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Republican 2010 Congressional District 'Census'

Republican ElephantAs far as party affiliation goes, I'm an independent who usually votes Democratic, but not exclusively. I've never voted a straight Democratic ticket. I always try to look at individual candidates to decide who to vote for. It's just that more often than not, the Democratic candidates match my views more closely than the Republicans (and I'm not about to throw my vote away on a third party candidate). In the last primary, it was actually a Republican race that I was most concerned with, so I voted in the Republican primary. Ever since I've been getting phone calls and junk mail from the Grand Old Party.

One of the bits of junk mail was a '2010 Congressional District Census'. If you want to see the actual cover letter and survey, I've made it available as a pdf here, but I've put the worst parts into the entry below.

Now, I can certainly understand a party wanting to know what its members think about political issues, but the way this survey was worded made it seem that it was more propaganda than a sincere attempt at understanding voters' views.

Let's start off with the name of the survey - '2010 Congressional District Census'. Was there really a reason to call this survey a 'census'? This seems a bit deceptive, playing on the current national census to try to get more people to look at this survey.

There was a cover letter accompanying the survey. The letter made it clear that this wasn't really sincere. One of the paragraphs read:

Because of your high level of political involvement and steadfast commitment to the Republican Party, your personal input on the questions presented in your Census Document is critical to our Party's future.

My 'steadfast commitment to the Republican Party'? Really? I know it's a secret ballot, so they don't know who I vote for in the elections, but I've never donated any money to the party nor volunteered at any Republican events, and this was the first time I've ever voted in a Republican primary. If that's steadfast commitment, I wonder how little affiliation you have to have for them to consider you an outsider.

There was also a bit of hyperbole that I'd expect from a political party.

Your completing and returning this Census today is central to our Party's ability to devise a winning Republican strategy in your area - especially as we take on the Democrats in the fight for the future of our nation. [emphasis mine]

Seems a bit over the top. I also find it a bit odd that they capitalized 'our Party', but not 'our nation'. In fact, the capitalization of 'Party' was consistent throughout the letter, so it wasn't just a typo.

Another section of the cover letter also seemed pretty slanted.

Barack Obama was barely in the White House a month when he dropped all pretense of "hope" and "change" and laid bare his real agenda of massive tax increases, government-run health care, amnesty for illegal aliens, and bigger, more intrusive government.

Okay, I've covered this before, but it bears repeating. Taxes haven't changed much under Obama. For many people, they were actually decreased, and for others, they've only increased slightly. For the most part, they're still lower than they were in the Reagan era.

And did the RNC really pay so little attention to Obama's campaigning that they didn't expect him to go after health care reform? Following up on campaign promises is pretty much the opposite of dropping all pretense.

The cover letter was only three pages long, but three times I was asked to give "a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or even $500 in the enclosed postage-paid envelope." (Actually, the wording was slightly different each of the three times, but not by much.) So, it makes me wonder, just how much is the RNC really interested in my views, and how much are they just trying to get me worked up enough that I'll send them a donation?

Once I got to the 'census' itself, the wording definitely made me question their motives.

One question was, "From what media source do you regularly receive your political views?" But the options they gave were a bit limited. For TV, there was one box for 'NBC/CBS/ABC', another for 'CNN/MSNBC', and a third for 'Fox News'. For radio, there was only 'Radio', as if there's less variety on radio than there is on TV. If you're really interested in voter patterns, wouldn't you want to know if voters were listening to NPR vs. Rush Limbaugh?

Another question read, "Which political party do you feel is best able to handle each of the following issues?" It then had a list of issues (war, taxes, etc.) for which you could check off 'Republican', 'Democrat', or 'No Opinion' (what, no Libertarians or Tea Party Patriots?). The last one, though, was 'Protecting Traditional Values'. Now tell me, how is this a political issue? Are they honestly asking if people want the government to pass laws enforcing a strong work ethic, or not letting kids go on dates without chaperones, or outlawing miniskirts? How is it up to a political party to defend 'traditional values' unless you favor an intrusive government that takes away personal freedom? (Oh, I know what they really mean by traditional values, but if you think in plain English and not political speech, it sounds pretty silly.)

This following question was pretty bad.

Do you believe the huge, costly Democrat-passed stimulus bill has been effective in creating jobs or stimulating America's economy?

No hint of bias there, huh? But the question immediately following it was even worse.

Do you thick the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for our nation?

If you're calling it 'out-of-control' right in the question, why are you even bothering to ask? For an actual answer, just look at the deficit spending in WWII that got the U.S. out of the Great Depression (which as a percentage of GDP was higher than the current deficit).

One of the biggest problems I currently have with the Republican party is their anti-science stance. Consider this question from the survey.

Do you believe that global warming is an issue that must be dealt with immediately?

Of course it is. There's really no point in even asking that question. If you're really concerned with solving our nation's problems, a better question might have been, 'Do you think a cap and trade system is an effective method of dealing with global warming without excessive impact on the economy?' Global warming is definitely happening, and we can be pretty sure that humans are causing it. The questions politicians should be asking are how to address it.

Here's another of their misleading questions.

Do you believe the Obama Administration is right in dramatically scaling back our nation's military?

