Election reflections and dissections

People, it is strongly suspected, crab a lot about all the mail from politicians that stuffs their mailboxes during the last month of the campaign. Once again, we might be indulging in a teensy bit of ultra-sensitivity. The mail is plentiful, yes. The stuff pretty much pours out of the box during the last 10 days before the election. But this onslaught is far from worthless. You can get some usable information on the candidates/issues off these cards. More often than not, it appears that the candidate would rather go “positive” in the mail, saving the groin-kicks for his/her opponent for the TV spots. That means candidate X will speak about why you should vote for him/herself—the very data that many folks complain is too scarce in modern campaigns. And the pictures on these cards communicate as much as the words, maybe more. You get some kind of feel for this person, for example, just by seeing his/her dog, and they rarely pass up a chance to show off Sparky. In the end, campaign cards via the mail are OK. Even helpful. Next election, get a decent-sized box, and put all the campaign mail in it. By Election Day, you’ll be stunned at how many cards you’ve collected. By recycling them, you’ll furnish the raw material for about 1,500 golf scorecards.

One election tactic that could, however, be described as worthless—robo-calling. Who thought this was a good idea? Bring me the head of the fooncake who green-lit this concept. Yes, I’m being unreasonably harsh. I’m sure robo-calls have their place in modern elections. It bugs me to admit so, but I’m sure they do. That probably says something alarming about Americans and their ability and/or willingness to read here in 2006. Here’s why I guess that’s the case. Why do robo-calls exist? Because, on some level, they work. Why do they work? Because millions and millions of us can’t be bothered to read the campaign card in the mail, choosing to flip them immediately in the trash, but a significant percentage of these millions will listen to the message if it’s being read to them—especially if it’s being read by a “celebrity,” meaning the candidate. Hence, robo-calls. Lots of them. The effect robo-calls had on my votes this election—zero. Absolute zero. I never listened to one full robo-call, even if it was for a candidate or issue I supported. This is because I’d rather read the card than listen to my answering machine. I’m guessing I’m in the minority on this.

The main message from Election Day—the American people aren’t so irretrievably numb that they can’t administer an accurate and solid boot to the ass if they get rankled enough. A reasonable person could not help but be encouraged.