One of the many services we provide here at FutureOfCapitalism.com is keeping readers informed about political direct mail campaigns. Two from Senate Republicans were covered earlier here, and one immigrant-bashing one from the Heritage Foundation was covered here. Direct mail gets less attention than television commercials or newspaper op-ed articles do because it often happens below the radar. It's hard to link to, and reporters may not even get the letters in the mail if they aren't on the lists. But it can be illuminating nonetheless, which is why we try to keep an eye on it. The latest example is from the Republican National Committee. It's problematic for three reasons. First, it uses the word "census" repeatedly to convey the false impression that it is a government document. "DO NOT DESTROY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT," the envelope says. Inside, the letterhead says "2010 Congressional District Census" and includes a survey with faux-official language like "Census Tracking Code" and "Census Certification and Reply" and "Census Document." The text of the letter includes a sentence that says "And when you send back your completed Census, I urge you to also demonstrate your commitment to the Republican Party by including a generous donation of $25, $50, $100, $250 -- or even $500." All this could easily dupe an unsuspecting target into thinking, incorrectly, that it was part of the real 2010 government census.
The second objectionable part of the mailing, in my view, is the anti-immigrant message. "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," says the letter from RNC chairman Michael Steele included in the "official document." Mr. Steele's letter doesn't mention that Republican President Reagan himself signed the 1986 immigration law with legalization provisions that the anti-immigrant types call amnesty, saying, "We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans." It also doesn't mention that a path to legalization for illegal immigrants was an important part of the winning campaign platform of the most recent two-term Republican president, George W. Bush. The "census document" includes two immigration questions -- as many as are devoted to the issues of health care and energy. One asks, "Do you support the Obama Administration's efforts to grant amnesty and American citizenship to illegal immigrants presently living within our borders?"
The third objectionable part of the mailing is its assuption about the addressee. "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," Mr. Steele's letter says. I'm actually a registered independent, so the language about "steadfast commitment to the Republican Party" is just weird.
I have calls in to the acting head of media relations for the Decennial U.S. Census -- the real one, not the fake Republican one, and to the Republican National Committee, and will update this post if they comment.
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