Days 68 and 69: 7/27/19-7/28/19

Over the weekend: Julian Castro thought he was the talk show host again, Kamala Harris provided actual substance in her emails (sort of), and Bernie Sanders helped Americans break the law.

Is Tim Ryan feeling all right?

Kamala Harris and Cory Booker were tied at 7 emails each over the 2-day weekend. Booker was understandably excited: he was closing in on the 130,000 donors needed to qualify for the September debates! He already had the polling successes, so those 130,000 donors were all he had left. Over the weekend, he kept sending me updates. 2164 more donations! 1,738! 683! FEWER THAN 106! Did he make his goal? You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow’s post to find out! (Spoiler alert: Yes, yes he did.)

Lots of people had goals this weekend.

While most candidates were after donor counts, including Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden needing X number of donors from my city or state (and Warren still making up different numbers for every email and trying to guilt me by saying: ” We crunched the numbers, and we can definitely hit this goal by our Wednesday deadline — but only if 336 people from Michigan chip in.” (Emphasis from her team)), I found it interesting the value that campaigns were asking for financially.

All of the campaigns asking for money goals were asking specifically for July end-of-month fundraising. Kamala Harris had the largest goal, of $500,000 for the whole month. Joe Biden had a lower goal of $350,000, but his charts showed him much closer than Harris’ campaign. Michael Bennet and Amy Klobuchar had the exact same monthly goal: $100,000. This was the interesting value. From polling, name recognition, and email content, I had assumed that Klobuchar’s campaign was much larger and more successful than Bennet’s. According to the FEC filings, Klobuchar’s campaign has pulled in around $9 million to Bennet’s $2.8 million (excluding transfers from other campaigns). And yet, despite all this, Klobuchar’s fundraising goal is the exact same as Bennet’s. Is Bennet overreaching? Is Klobuchar playing conservatively? Or is Bennet better at fundraising than Klobuchar? Klobuchar does have a 2 month advantage over Bennet. Does that make up the whole difference in their numbers?

Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

Elizabeth Warren sent me an email on Sunday that I actually appreciated:

When I first ran for Senate, I learned a big lesson about grassroots fundraising.

It came one night when my husband and I were waiting for a train home from the movies. A young man walked up to introduce himself. “Are you Elizabeth Warren?”

We talked. It was clear that money was tight for him — full-time job while he was in school, two jobs in the summer, student loans, family couldn’t help. As he was about to leave, he said, “I give you money every month, and I’m taking on hours so I can give more.”

I felt my chest contract. This kid was working until nearly eleven o’clock on a Saturday night and he was sending me money? I said thanks, but maybe he should keep the money.

He looked back at me. “No, I’m part of this campaign. This is my fight, too.” It still gives me goosebumps.

With hundreds of thousands of grassroots donors like him in the fight, we won that election. If we win in 2020 and keep fighting for big, structural change, we can make a real difference — like guaranteeing free public college and canceling student loan debt — to take a few worries off the shoulders of people like that young man on that subway platform.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren shared this personal story with her donor list about why it’s important to her that small donors get treated with the same respect and consideration as large donors, that no matter how small, your donation matters. She then cheapened it by asking me to dig a little deeper and give her more money. I did like this anecdote, but I feel like she should have let it stand on its own. Send the story without the ask. Remind us that she is fighting for us.

At least it was a change from her usual “We’re behind, we won’t make it unless you donate” emails.

Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, had a little stumble. His campaign manager, Mike Schmuhl, sent an email that hadn’t been fully proofread.

Pete will take the stage for the next Democratic primary debate on Tuesday night. Moments like this are important because, although you know Pete and understand his bold vision for the future, many American’s don’t. 

Mike Schmuhl, Campaign Manager, Pete for America

That errant apostrophe in “American’s” made me wince. Plural doesn’t take an apostrophe, possessive does. (Writer tip when texting: when in doubt, leave it out, and if you’re wrong, blame autocorrect.)

