Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Political phone annoyances

As if the almost constant barrage of negative campaign ads on television weren't enough now both the Republicans and Democrats are taking to the phones to get in touch with me directly in an effort to direct my vote. Yes, there is nothing that makes we want to support a party platform more than getting awakened on a Sunday morning by some political fuck-wit. I had just had a big breakfast and was falling asleep on the couch with the dog and the phone rings. Everybody in the house was either still asleep or had gone out for some early shopping. I would have gladly told the person at the other end that not only wasn't I interested in supporting their party but because you woke me from a good nap I would actually vote across the board against your party. Unfortunately it was only a machine so I was denied vengeance.

The one thing I hate about politics (out of a couple dozen) is how negative attack ads do not provide a context for their attacks and use half-truths to make points. If, for example, you vote against one out of nine measures to allocate funds for military use then is it right to run a commercial stating you opponent voted against support for the military? Also you have to look at why a vote was cast. What one political group called a "vote against protecting unborn children from gang-violence" was really a vote against a law that would have set a precedent for change to the abortion law; i.e. nothing to do with stray bullets. Sometimes a member of congress will abstain from voting if they support the idea behind the bill but do not support the riders attached to it like the measure that allocated funds for the military but also set stiffer penalties for indecency. Of course, in that case your voting record will come up and will be spun as "didn't vote on the important issues." Some politicians are using records from as early as 1989 to malign their opponents. Doesn't it occur to people that the whole political and social landscape has changed since 1993?

The only way to even begin to comprehend this mess is to sit down and do a large amount of research. Sometimes you will luck out and find someone kind enough to cross reference things for you. When folks attacked Clinton after his tirade on Fox News someone was kind enough to cross-reference quotes from thirteen prominent members of congress (including links when content still existed) that proved otherwise. As they pointed out, with the Internet providing finger-tip reference to everything it gets harder for any party to re-write history. The bad thing about this is you need time to sit down and do a lot of research. Unfortunately, most people will either be too lazy or simply not have the time do it and will default to voting the party line or going with gut instinct: which is what the negative campaigners hope you will do.

Here in Ohio I know of folks that are sick and tired of living in this state and are going to vote out all incumbents in a last-ditch effort to bring about positive change for this state's future. I hope it works for them because just as change might be for the better it could also bring in someone much, much worse.

Until then, though, we are going to have to suffer through the endless campaign advertisements on radio and television and the calls while you are eating dinner or trying to catch a nap on the sofa with the family dog. You would figure, though, if politicians were for the "do not call" list to help protect and convenience consumers they might actually consider using it themselves.

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