Social media only making partisanship worse

  • Saturday, July 3, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

With President Biden’s term nearing the six-month mark, the Republican National Committee sent out a “Biden Report Card”—a poll in which his performance is graded from A to F.

The RNC email begins, “Friend, Let’s be clear. Joe Biden is a FAILURE.” It goes on: “Biden is out of touch and out of control, which is why we’re turning to YOU to get your unfiltered opinion on Biden’s performance by completing the Official Biden Report Card.” I have no idea what the “results” were, but the set-up seemed certain to create a real nail-biter.

The next day the Democratic Governors Association sent an email with a banner that flashed in bright red and white, URGENT POLL. The message read, “Tell us before midnight: Do you approve of Biden and Harris?” The voting options were “yes” and “no”—and, just to make it more scientific, the word yes was on a red button while no was on pale gray.

Nonstop campaigning isn’t new, it’s a sad fact of politics. What’s changing is intensity and relentless messaging.

Modern media, both professional and social, were supposed to create a better informed electorate and a rich diversity of political opinion. Instead, our tools are used to build barriers. Email is worst. At least when campaigning via regular mail or with paid ads in print and on television, out-of-pocket costs force some limits.

Political emails are ridiculously rigid: Even 42 months before the next presidential election there is no middle ground, no semblance of open-mindedness. As an experiment, I submitted contrary votes in both “polls,” giving President Biden an “A” in the RNC survey and a “No” in the Democratic poll. It didn’t matter. Both of my votes opened pages that pushed toward the same pre-determined conclusions.

“Are you concerned that Donald Trump will run for president again?” was the follow-up query in the Democrats’ Biden poll. “Will you invest $100 to help Democratic governors stop Trump’s hateful agenda?”

The Republican survey wasted little time getting to its point: “Please contribute any amount right now to directly fund our efforts to defeat Biden!” (Remember, I had just voted to give Joe Biden the highest possible grade.) The suggested donations were $45 to $2,900.

A simple course for those of us who hate this email nonsense would be to “unsubscribe.” But concerned voters understandably want to hear what their party has to say. I don’t want to cut off my nose just to stop the stink of foolish emails.

Both parties shamelessly use whatever hook they can find to ask for personal information and money. “You may not know me yet,” began an email from Marie Boyd, “but you do know my husband, DNC chair Jamie Harrison, which is why I have a special request for you. Jamie is so fired up about this grassroots team and the future of the Democratic Party—so I want to surprise him with a card signed by incredible supporters like you this Father’s Day.”

I discovered that the digital card for Harrison could not be submitted without my cell number. Really? And, of course, the message contained a request for money—with $2,000 among the suggested sums.

Just a few days earlier, a GOP email solicited signatures on “President Trump’s ONLY surprise birthday card.” This pitch also asked for a phone number, as well as an email address and, of course, a donation of up to $2,900.

Political emails are giving spam a bad name. And relentless offseason badgering for cash undoubtedly leaves many civic-minded citizens with headaches.

The Democrats’ email containing the Biden approval poll said its purpose was to help “heal our democracy.” Reading bogus surveys and email blather from both parties, I have to say healing is not what comes to mind.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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