June 26, 2014 at 9:00 am EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Politicians fiddle and beg as the world burns
money, politics, world, gay news, Washington Blade

In the race for campaign money we have accepted the dumbing down of political discourse.

There are days listening to the morning news when you wonder whether the world is going mad or you are.

This morning’s news could have either sent me into a serious depression or because of sensory overload just had me tune out totally. In the first 15 minutes, I was informed that Iraq is falling apart; Afghanistan is a lost cause; the worst drought ever in California has turned it into a tinderbox and will raise food prices across the nation; thousands of children who crossed the border from Mexico are being warehoused in detention centers; Putin is sending troops to the Ukrainian border; and Israel hit nine targets in Syria. To make matters worse, Dick Cheney was being interviewed on what we should do about all this. Seriously, Dick Cheney, the man most responsible for the longest wars in our history based on the false information he peddled to Congress and the world?

Next on my morning agenda was checking emails to find the daily deluge of political candidates and parties asking for money. It would appear that when one gives a donation to anyone even years ago, every person under the sun thinks you would care about their election or cause. Candidates running for commissioner in Los Angeles to someone running for mayor of Timbuktu now have my email address and think a contribution to their campaign is in the offing. They no longer even bother to tell me what they stand for or what the issues are in the places in which they are running. They think because I am gay or once gave to EMILY’s List or some conservation cause that if they mention something having to do with those issues I will automatically send money. They brag about how important they are to the world, suggest that they are either up in the polls and need to stay there; or are down in the polls and need money to get on TV. That alone could be considered a reason to not give as some poor unsuspecting person in their District will then be forced to watch another annoying negative commercial that I helped pay for.

Not one of those fundraising emails mentions anything reported on the news. No one told me what their plans were to fight the rising food costs caused by the California drought. They didn’t explain their plans for dealing with the children in the detention centers in a humanitarian way or what they would do or even say about the travesty that is now Iraq and Syria. They seem to think if they tell me Rosie O’Donnell or some other gay or lesbian icon supports them, that that’s enough to get me to send money. Lately, a lot of Democrats believe quoting Rachel Maddow will make a difference.

In the race for campaign money we have accepted the dumbing down of political discourse. It seems we have forgotten how to talk to voters about the issues of war and peace and how we as a nation can positively impact the world. Not one email request for campaign contributions this year has talked about those issues. It seems that those writing campaign fundraising emails today think everyone reads People magazine and the more famous the name mentioned in the request for money the bigger the response. I guess that must be working as they keep doing it. Then the subject line has to be more outrageous each day to try to get people to open the email before they hit the delete button.

In many ways our politics is topsy-turvy as well as mad. Here in the very progressive District of Columbia we have a Democratic chair of our Council who believes it’s OK to dramatically change tax policy without holding public hearings. He can do that because he isn’t being challenged in his election so he doesn’t have to send out fundraising emails. He has gotten the support of all the main candidates running for mayor from every party to go along with this change on a budget that would make most Republicans in the Congress proud. Instead of putting more money into affordable housing or helping the homeless we are returning money to the wealthy and ensuring that millionaires can pass on up to $5 million of their money to heirs with no local inheritance taxes.

Despite all of that, those of us who care, and there are many, will continue to work on the causes we believe in and support the candidates we think can actually make a difference. But it does seem harder to do that each year.

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