Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Callers go crazy in presidential year

Political candidates keep the phones ringing with messages to vote or donate

February 20, 2008

Just when I thought that I was safe from random sales pitch phone calls, the phone began ringing off the hook again. The callers on the other end are not frightening, just extremely annoying. Unless I remember to put a phone in a pocket of whatever I'm wearing, I usually can't make it to a phone until it stops ringing. Then I'm always worried that it is a family member with an urgent message. I stop whatever I'm doing and stumble about trying to find the phone. When I get the sales pitch to continue my magazine subscription or hear about a new fantastic offer my phone company has for me, my blood pressure rises dangerously high.

I guess that some sort of weird twist to the "no call" list allows phone calls to hapless folk who are already customers. And, apparently nonprofit agencies feel free to ring private households to solicit donations.

However, the irritation of unwanted phone calls has been made much worse by the fact it is a presidential election year and many support organizations are desperate to secure a front runner position for their candidate in the primaries and caucuses. These same groups are also busy soliciting funds for the ever more expensive process of running for office.

In the month before the Kansas caucuses, we were bombarded with calls asking for funds, taking "surveys," and demanding that we vote for a certain candidate. One of the calls which most aggravated me was one purporting to be a disinterested pollster which actually took the answers I gave to questions and berated me with "facts" if my answer were the "wrong" response. Needless to say, I didn't complete that survey. For now, the phones have quieted a bit, but I imagine that they will begin jangling overtime again this fall. In my case, the efforts of the people on the phone are in vain except sometimes in a negative way.

My parents and grandparents and other family members were always interested in politics. They were all registered Republicans, except for an uncle who was a lone Democrat. He apparently didn't suffer too much though because he ran for and was elected as a Representative to the State House from our district in Stevens County, Kansas.

The key was that my family just loosely aligned themselves with any political party. My grandparents were proud to support Jack Kennedy. My grandmother actually bought a straight backed rocker because she read that he used one.

I remember discussions about the contests between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey and subsequently Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Our house was split over that contest: my father was for Eisenhower and my mother, for Stevenson.

My generation couldn't vote at 18. We had to wait until we were 21, but I still joined the Young Democrats at the University of Kansas so that I could catch a bus ride to Kansas City and see John F. Kennedy stump at Memorial Stadium.

I didn't really think much about the politics of the time, but marveled at how young and vital Kennedy appeared. A good friend and room mate of mine didn't go with us, but she saw him at a more somber occasion-his funeral procession.

Since then, many presidents have come and gone - Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the elder, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, the younger. I've voted in every election, but not always for the winner. However, random phone calls have never influenced me. Usually, what the candidates themselves say publicly and their records are what make me choose which ballot box I mark.

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