letter? My old friends at the Heritage Foundation!

They’ve sent me surveys before. Like on taxes.

The problem I have with a Heritage Foundation survey is that they don’t do nuance very well. They’re very binary.

Take, for example, the first question — “Do you believe our current tax code needs to be completely overhauled?”

Overhauled… into what? The Heritage Foundation doesn’t say. Now I, for instance, may think that we need a more progressive tax code. More tax brackets, fewer deductions, that sort of thing. Does that count as “complete overhaul”?

I love some of the choices for question ten — “Please check the five issues of most importance to you.” The list has the standards — the economy, taxes, education, health care, energy policy. The last three? “Liberal bias in the media.” “Moral decline in America.” “Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Moral decline? Really?

I won’t enjoy the Heritage Foundation survey as much, I fear. It’s really quite bland.

Both want donations. I don’t see that as being especially likely in either case.

I really do enjoy these surveys.

I’m a grassroots Republican! 😀

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