The weekly mail has delivered to me a mystery. My desk was already littered with pleas for donations from about a dozen environmental organizations- always accompanied by petitions to Congress to stop strip mining, clear cutting and oil drilling in public wilderness areas. It’s a good tactic. Of course I’ll sign the petitions. Who wouldn’t be swayed to stop recent attempts by the Administration to roll back environmental protections we thought were firmly in place? After all, nothing is forever but extinction.
The signed petitions are to be mailed, not directly to our representatives, but to the organization, along with a generous donation that will help them save the spirit bear, the caribou, the ancient redwoods, historic wetlands, wild rivers churning with spawning salmon, the painted desert, wolves, tigers and marine mammals. I’m tempted to try, but I can’t save them all. Given a choice, I tend to think saving predators is more important for a balanced ecology. They have fewer offspring, take longer to mature and require larger habitat. They keep the rodent populations in check. Let’s face it-kangaroo rats are hard to love, endangered though they may be.
Anyway, as I’m sifting through the petitions, I come upon an envelope that surely wasn’t meant for me. It is from the Republican National Committee. It is a Census Document Questionnaire. It has a registration number, a voting district code, and it does, in fact, have my name on it. Not exactly the way it appears on the registrar’s list, where it does not appear next to the word Republican.
Before chucking it in the dustbin, I can’t resist a peak at the questions. There are four on Domestic Security, four on International Security, four on Education Issues, two on Social Issues, three on Defense Issues, and one asking from what source I receive most of my news and political information. I can’t resist checking PBS, NPR, CNN and the daily newspaper. This is not what they want to hear, but they did ask.
These questions all contain the kind of loaded language designed to produce affirmative responses they can use as polling results supporting Republican positions. The way the questions are worded, there’s no way to answer yes or no. For instance: “Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?” Well, sure, but what initiatives would those be? Do they include drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge? Do they include strip-searching my 2-year-old granddaughter at the airport? Do they include tearing up the Freedom of Information Act? Then I think not.
“Should we take the next step in welfare reform through faith-based programs?” Well, faith-based organizations are already filling the gaps in government programs. But should taxpayers fund them? Probably not. Would this get the federal government off the hook for welfare and other social programs? They don’t say.
I can’t resist filling out the paper checking all the negative boxes, and asking why there isn’t a mention about environmental policy, or energy policy?
The last question is the clincher. “Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?” Well, no. If not, will you enclose $11 to cover the cost of tabulating your survey? Guess again.
I still can’t get over the incongruity of this piece of propaganda arriving in the same post with surveys from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Planned Parenthood.
It is ludicrous. Is this another failure of our intelligence agencies? I suppose there’s some solace in the realization they haven’t a clue that I have no affiliation with their party.
Instead of paying them to tabulate my survey, I think I’ll send my support to the National Resources Defense Counsel. Maybe I’ll renew my subscriptions to The Progressive (at least they carry Molly Ivins’ column), The Nation and The Washington Spectator. And KCET surely deserves something for airing Bill Moyers’ new program, “Now.” Even my Republican daughter said Moyers’ segment on the Middle East last Friday answered all kinds of questions she hadn’t even heard asked before. Now that’s something worth supporting.