Monday, February 19, 2018
Politics

Hooper: Nothing 'progressive' about these misleading mailers

The other day, a slick, expensive political mailer arrived from a group called Progressive Choice Florida.

The message caught my attention.

Here's what it said (sort of):

Mr. Hooper: We believe you are a dumb African-American voter who can easily be manipulated with misleading facts about gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

As you can see on this flier, we've twisted some statistics and skewed some information to trick you into believing that the former governor is the sole reason why African-Americans make up only 16 percent of Florida's population but 48 percent of Florida's prison inmates.

We're banking on the fact that you will take our word as the Gospel truth without doing any research about what we've presented. We're certain you're one of those ignorant blacks who just go to the poll and vote for whoever has a "D" next to their name.

In sending multiple mailers to your home, our goal is not to convince you to vote for Gov. Rick Scott, who will be Crist's opponent in the November general election if he wins the Democratic primary next month.

Notice how we don't even mention Gov. Scott or the Republican Party on the mailer?

No, our goal is to convince you just to stay home and not vote at all.

You see, we tried to suppress your vote two years ago by using legislative tactics to reduce the number of early-vote days under the guise of "eliminating voter fraud."

But you saw right through that charade and you and your fellow blacks turned out in record numbers to vote for President Barack Obama.

So now, we're taking a different approach. Instead of trying to stop you from voting, we're going to try paint Crist as a Republican wolf in Democratic sheep's clothing.

We'll distort his record with the aim of making you so discouraged you won't vote. Yes, we know this is the third mailer you've received in the last seven days, but we have to make sure stupid guys like you are getting the message.

And here's the best part: We're using the name Progressive Choice Florida to dupe you into believing the fliers come from your Democratic friends.

We could have taken a more conventional approach. We could have touted Gov. Scott's record on jobs or pointed to his other accomplishments as a governor, but come on, we know you and other dumb black Democrats will never vote for Scott.

It doesn't matter how many legitimate arguments we make to guys like you, so we're saving those for the intelligent voters.

For you, we present only subterfuge. Instead of the facts, we're going to try to — how do you guys say it? — get over.

So you may be wondering why we're trying to scam African-American blacks like you. Well, to be honest, we bamboozled the people who funded these mailers, so why shouldn't we try to scam you?

As Tampa Bay Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary reported Sunday, more than $200 million in outside money has poured into Florida elections since the landmark 2010 "Citizens United" decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In our efforts to get a share of all that cash, we cook up these lame ideas about minimizing the black vote and convince our funders they actually can work.

Of course, when the mailers fail, our financial backers aren't left with egg on their face because we never reveal their names to the public. No one wants to admit to being conned and we always find a way to spin our way out of their accusations that our efforts didn't work.

In the end, voters get misled, foolish donors get swindled and we laugh all the way to the bank. That's politics, baby. Or since you're black, maybe we should say, "Holler if you hear me." High five, my brother.

Okay, full disclosure, that's not what the mailer said at all. That's just how it made me feel. And as the late, great poet Maya Angelou once wrote, "… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

That's all I'm saying.

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