Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I approve this message

The decomposing campaign signs will choke the roadsides for another six months or so, but the fall election season, with a few new twists and the absence of some traditional rites, is finally in the books .
Oh sure, I'm sure we've all grown used to those slanted, nasty TV commercials:
-"Ed Jawngrobber is the wrong choice for your next Assistant Port Commissioner. He personally voted to raise taxes on wheelchairs, seeing-eye dogs and matches sold by orphans. He insisted on being the pitcher on his daughter's t-ball team. He enjoys hotdogs made with real puppies. And he never, ever, puts down the toilet seat." Throughout this montage, Mr. Jawngrobber is shown in grainy, black and white imagery, probably scowling at someone and not wearing a shirt.
Suddenly, the clouds part and the spotlight turns to Ed's opponent, the obvious choice:
-"Dirk Rockmeyer is who we need for Assistant Port Commissioner. As a third grader, he piloted a program for pulling elderly, disabled, World War II veterans through the snow on specially heated sleds to dialysis appointments. His finger is on the pulse of small business, as the founder of the I Can't Believe It's Dental Floss Bread Company. And... he's really, really good looking." Cut to a warm color image of Dirk and family out in the backyard playing Frisbee golf. Mr. Rockmeyer pauses, Frisbee in hand, faces the camera and says, "I'm Dirk Rockmeyer. I love you, I'll protect you, and I approved this message."
We're all used to these cheesy campaign messages, but now they're invading our phone lines with those "robo-calls." How annoying are those? The "do not call list" provided a brief respite from solicitors, but it didn't take long before our answering machines became clogged with personal messages from Michelle Obama, John McCain and the people who are afraid that eventually humans will marry shetland ponies if we don't act now.
Conversely, one of the campaign season's richest traditions, casting your ballot at your local precinct, is now extinct in Washington state; it's mail-in voting only. No more elderly volunteers putting down their bowl of chicken and rice casserole, lowering their faces to an inch above the portable table and scouring the alphabetical list. No more rushing to a stuffy, hot church basement to pull the curtain and punch the card.
If given the choice, I'd take the church basement any day over the robo-calls. I'd even welcome that wonderful, old volunteer guy spitting casserole rice on my chest after handing me my ballot and uttering, "Pick a pole booth, Tim."

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