Of course people would be upset if the administration 'dramatically' scaled back the military. But that hasn't happened. Obama proposed shifting funding from certain programs to certain other programs, but the overall military budget has stayed largely the same.

There was also a bit of fear mongering.

Do you trust the Democrats to take all steps necessary to keep our nation secure in this age where terrorists could strike our country at any moment? [emphasis mine]

Was that part that I italicized really necessary?

And then, a question that just doesn't really have a good answer.

Do you favor or oppose the Obama Administration's non-confrontational policies in dealing with radical leaders such as those now in control in Iran, North Korea and other countries?

Because we didn't learn our lesson in Iraq. Is the RNC seriously asking voters if they favor additional wars while we're still involved in Iraq & Afghanistan?

On the back of the survery, there was one more request for money, just in case you missed it the three times in the cover letter.

Enclosed please find my most generous contribution of: _$500 _$250 _$100 _$50 _$25 _Other $_______

So, after reading the whole survey, I think it's pretty clear what the Republican National Commitee was really up to. This isn't the way you pose questions if you want honest answers. This is how you pose questions if you want to play on peoples' emotions.

I have a bit of adivce to the leaders of the RNC*. If you want to win over independent voters like me, quit sending us propaganda meant to drum up your party faithful. Send us clear, rational, evidence based reasons for why we should support your party. When the RNC itself starts sending me letters of dubious accuracy that I'd normally expect in my Inbox after a long chain of forwards, it makes me question even more just what the Republicans stand for.

* This advice may apply equally to the Democrats, but I wouldn't know - they've never sent me any junk mail.

I'm not the first person to notice how biased and misleading this survey is.

Added 2010-05-05 - Looking through the survey, I saw another question that caught my eye.

If you vote in the 2010 elections, are you more likely to vote for the Republican or Democrat candidate?

First of all, 'Democrat' is a noun, not an adjective. When you say 'Democrat candidate' instead of 'Democratic candidate', it makes you sound uneducated. I would rather that the politicians representing me were educated.

I was also struck that they asked if I was more likely to vote for 'the ... candidate'. Is there only one race in 2010? Maybe that one's just a typo.

At least for this question, they gave an option of 'Other' in addition to 'Republican', 'Democrat', and 'Unsure'.

Updated 2010-05-05 - I moved the link to the pdf to the beginning of the entry.


democrat is correct.look it up.democratic is an adjective.the Democrat candidate may in fact be democratic but so can the Republican candidate

Well, I did look it up (http://us-parties.suite101.com/article.cfm/democratic_vs_democrat). I didn't realize how much partisan bickering there was over the term. I just pointed it out because it didn't sound right to me. Anyway, here's my take. 'Democratic' is an adjective, as you've said. That's why I'd think the preferred usage would be 'Democratic candidate', because 'Democratic' is the adjective describing what type of candidate it is. Just like it's not the 'Democrat Party', but the 'Democratic Party'. 'Republican' is both adjective and noun, so it sounds fine to say 'Republican candidate'.

I know that in English, it is acceptable to use nouns as adjectives, but I always thought that was done when there wasn't an appropriate adjective to use as an alternative (i.e. 'Ford trucks' and 'Chevy trucks', because there aren't any other adjectives for 'Ford' or 'Chevy', but 'American president' as opposed to 'America president', because 'American' is the appropriate adjective to describe something having to do with America). Look at it this way. If there were a doctor and an engineer running for office, would you call them the 'doctor candidate' and 'engineer candidate'? That sounds odd to me. I think I'd say the 'candidate who's a doctor', and the 'candidate who's an engineer'.

Oh well, language gets defined by however people use it. The rules of grammar are descriptive, not prescriptive. If enough people start saying 'Democrat candiate', then I suppose it will become the right way to say it (just like it's now accepted to say 'helped' instead of 'holp' - http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071010/full/news.2007.152.html, and like it's now accepted to say 'you' in place of 'thou', 'thee', and 'ye').

Anyway, I'm glad you've been reading the blog.

I know this is an older blog post, but I feel like commenting anyway. My mom received one of these in the mail. She showed it to me in an attempt to prove that the Republicans actually care about how their supporters feel about certain issues. I read through the "survey" and I couldn't get passed the first few questions without stopping to point out that it wasn't a real survey designed to find out how their constituents really felt. I was in the middle of taking a statistics class and one of my major projects was to create a survey. I had to submit about five different question forms to the professor before it was deemed acceptable. It's very hard to write unbiased questions, even when you want to be unbiased. I had to explain to my mom that this survey was obviously just a way to spread Republican propaganda and get her angry/emotional about issues (many of which in the survey were not even real issues) in the hopes that she would send them some money. By the way the questions were so obviously slanted, they didn't care what her opinion was, they only wanted her money.
Her response was that the Democrats do it too. I told her I've never received anything from the Democratic party that resembled a fake census form with a slanted survey attached.

Yeah, I'm getting tired of this 'both parties do it' excuse when I get into political discussions. If you've got the time, I've written about it a couple other times in relation to chain e-mails and, just recently, violent political rhetoric. And if you've really got some spare time, you can read just how crazy the Republican party platform is here in Texas - Part I and Part II.

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