The email was pleasant enough otherwise, pointing out how setting a campaign goal (in Buttigieg’s case, 10,000 additional donations before the debate) gives the entire team something to rally around. Organizing arranges watch parties. Merchandise team sells merch. Fundraising team reaches out to new people.

This was a good example of how a donation goal can be made to matter. I have ranted about how the end-of-month goals aren’t really a thing (they are to the campaigns, but as voters, we have no reason to care). This email from Buttigieg shows that they understand that. The goal is for their team, and they’re opening it up to all of us to be part of it. It’s not our goal. We didn’t set it. We don’t care if it’s missed. But we can help them hit it.

On July 3rd, Julian Castro sent me an email with the subject “Rachel Maddow just revealed:” As the body of his email revealed, Maddow hadn’t revealed anything. Rather, Castro had revealed he hadn’t made it to 130,000 donors yet while on Maddow’s show.

On Saturday, Castro did it again. “Stephen Colbert announced:” Stephen Colbert didn’t announce anything. Castro announced, on Colbert’s show, that he didn’t hold anything back during the first Democratic debates.

Not only does Castro seem to confuse himself with the presenter of these shows, but these dramatic email subjects don’t actually give us anything new. Half of Castro’s emails since the first debates had been about how he hadn’t held anything back. Dozens of his emails leading up to Maddow’s show were about how he hadn’t qualified for September’s debate yet.

Castro also went back to his old message, talking about defying the odds and his single mother and no one expected a kid like him to grow up to be where he is today. This time, he included old photos. I. Don’t. Care. You can talk about your past until you’re blue in the face, Castro. I want to hear about my future.

Amy Klobuchar also did a bit of clickbait over the weekend, though her subject probably only would have worked on me: Spreadsheets. I have a massive spreadsheet controlling all the data for this blog, and I love a well-organized spreadsheet. There’s something pleasing about all those numbers and data lined up so neatly…

Klobuchar’s email had nothing to do with spreadsheets.

The next DNC debate is only a few days away, and I know Amy’s going to do great! But while the rest of the team is focused on getting ready, I’m going over our spreadsheets before July’s critical end of month deadline.

Elise Convy, Finance Team, Amy for America

That was it. That was the only spreadsheet reference in the entire email. I wanted to see some cold, hard data from Klobuchar for once! I should have known that she would never provide solid facts! (I actually did open this email as soon as it dropped in my inbox because the subject intrigued me. Curse you, Klobuchar!)

In a shocking twist, Kamala Harris broke away from her usual “We’re behind, please give us money” emails to drop some policy in my inbox. Or at least, to drop some policy into my non-donor inbox. In another example of A/B testing, Harris provided me with a lengthy email detailing her idea for Medicare for All (and why it’s better than Bernie Sanders’). She laid out a few points and went into great detail on each, especially on how we arrive at Medicare for All. Throughout the email, she asked me to sign a petition supporting it.

To my donor account, I received a much shorter email with a few bullet points of what would happen in America under her plan, a link to her plan, and the petition to sign. She is clearly tracking which approach gets more signatures: laying out the details or merely reassuring Americans that she does have a plan. It would be interesting to get those numbers from her. Do Americans actually care about the details, or is it enough to just say that they exist?

And speaking of healthcare, on Sunday, Bernie Sanders took a busload of Americans across the border from Detroit to Canada to buy insulin. For a diabetic, this drug is a literal life-saver. In Canada, a vial of insulin costs $30.

In the U.S.A., it costs $340.

While we were there, people were able to buy the same drugs at one-tenth of the cost. One family from Indiana told me in the pharmacy that they skip paying their electric bill in order to pay for their son’s insulin. They paid $1,000 today for six months of insulin. It would have cost them $10,000 in the United States.

Bernie Sanders

The drug prices in America are astronomical and out of control. There have been many news stories these past few years about companies buying drug patents and jacking up the price so life-saving drugs, including emergency drugs such as an Epi-Pen, are out of the financial reach of so many. This is one of many reasons why ever Democratic candidate is talking about healthcare. It is ridiculous that a life-saving drug is 10 times as expensive just a few miles away as long as you cross an international border.

