The Audacity of E-mail
Dear Mr. President-elect, please take me off your spam list.
Dear Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, David Plouffe, John Kerry, Al Gore, et al.:
First, I want to congratulate you on last week's astounding victory. I also want to take a moment to thank each of you for the many, many thoughtful and informative communications you have sent me over the weeks and months of this historic campaign. Each e-mail was like a precious gift, except that unlike a gift, each e-mail came with a request for cash.
But you know, that was OK. You were, after all, working toward a momentous goal, and I was happy to be asked to help you get there (particularly since my employer wouldn't allow me to give you money, anyhow). We climbed this mountain together, you and I, and your bulletins from the trenches never failed to set my heart to pounding: They're calling Obama a terrorist. My $50 will get them to stop! Sarah Palin thinks there are real and faux Americans. One hundred dollars from me, and she will go away! "Will you watch our response ad and make a donation of $100 or more to help us keep it on the air?" Just $25 for a limited edition car magnet, $75 for a commemorative coin, $100 for a backstage pass to Grant Park!
And, Barack. When you wrote to me on election night to tell me you were "about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there" but were taking a moment to write to me first—well, I was so touched I almost didn't notice the little "donate now" button at the bottom of the page. Also, I have to admit that in the six days between the election and yesterday morning, I even came to miss my near-daily missives from each of you, updating me, flattering me, promising me great things and then shaking me down, just as a very kind, attentive, loving parent might do if, say, you owed him a lot of money.
But imagine my dismay yesterday when I opened my inbox to discover an e-mail entitled "Your Victory T-Shirt." Instead of a free victory T-shirt, I was being offered the chance to send yet another $100 to the DNC (in exchange for which I would, in all fairness, receive a free "victory T-shirt"). It's hard to explain why it's so galling to be asked to donate yet more money to a campaign after the election has been decided. It's sort of like being asked to keep planting the victory garden, years after Armistice Day. Even having achieved the presidency, Barack Obama is still counting on little old me for financial help? What's next? Dear Dahlia, Joe Biden and I have a bunch of great ideas for fixing government. And with your $100 donation, we can ensure that the S-Chip is fully funded and that the spotted owl remains on the endangered-species list. Please watch this video and consider a contribution.
America's unprecedented showing of financial and emotional support helped the Obama campaign win the Oval Office. It was a beautiful thing. And I really am going to miss seeing "Barack Obama" in my inbox three times a day. But it's high time for us voters to get back to panicking about our 401(k)s. So please stop e-mailing to ask for money. You're president-elect now, Barack. Consider yourself cut-off.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.