The first problem was that the letter writers didn't seem to have a good handle on what sorts of things might convince those in Clark County to vote for Kerry. Here's one excerpt from such a letter, by a "Professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University":
Now that all other justifications for the war are known to be lies, the warmongers are thrown back on one, endlessly repeated: the world is a better place without Saddam. No doubt it is. But that's the Tony Martin school of foreign policy [Martin was a householder who shot dead a burglar who had broken into his house in 1999]. It's not how civilised countries, who follow the rule of law, behave. The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt. The proper way to get rid of that smirking gunslinger is to vote him out.For someone who's into public understanding, it's stunning that he doesn't understand that folks in Clark County have never heard of Tony Martin and that the odds are good that the letter's recipient may well believe in the right to defend one's home from intruders. Europeans are always claiming that Americans know nothing about Europe. The ignorance is mutual, I guess.
Or how about this excerpt, written by editor of "the Muslim lifestyle magazine emel":
I can see that you must be furious at the way the current administration has not only catapulted the US into a state of social decline, but has plunged your great nation into a state of perpetual insecurity. I know that you will not stand by and observe your country being hijacked by a select group of neo-conservative extremists who spread fear and loathing. I don't expect you to stand for the haughty suppression of your civil liberties threatened by the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act, which will enable the government to detain in secrecy anyone who supports a "terrorist" group and strip them of their citizenship.If this happens to go to someone who already hates Bush, not much damage would be done to the Kerry campaign. But if you were a swing voter from Ohio and didn't happen to notice the social decline, perpetual insecurity, hijacking by neo-conservative extremists (whoever the hell they are), fear and loathing, and haughty suppression of civil liberties, you might wonder who the hell this muslim bitch is anyway, and why the hell she thinks it's okay to stick her nose into your business.
Almost needless to say, the Guardian's campaign doesn't seem to be particularly successful. Even the Kerry campaign is none too grateful:
Even John Kerry's own Democrats expressed horror at the campaign.But on the upside, at least the Guardian has enough of a sense of humor to print some of the responses. The title of the Guardian's article containing the responses is "Dear Limey Assholes". Note that some of the responses were positive:
"We all feel it is not a good idea. I think it was unwise. It is so poorly thought-out," said Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman in Britain for Democrats Abroad.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a wonderful idea! I am a US citizen who is scared to death that Bush and Klan will get back in. We need all the help we can get to ditch this bunch of maniacs.So not everybody thought it was a bad idea. This next sample isn't so positive but it is friendly, subtle, and polite:
Dear wonderful, loving friends from abroad,Next, a rather sarcastic response:
We Ohioans are an ornery sort and don't take meddling well, even if it comes from people we admire and with their sincere goodwill. We are a fairly closed community overall. In my town of Springfield, I feel that there are some that consider people from the nearby cities of Columbus or Dayton, as "foreigners"- let alone someone from outside our country.
My dear, beloved Brits,There are some, shall we say, less patient responses:
I understand the Guardian is sponsoring a service where British citizens write to Americans to advise them on how to vote. Thank heavens! I was adrift in a sea of confusion and you are my beacon of hope!
Feel free to respond to this email with your advice. Please keep in mind that I am something of an anglophile, so this is not confrontational. Please remember, too, that I am merely an American. That means I am not very bright. It means I have no culture or sense of history. It also means that I am barely literate, so please don't use big, fancy words.
Set me straight, folks!
Go back to sipping your tea and leave our people alone.It starts to degrade quickly:
Hey England, Scotland and Wales,And some respondies thought the Guardian's actions way, way, way beyond the pale (where is that damn pale anyway?):
Mind your own business. We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidental election. If it wasn't for America, you'd all be speaking German. And if America would have had a president, then, of the likes of Kerry, you'd all be goose-stepping around Buckingham Palace. YOU ARE NOT WANTED!! Whether you want to support either party. BUTT OUT!!!
KEEP YOUR FUCKIN' LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN'T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT'S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON'T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!So call me crazy, but I don't think the Guardian's idea turned out to be universally positive. Nice try though!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!
UPDATE: Here's some more:
Dan Harkins, a political activist in the vital swing state of Ohio, was excited when he first heard that the Guardian newspaper was recruiting readers to write to voters in his state in the hopes of giving foreigners a voice in the American election.Why is it that the Left worldwide has no marketing sense whatsoever?
Yesterday, the first of about 14,000 Guardian readers' letters started arriving in the mailboxes of Clark County, Mr Harkins's home region - chosen by the British paper as a pivotal election district where President George W Bush and Senator John Kerry are neck and neck.
The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, Mr Harkins was delighted.
He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. "It's hysterical," laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters.
The Republicans' delight compares with the gloom among local Democrats, who fear that "foreign interference" is hurting Mr Kerry.