Nick Confessore writes that the Obama re-election campaign is having trouble re-igniting enthusiasm amongst the president’s once-formidable base of small donors.
The disillusionment factor here is a clear issue. But it is worth saying that if you have a modest amount of money to spent on American politics, helping to re-elect an incumbent president isn’t a very smart investment. Non-incumbents running in a primary really need small donors. In part that’s because they need money. In part it’s because they need to demonstrate enthusiasm among activists for their campaign to establish themselves as serious contenters. Incumbents presidents running for re-election have plenty of credibility, plenty of name ID, and plenty of fundraising opportunities. So if you gave money to Obama back in 2007 and don’t feel like doing so again in 2011 that seems to me like a sentiment that would make sense no matter how the president was performing.
The important thing to realize is that nothing ever changed for the better in politics by passionate people deciding they wanted to simply become disgruntled, less involved, and less active. You becoming less active is not going to advance any issues you care about. If there are politicians you donated to in the past and don’t want to support anymore, then find someone else to support. Find a challenger somewhere or a particularly admirable incumbent. Find someone. Write whoever you’re dumping a note and explain your reasons. And recognize that there are more ways to get involved than donating money. Campaigns all rely on plenty of volunteer labor and, again, the marginal value of whatever time you can give is going to be much higher in a lower-profile race than a presidential campaign.