Raising money is the bread and butter of politics

Work in Progress By Ivan Morgan

I have been accused of being easily amused.

Guilty, I suppose, as charged.

Take this for an example (if you are a dyed-in-the-wool member of a political party this column ain’t for you).

Several years ago, I signed up for all of the federal political parties fundraising e-mails. I get them every week or so. I highly recommend this. It’s free. It’s educational. It gives you a good idea of the political landscape, and it can be funny.

I am going to focus on the big three (Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP). I also signed up for the Greens and the CPC emails, but they have their own problems, and I don’t like picking on people when they’re down.

Reading these e-mails every week makes you wonder about the state of politics in this country. It will also make you wonder what the parties think of you and me.

Each party goes to great lengths to let you know how different, and how much better, they are from the other two, and how good a person you are for supporting them.

The Conservatives focus on what they see as Liberal arrogance and incompetence, blaming them for everything that’s wrong in Canada (and lumping the NDP into the mix as being no different from the Liberals). The Liberal’s message is if the Tories get in that’s the end of Canada. Poilievre is the Great Satan. The NDP pretty much say the same stuff about the Conservatives, but they really emphasize they want to end corporate greed (don’t we all).

Yet despite how different they posture themselves, all three have one thing in common, and this is the point of these e-mails.

They want your money.

Interestingly, all three parties have fundraising drives at roughly the same time, and they all seem to end at the same time. All three use the same language, asking you to “join our team,” “help build momentum,” “our drive is almost over, last chance to donate.”

That’s my favourite – as if they won’t take your cash anytime.

They each develop ways to try and get you on board. The Liberals and NDP have contests, asking you to either offer a design for the “movement” (Liberals) or pick a sticker (NDP). Pick a sticker today, donate tomorrow, vote for them in the future. That’s the plan.

Stickers? What are we, eight?

They offer surveys because “your opinion is important to us.” It isn’t. It’s your money that’s important to them. The surveys are nothing but loaded multiple choice questions like “what’s the most awesome thing about our leader?” “Which of our policies is your favourite?” No room for any real opinion, just tell us how awesome we are and click us a few bucks.

And the e-mails can be funny. Lately the Tories and the Liberals have had a back-and-forth e-mail war. Poilievre started it by sending an e-mail saying the CBC has devolved into little more than a billion-dollar propaganda wing of the Liberal Party, and if elected prime minister he will defund it. 

If his goal was to light up the Liberals, he was successful. The Liberals followed this quickly with an outraged e-mail quoting Poilievre verbatim and calling the Conservatives reckless and irresponsible. The Tories followed suit thanking the Liberals for publicizing their campaign promise. Lots of finger pointing and name-calling. Reminds me of my brother and I when we got in trouble with our mom.

“Yeah? Well, he did this! No I didn’t, but wait ‘til I tell you what Ivan did!” Too funny.

What’s not so funny is you and I out here in the cold trying to figure out who to vote for. This sorry spectacle isn’t helping.

In the 1890’s, Mark Hanna, an American businessman and bagman (fundraiser) for President William McKinley, was quoted as saying, “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”

A century and a half later little has changed. Don’t take my or Hanna’s word for it. Sign up and see for yourself.

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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