Monday, January 11, 2010

Why I'm Not Voting Tomorrow

A few weeks back, I noticed we'd been getting a lot of phone calls -- maybe 5 at that point -- from the Dave Marsden for Senate (VA) campaign. (There's a special election to fill the seat vacated by the guy who won the Attorney General spot.) Some calls featured actual people, some were recorded messages, and some were fake polls that ended with a veiled question that essentially meant "Don't you think it would be a great idea to vote for Dave Marsden?" It was starting to get annoying, so the next call we got, I told the woman that if I got one more call from the Marsden campaign or even ABOUT the Marsden campaign, I was not going to vote that day.

This is a big deal for me. My grandfather was a state representative in Massachusetts. I take my civic duty very seriously, and vote in every primary. I sometimes even get a little misty on my way out of the polls, thinking about how great democracy is. And what do I get in reward for this? Apparently I get my name on the list of "likely Democratic voters," and I get harassed. (I don't *always* vote Dem, but I skew in that direction.)

It was only a few more days before we got another call. Steve answered this one and told the woman about my threat. And I yelled from the background that now I'm not voting. The woman then tried to find out from Steve if I was not voting at all, or voting for the other guy. (Does it matter that much?) Steve said he didn't know and got off the phone.

Over the next couple of days, we got at least three more calls (we're up to 10 at this point in the story -- AT LEAST). Each call hardened my resolve to sit out the election. One call woke Lexie up. Steve's profane response to that person should probably not be repeated here. Then Lexie's nanny told us she had to keep the phone next to her all day because of the political calls for me -- when a call came during one of Lexie's naps, the nanny needed to answer the phone as soon as it rang so Lexie wouldn't wake up.

I felt as if I was under siege. I started to consider changing our home phone to an unlisted number. We have it only for emergencies; we mostly use our cell phones. A couple of Steve's family members use the number, but we could easily fill them in about a new one. It occurred to me that it's ridiculous to be considering changing my phone number because of political calls. Has it really come to this?

Then, yesterday, I had an opportunity to go straight to the horse's mouth. Dave Marsden himself came knocking on my door asking me to vote for him on Tuesday. I couldn't believe my luck.

I informed him that I was not voting this time, because we received SO MANY calls that I felt harassed. I told him it was during dinner, during my family time, and he had alienated me. I mentioned that I always vote, but that I'd be sitting this one out. He looked taken aback and then started a spiel about it being an important election for control of the Virginia State Senate, threatened all sorts of scary right-wing things, and blah blah blah. I just looked at him, thanked him for stopping by, and said, "maybe next time your people won't call me QUITE so much."

After he left, I felt kind of righteous, but I also started thinking that maybe an in-person visit from the candidate trumps excessive telephone harassment. Maybe I would vote for him after all, because the other guy is a far-right-winger who used his one prior elected office (school board) to make a public speech in favor of abstinence-only education that featured a personal story about the trauma he endured in losing his virginity before he got married. Seriously. Maybe I could vote for Marsden after all.

And then. Then the phone rang. It couldn't be.

It was.

Just a friendly recorded call from Mark Warner supporting Marsden for Senate.



caitsmom said...

Yikes. Politics can make one crazy, and well as we try to participate---they don't make it easy do they?!!!

caramama said...

That is insane! Those calls drive me nuts, but we've not had it quite so bad.

areyoukiddingme said...

Don't they have a do not call list? I know it's usually for telemarketers, but it may apply to anyone who is buying your phone number. That's like phone harassment. I guess now I know why my husband is so reluctant to give out our phone number to anyone at all!

Two Shorten the Road said...

Nope, the "do not call" list doesn't count for charities or for political calls. Congress wouldn't legislate away their phone-solicitation capabilities, you know? :)

I don't donate to charities that call, either. I tell them to please contact us only by mail and we'll consider donating. They actually seem to get the message without a problem.

Saffy said...

I get the feelings of violation! That's appalling that poor Lexie's sleeps were threatened by unsolicited calls. You almost want to have some kind of loud hooter to play into the phone when they call - maybe that'd slow them down :)

dcpeg said...

Maybe it's time to turn off the ringer on your phone. We did that when we were getting repeated calls from some outfit trying to fax us something. WRONG NUMBER, but how could I get that across since fax machines don't answer people calls.

As for charities, I'm with you on preferring mailed solicitations, but . . . it bugs me so much when they just keep on mailing expensive looking appeals. Makes me wonder how they're spending donated dollars.