How Do We Define Separation of Church and State? Or a Campaign from a Presidency? Or a Not-for-Profit Venture v. The Man? Discuss. No Big Whoop.
You guys know I’m a liberal commie pinko, and you know I voted for Obama. What you might not know is that I’ve developed such an admiration for our new President that it’s bordering on being a crush. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it–respect for an elected official? What is this strange sensation? I think . . . I’m melting. But I think many people feel the same way as I do, and for the most part I think this is a harmless thing. Because I truly believe him to be an upstanding citizen, superior leader, great intellect, and all that hero-worship doohickey.
I’m telling you this because I want to soften the blow of the next sentence. I think Obama might have fucked up. Yeah, I said it. And no, it’s not exactly him, it’s his staff, but that is unimportant. Let me show you what I’m talking about, and then you can tell me what you think. Mr. Right-Click is on the Barack Obama listserv, or mailing list, or whatever you want to call it. I’m not, because I don’t want any more email than I already get (unless it’s from my adoring fans, naturally), and because I hate solicitations even when they come from causes I support. So anyway, yesterday Mr. Right-Click received this email:
From: “David Plouffe, BarackObama.com”
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 16:54:45 -0500
Subject: Where we go from here
To: Mr. Right-Click
Mr. Right-Click —
Please take a few minutes and help shape the future of this movement. Share your campaign experience and your thoughts on the best way to keep supporting our agenda for change: http://my.barackobama.com/whatsnext. The inauguration is just 63 days away, and as President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden prepare to take office, they’ll need your support more than ever.You’ve built an organization in your community and across the country that will continue to work for change — whether it’s by building grassroots support for legislation, backing state and local candidates, or sharing organizing techniques to effect change in your neighborhood. Your hard work built this movement. Now it’s up to you to decide how we move forward. Take this short survey and share your ideas: . Thanks to you, this country has an historic opportunity. Electing Barack was the first big step, but there’s a lot of challenging and important work ahead. Together, we can keep making history,
Obama for America
OK. On the one hand, would you check out the work ethic on these people?! It’s astounding. While some people might be sitting in an oval office with their hands down their pants eating sandwiches–I’m not mentioning any names, this is all hypothetical–these people are like itching around to figure out how to get work done before they’re even on the payroll. I love it. It’s inspiring. So kudos to them for that.
That said. I would never fill out a questionnaire, because I’m too fucking lazy for that. But let’s say I wasn’t. Let’s take a look at the questionnaire. Most of the questions are run-of-the-mill, exit survey type things. Nothing to write home about. [BTW: At present, there are, apparently, so many people filling out this goddamn survey that I was able to go to a spinning class and come back and still keep getting page load errors on the survey all morning. Lemmings.] Here is the question that prompted Mr. Right-Click to bring the questionnaire to my attention:
Mr. Right-Click was a little upset that “the government” was inquiring about his religious practices. At first, I was like, “Honey, they’re just trying to get a feel for who their supporters are. It will help them with their time in office–how they choose what issues to raise, how they fill cabinet positions, and how they plan for a reelection campaign.” Which I think is totally what this is about, and it is what any efficiently run business would do at the end of a successful (or unsuccessful) campaign/venture. BarackObama.com is a business, after all–a not-for-profit venture, to be sure, but structurally much the same as a business. So we cannot fault them for trying to run it efficiently.
But now that Barack Obama is President-Elect, if I fill out this information, whether anonymously or with my name attached, am I not telling The Government all about my life? And even if The Government that is running the survey appears to be a benign entity (to me) at present, do I want them having this information on me at their fingertips? Where will it go? Why does The Government need to know how much money I make? Don’t they get that info from the tax returns I file? Cannot somebody just look it up? What difference does it make if I go to church?
I’m pretty confident that there is nothing wrong, legally speaking, with this questionnaire. But it troubles me for reasons I’m having difficulty articulating. The right to privacy is something that is important to maintain, even if people are prone at present, due to the overwhelming feel-good warm fuzzies predominant among Obama supporters, to give it up. I don’t see a lot of good coming from this–or, rather, the potential for good seems to be heavily outweighed by the potential for bad.
What do you people think? Did you fill out the survey? Would you?