I’m surprised that Ben Smith’s scoop at Politico hasn’t garnered more attention. It reports on the contents of a confidential Republican National Committee fund-raising document — here is an excerpt from the piece:
The most unusual section of the presentation is a set of six slides headed “RNC Marketing 101.” The presentation divides fundraising into two traditional categories, direct marketing and major donors, and lays out the details of how to approach each group.
The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.”
Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.”
Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”
The slide also allows that donors may have more honorable motives, including “Patriotic Duty.”
As I note in a reaction now posted at The Daily Beast, this is the most telling revelation about how political elites think about voters since candidate Barack Obama’s comments about rural economic losers who cling to their guns and religion. Even so, the news is so unsurprising — of course this is how the RNC operates — that writing about it violates what Jay Rosen calls the church of savvy. For example, note this comment at The Daily Beast: “None of this surprises me in the least,” Rick Goldin says. “But the press will pounce on this ‘revelation’ (as if no one knew this was the strategy all along) and wear it out for the rest of this news cycle.”
This attitude is so frustrating. Yes, the story confirms something rather obvious to many of us — that the infrastructure of our political parties are run by a bunch of deliberately deceitful cynics whose actions are motivated by wrongheaded principles at best. Allegations like these, however, require evidence, and when it is presented by reporters it shouldn’t be ignored because it is supposedly obvious. Surely there are RNC donors out there who are quite surprised by this information! That’s one problem with the church of the savvy — its implicit assumption is that news should be written for other information junkies, as opposed to an ever-changing audience that ranges from occasionally informed citizen to Marc Ambinder.
All that said, here’s the beginning of my take:
The scoop is bad news for those of us who seek an alternative to President Obama’s domestic agenda: negative campaigns yield neither policy ideas nor a mandate to implement them, even when they are successful.
But certain pages from the controversial document may prove surprisingly helpful to conservative reformers and tea partiers alike, insofar as they confirm accurate critiques of the Republican establishment in Washington DC. These excerpts show that the RNC misleads its donors, ensconces itself in the trappings of the cultural elite, and treats the conservative base with striking condescension…
The lesson for folks on the right who make political contributions: give to a particular candidate, a trustworthy advocacy organization, or a specific cause in which you believe.
And starve the RNC.
As I note later, “Political parties can be useful guides for citizens who haven’t enough time or understanding to make independent judgments about every candidate or issue. Be that as it may, political donors unable to find a worthier organization than the RNC or the DNC are better off accepting that they’re insufficiently knowledgeable to contribute anywhere without getting hoodwinked. Why willingly fund the people most adept at deliberately exploiting your ignorance?”