As somebody who has spent countless hours phone banking and knocking on doors for political candidates over the last four years, I was both disturbed and offended at a recent opinion column by the General Manager of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
At the end of an opinion column by Rich Perlberg that covered a number of different topics, he tells us how he handles political volunteers who call his home advocating for their candidate:
The family gets a kick when a telemarketer calls our house, especially when its for a political family. Lately, I interrupt the scripted sales pitch to tell the caller how much we appreciate having our dinner conversation disrupted. It's not like we were talking about anything important.
Then I tell the caller that his or her boss (or political party) supported a law that makes it illegal for my company to make the very call that they are still allowed to make. If they are still listening, I tell them how I feel about politicians who make laws that they don't have to follow.
They generally hang up before I can tell them that their call has persuaded me to vote for their opponent.
It always breaks my family up. We are easily entertained.
Now, for full disclosure and before I am called a disgruntled former employee, I once worked for this company for six years, but I was let go four years ago.
But this really bothered me. I have been on the receiving end of those calls, I have made them and I have been a journalist covering politics. In 2006 I spent two days a week in Monroe, a battleground county, calling people for eight hours a day and then knocking on doors in the evening for another four hours. So I know how it feels to be insulted and called names on the phone. It’s not as bad at people’s doors, but it does happen. It takes an enormous amount of patience and self-control, but there is no better way to get your candidate elected than personal contact.
Here’s the difference, Rich, between a volunteer advocating for their favorite candidate and an out-of-state telemarketer you hire and pay to make more money for the corporation that happens to own the newspaper at the time.
The person calling on behalf of the political candidate is giving up their time to volunteer - unless it’s a robo call or push poll - to become involved in their community and wants a better place to live for them and their children. That goes for both political parties. Republicans are wrong on 99 percent of the issues and I question their tactics, but I know they love their country just as much as I and other liberals do. I will never be rude to a campaign volunteer who calls my home or come to my door, no matter who the candidate is.
I would suggest to Mr. Perlberg that if in the future a dedicated campaign volunteer calls his home, just politely say no thank you before they go into their “scripted sales pitch” so they can go on to the next person. Why waste your time and theirs if you are not interested? I would also suggest that if a paid telemarketer calls to do the same, so they can go on to the next person. After all, they are just trying to make a living.
Your family will have to find some different entertainment.