Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dear ___that’s actually a person___ :

if you’re like me (and I’m pretty sure you are), one of the things you hate most about political e-mails is the way they always end with a pitch for money. 

The pitch might be tucked into a mailing that grabs your attention with a provocative subject line, and it may take the form of a little blue “Donate” rectangle at the bottom of a spiel about something else. But it’s always there and it always sucks when you realize you’re being hit on again for money you don’t necessarily have to pay for political purposes you don’t necessarily understand.

That’s why I’ve decided to take a different tack and let you know, up front and right now, that the purpose of this e-mail is to ask you to give as much (or even as little) as you can afford to help get my 2014 campaign for Congress off the ground.

knowI know. Mooching is still mooching, no matter where the pitch falls or how it’s delivered. But if you lend me a few minutes of your time, I think I can explain why I need your help and why I’m hoping you’ll agree to send some tangible support my way.

You may already know how close we came last August to winning the Democratic nomination for Congress: 19 votes close, in fact. What you may not know is that we weren’t under any illusions that, even if we won the nomination, we would somehow magically win the general election in November. That was probably a bridge too far then, and it may still be a little far to cross in 2014.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wage a real campaign to offer the people of Arizona CD-4 an honest choice as we continue to do all the other things that will build a progressive base for the future of western Arizona politics.

And doing that takes money — if only for gas, just to get from one end of the district to another. 

[And in case you haven’t studied a map of CD-4 lately, that’s a huge challenge: We comprise seven Arizona counties and nine state legislative districts, in tracing the bends of the Colorado River from Yuma to the Utah state line, through Yavapai County and the fringes of the Phoenix area down into northern Pinal County.]

Things only get worse, if you look at them that way and stop. Because, according to the Arizona Capitol Times, geography is only one of the problems we face: “With an 18-point voter registration advantage and 27-point voter performance advantage, CD-4 is one of the most reliably Republican districts on Arizona’s new congressional map.”

In fact, that’s why Paul Gosar moved to Prescott last year — to avoid a tough reelection battle against Ann Kirkpatrick in competitive AZ CD-1.

That’s also why “real” Democratic political pros avoid CD-4 like the plague. They seem to believe this: if you can’t win, why even try? 

They seem to forget that, by not trying, they reduce Democratic turnout in other local and statewide races. And that has a real impact for all of us who believe that the small-d democratic process depends on people being offered a choice more meaningful than one that pits a Republican against a Libertarian.

And that’s why I’ve decided to run a campaign again: This time, both to win the nomination and make a substantial dent in the 27-point GOP “performance advantage” in our district by linking up folks, like you and me (and others reading this e-mail) who want to stand up for principled progressive politics in CD-4 and the rest of Arizona.

And I know you’ve heard this next line before but, this time, I swear it’s literally true: I can’t do it without your help.

I’m not sure that you know all that much about my background beyond the race I ran last year, but when I was 9 and the 1968 election was on I was watching when Bobby took that shortcut through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel. So when election night came I borrowed a piece of chalk for the school house and scrawled, “Humphrey/Muskie is our man/ Nixon in the Garbage Can!” just sure the world would heed my warning and I have been warning people about the Republican agenda every since.

As I began putting this e-mail together this morning, I was listening to the old Woody Guthrie song, “This Land Is Your Land.” I’d like to include a verse or two as I conclude this Paean to Progressive Panhandling.

When he wrote the song in 1940, Woody posed a question that’s only become more troubling in its implications in the years since:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing.
That side was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I saw my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking:
Is this land still made for you and me?

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.

I, for one, think this land is still made for you and me, but to hold on to it, we have to fight for it, every election cycle and in every district. And I think you agree that “this land” includes all of CD-4 — from Payson and Prescott to Apache Junction, from Wickenberg and Buckeye to Cottonwood and Quartzsite.

And I think you also agree that there shouldn’t be a “No Trespassing” sign on the U.S. Capitol for candidates who can’t afford the million-dollar dues it takes just to join the "club."

Please join with me to help ensure that our principles and values get a fair hearing in the 2014 campaign debate by contributing whatever you can afford now to build a campaign we can all be proud of.

Please expect more e-mails in the future, and I promise they won't always be about money. Sometimes they'll be about policies and practices and ways you can participate. But if we can't build some sort of a financial base now, there won't be anything to participate in, then.


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