Unfortunately, it’s also illegal to take drugs across the border. Even life-saving drugs.

There are some exceptions under federal law allowing you to go to Canada to buy prescription drugs cheaper, but they don’t allow for much.

Are there any circumstances when I could purchase or bring an unapproved drug or device into the U.S.?

The FDA has guidance for personal importation of drug or device products.  Below provides information regarding situations for which this might be allowed:

* Product is not for treatment of a serious condition and there is no known significant health risk (Over the Counter, OTC); and 

* Product is for the treatment of a serious condition (Prescription Drug Products):

* The product is for a serious condition for which effective treatment may not be available domestically either through commercial or clinical means.

* There is no known commercialization or promotion of the product to persons residing in the U.S.

* The product does not represent an unreasonable risk.

* The consumer affirms in writing that the product is for personal use.

* The quantity is generally not more than a three month supply and either:

a. Provide the name and address of the doctor licensed in the U.S. responsible for  your treatment with the product, or

b. Provide evidence that the product is for the continuation of a treatment begun in a foreign country.

A six-month supply of insulin IS available domestically, and it’s more than a three-month supply. According to the FDA guidelines, bringing it across the border from Canada to the U.S.A. is illegal.

And now we sit in a morally gray area. The simple truth is that Americans never should need to break the law to afford medicine to save their lives. If we are truly the greatest country in the world, we should be able to afford our own medicine. The fact that we cannot means that our system is fundamentally broken somewhere. Our politicians are trying to fix it (at least the Democratic ones), but it’s still a broken system that we’re trying to live with.

Buying prescription drugs in Canada and bringing them across the border isn’t strictly enforced. Probably none of these people will face any repercussions for their actions other than being able to both save their son’s life and pay their electric bill. Personally, I would never begrudge anyone the ability to save thousands with an international jaunt.

Nevertheless, this email was sent by a frontrunner of the Democratic Presidential candidates describing transactions that violate American law. No matter how right it is to do for humanity’s sake, it is not right in the eyes of American law.

No one is above the law. Isn’t that the current rallying cry on Capitol Hill? No one is above the law. Even if it’s a stupid law (and this law actually isn’t, it’s trying to protect Americans by forcing them to buy drugs that have been FDA-approved as opposed to drugs that may be of questionable safety or effectiveness, but the situation is stupid and never should have come about.), it shouldn’t be blatantly flouted with proof pushed into nearly a million inboxes across the country. By all means, point out the problems! Talk about the hypothetical scenario of John and Jane who can’t afford their electric bill because they have to pay $10,000 for Johnny’s insulin unless they drive twenty miles into Canada and buy it for $1,000. Talk to Americans who absolutely could benefit from breaking the law and buying Canadian insulin or other drugs. But as a Presidential candidate, don’t actually do it! We already have one President comfortable with breaking laws he doesn’t like. Why should we replace him with another?

This one is tough for me, because on the one hand, thank you, Sanders. Genuinely, on behalf of all of those people, thank you. I struggle enough with the bills for minor home repairs. I can only imagine the stress of trying to pay for something I need to keep my body alive and knowing it is a fraction of the cost just across the border. So thank you for what you did. But did you have to make it into a political stunt? Did you have to advertise your illicit actions?

Actual count: 2581. Google, I despair that the color bug will ever get fixed.

2 thoughts on “Days 68 and 69: 7/27/19-7/28/19

  1. Sanders brought the insulin back with him?? What??

    I didn’t follow that event close at all because it reeks of a political stunt—we KNOW insulin is cheaper in Canada, we don’t need for a candidate to drive a busload of people across the border and buy it to prove a point. I didn’t know he had, or had allowed, them to bring it back to the States. That’s incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous.


  2. Sanders himself didn’t buy the insulin, is my understanding of the situation. The Americans who went with him bought the insulin. I presume they brought it back, since he was saying some of them were buying a six month supply.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s