American Elephants


Sorry! Your Politician Does Not Care About You. by The Elephant's Child

The exit polling from the 2012 election showed clearly that people voted for Barack Obama because they believed that “He cares about people like me.” This was closely related to Hurricane Sandy, and I believe the picture of President Obama comforting Donna Vanzant who had just seen her marina totally destroyed, influenced a lot of people. Mr. Obama promised her prompt help from FEMA and that he would make it all better. But she never heard from FEMA, nor from the President, or anybody else.
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The picture, however, went viral.

I hate to bring you bad news, but politicians do not care about you. The better ones care about “the people” in general, but generous donors in particular. They care about the big businesses in their districts, influential people in their party and in the opposition, but we ordinary folk are, at best, merely a statistic. They care about those who are important for some reason, particularly those who have given campaign contributions or are clearly in a position to make a donation, or are important enough to influence others.

Maybe, if you are an activist who seems to have a large number of voters behind you. I know, I know. We’d all like to believe that those in whom we invest so much hope really mean it. You could design an embossed letterhead suggesting that you are an officer in an organization for (or against) your politician’s favorite issues, that might get some attention. Phone calls, at least allow you to talk to a human, however lowly. Visit his/her office in your district with your request or complaint, but sugar catches more flies than vinegar.

It’s nothing personal. They have their big donors and all the members of their delegation, the press (local and national) the members of the committees on which they serve, their opposition, and all the members of the House or the Senate as the case may be to worry about. They don’t know you from Adam, expecting attention is futile. The idea that “I voted for you” and now I expect, at the least, a response to my email, is also futile. Going to every town hall meeting held in your district might improve the situation slightly, but don’t bet on it. They shake a lot of hands, and remember few.

But, your opinions may be tabulated (or not). They need feedback, but there’s no guarantee they will pay attention. But if  you are well-informed and your call or email or letter is short and to the point, it may get through. Even volunteering in their campaign may not help. Your chances are better if your expectations are low, and your determination is very high.

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