The warning on the envelope — in fact the only words on the envelope — made it impossible not to open the envelope. Oh, I’m wise to the ways of misleading envelopes, but there are some you just have to open.
“Do Not Destroy,” this one said. “Official Document.”
Turns out it was a census form. No, not the kind you get every 10 years from nosy feds who want to know how many people live with you and your shoe size. This was the “2015 Congressional District Census.” Maybe you know about this kind of census. I did not.
“Dear Mr. Herman,” it said. “Preparing for the 2016 Presidential Election is going to take a massive grassroots effort all across America. That is why as chairman of the Republican National Committee I have authorized our 2015 Census of every congressional district in the country to begin immediately.”
In the letter, RNC Chair Reince Priebus enclosed my “official 2015 Congressional District Census document registered code #J15PM033 in your name as a representative of your area.” Turns out the form I got “is one of the select few being mailed into Texas’ 10th Congressional District.”
It’s about time somebody recognized that I’m representative of my area.
At this point I have two requests of you: I trust I can trust you with my double-secret registered code number. Please don’t go Trump on me and share it with the world. Second, please let me know if you or any of your loved ones also are among “the select few” selected in the 10th Congressional District. That’s the one represented by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul.
“Mr. Herman,” the letter continued, “because of your high level of political involvement, your personal input on the questions presented in your census document is crucial to our nation’s future.”
My “high level of political involvement” is about as low as it can be without participating at all. For many years, out of an abundance of caution about declaring an allegiance to a political party, I voted only in general elections. When I became a columnist paid to express opinions in print, I started voting in primaries, which, in Texas, are the only statewide elections that matter. And wanting to vote in the only primary that matters I’ve been voting in the GOP primary.
I’m guessing that’s what got me on the GOP census list which really is just a flimsy cover for a fundraising effort.
“So please, act now to complete your 2015 Congressional District Census and do your best to get it back to me at RNC headquarters by August 17,” Priebus told me.
I’m undecided on whether I will. But I am decided on his next request: negatory.
“At the same time, please include a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or whatever you can send to help underwrite the costs of this essential project and enable us to strengthen our grassroots operation and better deliver our message to all Americans as we fight to win the White House and other campaigns all the day down the ballot,” Priebus wrote.
“Mr. Herman,” he told me, “we cannot succeed, nor can our party prevail over the challenges we will face from Barack Obama’s and the Democrats’ ongoing efforts to divide and destroy our great nation without the support of dedicated individuals, like you.”
I’m flattered. And I’m sure all Republicans are happy about my new position as key adviser to the GOP. And it may come as a surprise to Democrats who apparently also count me as one of their own.
“It’s time to get on board, Kenneth,” said a recent email to me from the Democratic Governors Association. “We’ve got plans set and teams in motion to fight for Democratic victory in every key battleground this year and take the White House in 2016. But to do it we need top Dems like you committed to fighting with us.”
In that e-mail the Dems asked for only five bucks.
In a postscript to his letter, GOP Chair Priebus reminded me that I’m on the “frontline of the battle to shape Republican priorities for our nation” and that it would be nice if I could return the census form “with a generous contribution … in the enclosed envelope.”
At this point, it looks like Donald Trump might be the GOP nominee. Me giving money to help a bazillionaire seeking a government job seems like money flowing in the wrong direction. On the other hand, more than any other GOP contender, he actually might benefit from my advice.