Image via AP

The Democratic National Committee is in something of a precarious place at the moment. Opposing the historically unpopular Trump administration and supporting more progressive policy positions that voters want should be a slam dunk, messaging-wise. And yet!

Despite the seeming advantage of being the party that hasn’t embraced white nationalism, the DNC finds itself running sorely behind in one of the crucial measurements of political effectiveness: Cold hard cash.

It’s been a bad year for DNC fundraising. Almost laughably so. In April, the DNC pulled in only $4.3 million—the worst haul for that month in nearly 15 years. In July, things got worse, with only $3.8 million raised—an eight-year low for the month. By comparison, the Washington Post notes, the Republican National Committee has pulled in at least $9.5 million each month since the start of the year.

It’s a particularly troubling trend for the Democratic Party specifically, given how successful other liberal and left-wing organizations have been at raising cash off the Trump administration. The ACLU, for instance, raised a whopping $24 million in a single weekend following the initial roll out of the White House’s travel ban. Swing Left, another liberal organization, raised a million dollars in just 48 hours after congressional Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Given the financial gap between the two parties, it’s understandable that the DNC would start to get a little itchy about connecting with the electorate—both in terms of fundraising, and, eventually, whipping up actual votes. Amazingly, their latest tactic appears to be to scare voters and donors with the seeming prospect of financial ruin.

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Take a look at this recent DNC mailer, pictures of which were posted online Monday by Twitter user Andrew Saturn:

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If you’re someone who would ostensibly vote Democratic (let’s say, hypothetically, someone drowning in medical and student loan debt) how are you supposed to respond to a letter designed to look like an overdue bill? It’s a cynical, alienating, and confusing ploy—kind of like when Republicans tried the same thing a few years back.

A very bad way to raise money for your political party is to portray yourself as champions of the working class and then prey on their fears of being hit with a debt they can’t afford. It’s just the latest example of Democrats totally fumbling when it comes to connecting with a base eager to take the fight to the ultra-conservatives currently in power. The fact remains that political outreach is as much an evolving art as it is a growing science. But from the looks of things, the Democrats still have a ways to go if they’re going to deliver in 2018, and beyond.

I’ve reached out to the DNC to find out how this mailer was conceived and created, and will update this post if I hear back.