Ten bucks at a time,
my political donations
I donated $58 to the Barack Obama campaign.
In return, I received three bumper stickers, a VoteObama car magnet, and a barrage of email messages thanking me for my support – and asking for more.
I also got this: The re-election of a president who largely shares my values and will, I believe, make the United States and the world outside it a better place.
I have never met Barack Obama, or even seen him in the flesh – and don’t expect to.
But I got more bang for the buck than any of the millionaires and billionaires who pumped far more money into the campaign of Mitt Romney – although their financial backing of some conservative causes on local ballots around the nation may not have been so futile.
Money can buy an election, no doubt. That’s why, a few dollars at a time, I joined millions of other small donors backing Obama. The suggested minimum donation in most of the emailed appeals was $13 – although many had click-on options starting at $10. And by “saving your payment information,” the process would be a lot quicker – and, trusting soul, I let the campaign site have my credit card number.
Not that rich folks weren’t backing Democrats. I’d love to know the statistical breakdown in the money behind the two campaigns, through both reportable direct donations and the hidden money funneled through Super PAC organizations.
My $58 was a droplet in the hurricane of cash that blew well beyond a billion bucks in the cost of the 2012 presidential election.
The emails asking for money landed almost daily in my in-box, the senders varying – campaign officials Jim Messina, Yohannes Abraham, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Rufus Gifford. Sometimes it would be Joe Biden (my favorite email subject line was his one-word “Malarkey”), Michelle Obama, or Barack himself.
At 12:45 this morning, 10 minutes before Romney’s concession speech and about 45 minutes before Obama’s victory speech, I received my last email from the President:
I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.
I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.
You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.
I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.
Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.
There's a lot more work to do.
But for right now: Thank you.
Obama probably didn’t write that message. But I like to think that’s what he would have said – and I hope he keeps the promise, and keeps in touch.