Impeachment, Inc.

Earlier this week, I mentioned that World Net Daily, home of anti-Obama fulminations, bizarre conspiracy theories, and miracle-drug come-ons, has an "Impeachment Store" that is your one-stop shop for all your impeachment needs. TPM evidently noticed too, because they did a whole story on it the next day. And today, the Washington Examiner has a story explaining how impeachment has become an effective sales—excuse me, organizing—tool for the right. This kind of thing goes back decades to when clever political direct-mail entrepreneurs figured out that once you got the name and address of an angry old conservative couple willing to donate a few bucks to a candidate or a right-wing organization, you could keep milking that cow for years, selling their information again and again and hitting them up for a variety of candidates and causes. It turned out they'd also be susceptible to pitches for all manner of snake oil, and when you put them together on a list with a couple million people just like them, it was like printing money.

As in so many other areas, the rise of the Internet made it more efficient and easier to scale up. Now you can reach your marks with web ads and emails, too, to make sure they buy all the quickie books Regnery can churn out and keep making those donations. Last year, Dick Morris was caught running a scam with the help of Newsmax.com, whereby people would donate to his super PAC thinking they were helping to defeat Barack Obama, but the money ended up going to the bombastic news site and the oleagenous pundit. But without an election coming up for a few years, the ridiculous pipe dream of impeachment has become the vehicle to keep those dollars flowing:

A petition drive to marshal support for defunding Obamacare, Dontfundit.com, is also allowing the conservative political action committee behind the website to collect contact information of one million potential new donors.

Dontfundit.com features and has been aggressively promoted by Republican Sens. Mike Lee, of Utah, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, the ringleaders of the relatively small but influential band of conservatives leading the effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. But the website is run by the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC founded by Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and now under the exclusive control of his former aide, Matt Hoskins.

So far, 880,000 people have visited the website to urge lawmakers to strip all Obamacare funding from the must-pass spending bill they will take up in coming weeks. But clicking "sign the petition," which requires a name and email address, immediately takes visitors to a separate Senate Conservatives Fund website that encourages contributions.

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There are certainly liberals who make money by providing products for other liberals to express themselves. Those "It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber" bumper stickers aren't going to manufacture themselves, after all. And yes, liberal organizations too spend lots of time raising money. But what you don't see on the left is this longstanding, well-organized infrastructure of rube exploitation. For-profit entities like Newsmax and World Net Daily, PACs that seem to exist only to enrich the consultants who run them—these things are much more common on the right. Maybe it's their devotion to capitalism, but conservative businesspeople are particularly adept at taking a political sentiment and weaving it into a pitch for something like gold coins or doomsday prepper paraphernalia. And the media and political figures who can provide validation and a window into those audiences/markets are only too willing to get on board.

Comments

It might be useful for someone progressive publication to write a similar article about how progressive calls for signing online petitions in support of various progressive causes are also little more than some organization trolling for potential donors.

Online petitions have no useful function. A hard-copy petition with an actual signature and real-world mailing address has some kind of validity; the recipients can check to see whether the signers exist, are registered to vote, etc.

With an online petition there is no way to verify anything. People can sign onto them any number of times using any real or fake e-mail addresses they want and it's all good. Anyone working for a government agency, corporation or acting as some other kind of decision maker would be foolish to treat an online petition as an accurate measure of public support for any policy position.

But once one has signed one or more such petitions, the requests for donations start rolling in and never stop.

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