Politician Speak with Forked Tongue: Or, The Electorate and The Donorate September 24, 2012
Peter Beinart in the Daily Beast speaks of the desirability of having the press crash fundraisers. In today’s American political world, people seeking elected offices have two audiences, the electorate and the donorate; and in many ways, the donorate [or, as I would like to call them, the donorcracy] is more important than the electorate, because they make it possible for politicians to reach the electorate. And, it is the donorate whom candidates see face to face, unless [like me] the donors wish to avoid that, which most do not. I do not have a solution for this. But, as we discovered with the recent exposure of Romney’s notorious ’47 per cent’ speech [which I will deal with in another post], candidates give one message to the donorate and another to the electorate. And I have a hunch it’s not just Republicans. Both parties are now dependent on a donorate. Now that we have this dual system, why are we not polling the donorate with the same enthusiasm that we poll the electorate? Why is Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight not tracking the donorate?
It is important to remember that there are small donors in politics; and they have been important in several periods of recent history. They are communicated with by e-mail, and formerly by so-called ‘direct mail’; the general point of these messages is thank you for your last gift, but your holy cause is on the knife edge and needs a lot more of your money in the next 60 minutes or so [they are never that clear about exactly when]. Certain phrases are used because they get more money out of the small donors; the writers of these communications remind me of the lab rat who told his girl friend, “I think I have the Professor conditioned, because every time I go through the maze and ring the bell he gives me food!” It is the small donors who have conditioned and manipulated them, as well as the other way around.
But small donors do not dominate the scene except on some specific issues. They are not part of the ‘donorate’ as I call it. To be part of the ‘donorate’, you must give enough so that the candidate would notice you and wish to converse with you personally. Whether you wish to converse with him or not is not the point, though if you don’t take time to [and if you’re in the real donorate, your time is more valuable than your money] you are, I suppose, a member of the inactive or reclusive donorate; from what I can tell, not a large group.