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Robo calls helping candidates chase off possible votes

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POSTED June 6, 2010 2:44 a.m.
I finally made up my mind who to vote for in Tuesday’s Republican primary for Congress.

It wasn’t a tough call. I simply crossed all of the candidates off my list who have placed irritating robo calls to me in the past month.

I only use a cell phone so every call from an automated computer  phone bank pops up up as “unavailable” on my screen. On Saturday, I was leaving Save Mart when the cell phone rang. I immediately pulled over, grabbed the cell, answered it by saying “hello” and then after the infamous pregnant pause that only a robo call offers I started getting some gibberish from someone who wanted me to vote for a specific candidate for attorney general because of their position on immigration.

All the previous calls I had gotten simply annoyed me. This one irritated me. Perhaps it could have been the fact it was the third political robo call of the day coming on the heels of one earlier that woke me up.
The ones that have been over the top have been among the Republicans running for Congress.

I had narrowed the candidates I was considering down to three based on what research I could do from positions posted on websites to conversations I’ve had with several of the hopefuls. Still, it was hard to figure whose repertoire of positions I felt would serve the common good the best if elected.

After Saturday’s third robo call, I decided the best way was to cross off those on my short list who annoyed me with robo calls. (Hey it’s better than selecting someone based on the color of their hair.) I’ll admit if I had felt strongly about one of the candidates employing robo calls I wouldn’t have changed my mind. The problem are the candidates running have no real track record to assess so you’re judging them on basically puff pieces on them and attack pieces on their opponents.

Being against Barbara Boxer, for example, is not going to make me vote for you just because I’m not wild about Boxer myself. Exactly how you propose to get this state or country out of the quandary it is in right now does.

This is the first year I ever recall simply tossing all of the campaign mailers that I receive. Perhaps it has to do with the fact I use a postal box and pick up my mail once every four or so days. It got so bad at one point I had to go to the counter after they left a note in my box saying all of the mail wouldn’t fit in the postal box.

A friend couldn’t believe all of the Republican organizations had supported Proposition 16 on Tuesday’s ballot based on the volume of mail he was getting it. More than a few of those “Republican organizations” are simply bought with money. You pay for a position on the mailer and - viola - you’re endorsed by that organization.

Election campaigns have become so un-enlightening in terms of a candidate’s position or their strategy for changing things that is almost an insult to those whose voters they are lusting after.

One of the newer trends - making a point of how much in campaign contributions you’ve received - is also a bit scary.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t necessarily tell me that a candidate has great support but it does infer that big money interests are sending them a lot of money. Somehow they are equating the fact they’ve raised the most money or close to it that somehow that makes them a better fit to serve in Congress. Given the way that those in Congress act once they get there, though, they might have a point.

I understand that it is impossible for any candidate to make one-on-one contact with all eligible voters given the fact a Congressional district in California has close to 600,000 people. And perhaps if a candidate sent out mailers that were a tad more informative or even indulged the collective intelligence of voters by sending out a 10-page paper outlining exactly what they’d do if they get elected and how they’d go about doing it, they might just gain support.

For now, politicians of all persuasions have resorted to 10 - to 30-second sound bites and trying to gain the upper hand by trashing their opponent’s positions or record. It shouldn’t be about who pontificates the best in 30 seconds or less or who can make themsleves look like a good option after they spent millions ripping their opponents to shreds.

I’d be willing to wager that come this Tuesday that Republican turnout won’t be all that strong in the 11th District. That would tell the political powers that be that they are turning voters off with their campaign tactics since this race has been identified as one of national importance in helping determine which version of the same-old-, same-old - Republicans or Democrats - control the House of representatives.
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