Last night I received an official-looking envelope that I initially mistook for a jury duty summons.
It wasn't. It was some weird fake mail from a Republican organization urging me to a) answer a survey designed to confirm the rightness of their agenda and b) send them money.
I don't know where they got my name from. They know my congressional district and my full name and mailing address, so it must have been taken from somewhere official, but since the introductory letter and the survey made it 100% clear they believed "Republicans" and "Conservatives" was a "we" here (and therefore they had no problem screeching a bunch of incendiary things about, you know, the groups I actually identify with), I am sort of alarmed that I have somehow become misidentified as sympathetic to Conservative causes.
So! A lengthy survey begged me to fill it out so Republicans can better represent their constituents, and it was accompanied by a four-page letter full of alarmist phrases, apparently designed to leave me feeling that me and my fellow Real Americans are Under Attack and our very way of life is Threatened, and that giving them my opinion and my money will help save the country from Them. (It's disturbing how often the phrase "take our country back" is uttered without ever naming a From Whom. When pressed, usually the weasel words come out about what "we" must protect: Our Values, Our Children, Our Rights, Our Legacy. Guess what those values are, and whose children they actually want to protect, though? They're not interested in preserving a way of life for me and mine, that's for sure.)
After screaming at me for four pages about how Critical it is that I Save Our Country with my generous donation, I guess the senders of the letter believe they have me primed to answer the survey how they want. I've been pep-talked into feeling like Decent People Like Me are losing a battle against political correctness, forced diversity, unrestricted immigration, high taxes, and hippies who want to take my guns away. What confronts me now is the most laughably biased survey I think I've ever read.
To give you some idea, they start by asking me to declare my political alignment. I am given five flavors of types of Republicans to pick from. At the bottom, I have "Democrat" and "Other." As if it wasn't clear enough who they expect to hear from and which boxes they don't really want to know anything specific about, you then get questions about WHICH of these multiple-choice options you think are the most important (and 90% of them are specific Conservative talking points), questions about whether political correctness is out of control, and intensely biased phrasing on prompts like "Do you believe the national media has a strong bias against all things Donald Trump and Republican and fails to tell America's voters the real facts about Republican policies, principles, goals, and accomplishments?"
They ask me if Obamacare should be fixed or just kicked out entirely. (You know, making it clear that there is no option that doesn't admit it's "broken.")
They announce that vetting can't be controlled from certain terrorist countries and, given that, do I think we should ban immigration from them entirely?
They start a ton of sentences with "Do you agree that" and then ramble about creating jobs, cutting taxes, and making America great, drawing assumed conclusions between their policies and these results, forcing you to say you don't want prosperity or better employment opportunities at all if you disagree with the Republican proposals to achieve them.
They state outright that Obama's term was full of "unconstitutional" legislation and want to know if I agree that these should be canceled because they--and I am not making this up--"destroy freedom."
They put "climate change" in scare quotes while stating as a fact that Democrats' "fixation" on this has created unnecessary regulations that are totally crippling business. They make a STATEMENT out of that, and then ask if I think climate change is a threat.
They bundle an anti-crime statement with a bit about how the law enforcement officers are under attack and experiencing too much violence. That's what they're talking about here when it comes to crime. That the POLICE are at risk. Nothing at all about the major problems with, oh, police murdering black people and not facing consequences typical for murder.
Okay, you know what? Putting aside how laughably transparent this is, how dirty this is, how vile it is that they pretend to want your opinion but are going out of their way to make you answer a certain way . . .
Objectively, these questions are worded horribly if the survey wants to yield honest answers.
I know, I know, they in no way are looking for differing opinions or anything beyond confirmation of their beliefs, which they will not honestly report anyway; they're looking for a way to create solidarity with people who already agree with them (and maybe they'll send money because they feel like they're Helping!), but . . . really?
A child studying bias in middle school could smell the slant on this a mile away.
I mean, if you want to talk about fake news, deliberately programming people to answer a certain way and *not giving them options to answer differently* is NOT ACTUALLY A SURVEY.
This survey is "So, are you a Real one of US? You are, right? We are talking to you assuming you are, and that any Good Person who is With Us agrees with these things, and we want your opinion as long as it's the one we're angling for. Give us money and use your own stamp to tell us 'yes' in all the places we already think yes, confirm that we're right about things, and obliviously bleat Patriotic and Nationalistic phrases with no recognition that our language pressures you to agree with us."
Ugh the crap at the bottom asking for money even has a box for you to check that says "I am enclosing $15 to help pay for the cost of processing my Census document."
Are you serious.
You sent me this pretending you want my opinion but you're going to end the survey shaming me for making you process what I said without paying for the privilege.
Look guys. I know some members of your audience are easily hoodwinked but good lord, you should be embarrassed by this. By how incendiary, how blatantly intolerant, how shamelessly biased this is. I know, I know it's nothing more than a thinly disguised excuse to ask people for money. But please. Don't pretend I was "selected" to voice my opinion and give me no way to do it. Don't squeal about some mythical "us" with a common enemy when you're making caricature villains out of my siblings.
And don't pretend you want to know what I think when this survey is designed to tell me what I should be thinking.