It was early evening in mid-November when I saw the tweet.
Cards Against Humanity, the vulgar and raunchy and hilarious and loveable and cringe-inducing card game had announced on Twitter that it was giving its fans and followers the opportunity to help it “save America.” The tweet drove to a website that offered a little more—though not much—information on the initiative.
The premise was vague but simple: send Cards Against Humanity $15, and they’d send you six “America-saving” surprises throughout the month of December.
Why were they doing this? Because, according to the folks at Cards Against Humanity, the “government is being run by a toilet.”
The catch? Only the first 150,000 people to fork over the $15 would be allowed to participate. The site, particularly the FAQ section, made me laugh out loud more times than an episode of Parks and Rec. I was curious and not in complete disagreement with Cards Against Humanity’s displeasure with our country’s current administration. I was in.
The checkout process included a random but detailed survey, asking typical thing like level of education and yearly income, and plenty of not-so typical things, like… this.
A real-time tracker logged how many of the 150,000 spots remained. By the time I signed up around 9 p.m., just under 30,000 were left. The next morning, they were gone.
The first surprise, mailed inside a red, white and blue, star-spangled envelope, arrived on the final day of November.
Inside, a letter from Cards Against Humanity explained that it had used a portion of the $2.25 million dollars it raised to purchase a plot of vacant land along the U.S.-Mexico border—and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for President Trump to build a wall between the nations. Each person who participated, the mailing explained, helped Cards Against Humanity purchase 0.000667 percent of the parcel of land.
Also included in the mailing was an illustrated map of the land, a certificate of their promise to fight the wall, a statement from the lawyers retained, and six bonus Cards Against Humanity cards (to be added to a full game deck) with content themed around the surprise.
Arriving about a week later, the Day 2 envelope was branded the same, though much slimmer. It included a letter that explained in order to combat the barrage of stress-inducing bad news most Americans hear every day, Cards Against Humanity was launching The Good News Podcast. Thanks to participants’ support, the daily podcast would be funded for a full year, ad-free.
Also included in the mailing were additional Cards Against Humanity cards, and a variety of laptop stickers featuring fun facts and “good news,” including one that simply says, “ There’s Always Dogs.” (And they’re right.)
The third surprise was, for me, the most unexpected. From Cards Against Humanity’s Day 3 letter:
“In order to deliver on our promise to save America, we knew we needed to tackle our country’s biggest issue: wealth inequality. The richest 0.1% of Americans have as much wealth as the bottom 90%.
Using the survey you filled out when you signed up, we identified the 100 poorest recipients and sent them each a check for $1,000. The next 10,000 poorest recipients got a $15 refund check.
You got nothing. And if you don’t like it, tough titties.”
I wasn’t mad about it, and you can read stories about how the money impacted recipients lives here.
The fourth Cards Against Humanity surprise tackled the subject of homework head-on. One of the more profanity-laden letters of the six I’d receive explained that homework “Alienates students from their families and communities and stifles creativity from a young age.”
To “destroy homework once and for all,” Cards Against Humanity partnered with DonorsChoose.org to support teachers who are creating engaging alternatives to traditional homework, including things like field trips to museums, making slime, reading with families, and playing board games.
Cards Against Humanity would match any donation to support these teachers up to $100,000.
Also included in the mailing were several thank-you notes from children, including a drawing of Malala that was so good I started crying.
In its fifth surprise, Cards Against Humanity announced that it was launching a public opinion poll called Pulse of the Nation. Each month of 2018, the letter explained, they’ll ask Americans a variety of interesting and important questions, analyze and publish the results—using funding raised through the initiative.
Enclosed with the letter was a mini magazine of the first two months’ of results (they started polling early), asking tough questions like “Do you support White Nationalism?” and “Do you think it’s OK to pee in the shower?”
The letter promised that Cards Against Humanity would continue publishing results every month online, and closed with the sentence, “Nate Silver, retire bitch.”
Moving in a completely different direction, with its sixth surprise Cards Against Humanity set out to save baseball, because “let’s face it: baseball is boring,” which were their words, not mine.
The final letter, arriving just before New Year’s Eve, explained that Cards Against Humanity had purchased the naming rights to a minor-league baseball stadium in Joliet, Illinois. The home of the “loveable underdog” Joliet Slammers would henceforth be knows as The Cards Against Humanity Baseball Place.
Including in the envelope was one ticket to any Slammers game this spring, a poster of the stadium, and a pack of custom baseball cards featuring Slammers players. The cards, of course, featured stats like “Nipple Diameter” and “Number of Teeth,” because why not?
In the end, I found Cards Against Humanity Saves America to be fun and full of surprises. Besides Day 1, the initiative was not nearly as politically themed as I had originally expected, and it ended up being an easy way for me to contribute to a few charitable movements, fund a few worthwhile programs, and laugh a lot along the way. It was the perfect way to close out a turbulent year.
Happy Thursday, you guys. Get out there and save America.