Let The Record Show

by Alan J. Claffie

Despite the rather pointed effort at talking politicians out of placing unwanted recorded phone calls to the voting public in our effort here last time out, we're pretty unhappy to report that not only did County Commissioner President candidate Al Smith make yet another recorded appeal to someone who was definitely not going to vote for him, but his tactic was used by others, including both candidates for Maryland governor, Senator Ben Cardin, another Commissioner wannabe Kurt Wolfgang, and others.

As I promised, I went to the polls on Tuesday with a list of those who called the house and voted for their opponents. In the case of the governor's race, it got a little complicated as both major candidates had called or had calls placed on their behalf, so I cast my vote for a minor candidate not affiliated with either major political party.

In the case of Mr Smith, Mr Wolfgang, and one of the governorship candidates (Bob Ehrlich), they lost.

While I certainly won't try to take credit for sending them to defeat, perhaps this was a sign that there are others who might agree with the candidates' sales pitches, but disagree with the way those pitches were delivered. Or maybe they didn't even know that candidate's pitch, but recognized the name from the phoned-in intrusion and said "no way".

There's a lot of people who are on do-not-call lists, which political organizations don't have to abide by. That's too bad both for us who signed up for it and for those candidates who choose to ignore it. We signed up for it the day it went live because we didn't want any unwanted telephone calls, doesn't matter if it's from charities, opinion researchers, or politicians. It's too bad for politicians because it's only going to create backlash against themselves as they anger more and more voters.

The smart politicians will abide by the do-not-call list before starting their campaigns when things start heating up in two years. Actually, smart politicians will abandon any plans to politic via telephone in the first place.

But is there such a thing as a smart politician?

Did I waste my vote?

No. Call me a cynic but the way I voted made no difference. And it doesn't come down to the fact that the guys who won did so with large enough margins of victory that my one vote could have swung the results in another direction.

What I mean is that it doesn't matter who wins or loses these elections. Which guy gets in office doesn't make any difference. Which party is in control isn't important. All the guys who campaigned saying they'd be looking out for us little people who might be unemployed, underemployed, without health insurance, without affordable housing, all that, they're gone after election day. They won't be back in the local area until the next election cycle begins, which will be too soon, and as soon as they're impaneled in whichever legislature they've won the right to sit in, they'll immediately start working their way into the old boy networks.

Net effect? The same old same old. They've disappeared looking for perks, committee assignments and lobbyists' perks. The next time we see them, it'll only be because they want something from us such as our willingness to send them back for more.

It's nice work if you can get it. And I don't care who does it, as long as they stay away from my telephone.

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