Recently on Twitter, the Obama and White House pages ran what it called the "$40 dollars campaign." It gained popularity under the hashtag #40dollars. See these screenshots:
I had to read it a couple times: "What would $40 LESS a paycheck mean to you?" Is this a threat?
The White House Twitter page put up this question and people would respond with things like, "it would mean one less tank of gas," or "less vegetables in our weekly trip to the grocery store" and then the White House page would re-tweet this to everyone.
Why does this upset me? This came from our president and the White House. This is not how democracy works.
When I saw the Twitter feeds above I pictured people standing below a monarch with their hands out. The monarch is standing on a balcony asking these subjects what they would do if he removed a few coins from their pay (yes, I know Obama doesn't directly give tax cuts, nor does he take them away), and the loyal subjects beg and plead for him not to while pledging their allegiance to the king. How is this any different from the screen shots above? Instead of a balcony, the White House is shouting this through Twitter. Instead of shouting praise back up to the king on his balcony, the subjects are tweeting their answers back (many of the responses that said "it would mean an extra tank of gas" also included "thank you so much Mr. President" and praises of the like). To me, this is absolutely disgusting. I'm not cold and heartless to the hardships of Americans; this disgusts me because of how the Obama is now campaigning.
This isn't the first time he has done this, by the way: http://loudmouthelephant.blogspot.com/2011/12/democracy-no-longer-exists-when.html
People might say, "what is so bad about this?" Seriously!? First, it's an election year. Barack Obama is fighting to get reelected. Is it appropriate for the leader of our country to offer cash for votes? Sure, it doesn't explicitly say, "if you vote for me, I will give you $40 per paycheck" - that would be a bribe... but mass communicating "what would you do.... how would you squirm if you had $40 per paycheck taken from you?" Come on! This is a fear-mongering proposition, is it not?
Secondly, this is about power. We now have a president who is using scare tactics to garner votes. This is a scary way to control people to stay in power. Does anyone really think people who are in need will vote against the hand that feeds them? Do you think someone who has a tight gas budget each month will vote against the president when the president pledges to be the one that prevents their gas budget from increasing? Do you think someone who pays virtually little to no taxes will vote against a president that says he will keep their taxes the way they are while making the rich pay for them? Absolutely not.
The power in the White House, to me, is scary. We have already seen examples of how the president pushes for discriminatory measures that help some and not others (auto bailouts, but no bailouts for Kodak or American Airlines is an example). Now the president makes it appear like he is directly saving people from further financial hardship. Does he really think these people won't vote for him? Of course not. He absolutely knows that he can grab some votes with this type of campaign. Again, he isn't directly saying, "if you vote for me, I will give you $40" but he is a smart guy. He knows how to work it. He made grandiose promises of fixing the economy in 4 years and reducing the unemployment rate to below 8% by the end of 2010 and we all fell for it. He promised to halve the yearly deficit in four years and we fell for that, too. This is just the same gig. It is the same "I promise this, and I promise that." It's campaign 2.0, but this time, it employs some serious fear mongering. Is democracy supposed to be a system where the biggest promise maker holds the power? I would rather have the president directly come out and say, "yes, vote for me... I will flat out give you money!" At least it would be right in our faces where we could smell it.
To me, this is a complete perversion of democracy. I can't imagine our Founding Fathers tried to set up a government by the people and for the people where a person can get elected by promising the voters more money in their paychecks. Though I and this blog do not yet endorse any one GOP candidate, and I think all the candidates are good, Constitution-loving conservatives, I would really like to hear a Ron Paul supporter's take on this.
Please share your opinions below. Thank you.