“Look! Shiny things!”
In their quest to demonstrate the “will of the people,” Count My Vote’s Mike Leavitt, former Utah Governor and former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, sent an email announcing Mitt Romney’s support. Waiving the spectre of a scripted interaction by sending a screen shot rather than a press release, (and likely violating Federal “CAN-SPAM” laws), one has to ask:
What is the political strategy behind a screen shot email?
Why would Count My Vote not just send a press release? Does Count My Vote really have the will of the people, or is it a carefully scripted PR stunt?
Utah’s nomination system has real problems. Not enough people feel like they can participate, and not enough of the participants feel satisfied with their experience. It tends to benefit organized activists and older voters who have leisure time and disadvantages younger people, especially with families and jobs.
Count My Vote, driven largely by individuals who had at one point or another lost in the current nomination system (including supporters of Bob Bennett and Olene Walker, both candidates who lost the Republican Party nomination as incumbents), set out to fix those problems, initially promising to work with the GOP, and then, when the GOP would not make the changes to the system Count My Vote wanted, in spite of it.
Meanwhile, Senator Bramble decided to get involved, and proposed a bill that, almost verbatim, adopts all of Count My Votes proposal. As the possibility that Senator Curt Bramble’s proposal, might actually pass, cutting off the oodles of money they has been raising in large chunks of $10,000, $25,000 and $100,000, Count My Vote began rolling out the celebrity endorsements.
“Look! Shiny things!”
Sometime Monday morning, Mike Leavitt sent an email around to the press (and sundry other email addresses) that purported to forward an email from Mitt Romney (yes, the one who Barack Obama soundly beat in 2012 as a snooty, rich guy who has more in common with Downton Abby than with the average American) supporting the effort to end, er, I mean, reform Utah’s nomination system.
What’s fascinating about the email?
No, not that Mitt Romney, one of Utah’s most elite politicians and with a vested interest in making it easier for his son Josh to get elected without having to actually shake a single Republican delegate’s hand.
It’s the little details of the email that make it odd.
1. The squiggly “spelling error” lines under Governor Leavitt’s name. Why? If this is coming out of an email client, such as Gmail, the squiggly should not appear under a name in an address, especially, as “Morning Thoughts” in the subject line implies, the recipient and the sender are familiar and regularly send messages. The squiggly would only appear in a draft document, not an email received and then forwarded.
2. No unsubscribe language. I don’t know Mike Leavitt. But I have met him, shook his hand and had him sign a book for me. But, to my knowledge, we’ve never exchanged emails.
…which places this correspondence clearly in the mass email category regulated by the CAN-SPAM Act and required to contain, within the email, the ability to unsubscribe from future correspondence.
3. Why not just send a press release? The “email” from Romney appears to have been sent on Wednesday, but Leavitt forwards a screenshot? It looks purposely sloppy and ad-hoc. What are they trying to convey? Familiarity?
4. Do we really want Romney and his deep pockets dictating how we select our candidates?
While I would like to see changes to the Utah Caucus/Convention system to select candidates, I don’t think Count My Vote does what you think it does. And this Email is proof of that. The changes CMV wants put too much power into what we have all complained about. The people not having the say they deserve. Corporate donations and big donors get more power than the people who we elect to serve us. We don’t get the access, we don’t get the invitations to the fundraising dinner(s). We get to watch as they make you face palm because they are voting yes on a special interest bill. Or maybe Mitt believed it when he gave of the first gaffes of the 2012 Presidential Campaign; Well all remember when he famously said “…Corporations are people too my friend.”
Corporations and big pocket donors have been some of the largest supporters of Count My Vote. We can’t ignore the vested interest they have by supporting a citizen’s initiative, or helping a candidate to be elected. But do we really want them working to change the process by how the candidates are elected? Utah is already a flyover state when it comes to the national scene. We are known not for our power in selecting the president, and they hardly ever stop here (Unless Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman are picking the pockets of big time donors.)
Utah’s voters should step up and remember they have the power. The power to select their candidates, not big named, out of state donors. I may not agree with many of the candidates we see ending up running for office, but the CMV initiative seems to be flawed. Their supporters seem to be more worried about direct access to primaries than actually having votes counted.