In the wake of Tuesday's hotly contested Senate election, there's one thing voters of all persuasions can agree on: Enough with the robo-calls.
In the wake of Tuesday's hotly-contested Senate election, there's one thing voters of all persuasions can agree on: Enough with the robo-calls.
In the last two weeks, our phones have been worn out by unwelcome incoming calls. We've heard from Bill Clinton and Curt Schilling, Ayla Brown and Barack Obama, and of course Martha and Scott, who have called often enough to put us on a first-name basis.
We've been polled by Democrats, Republicans, media organizations and pollsters who refuse to say who they are calling for. We've been polled by live interviewers and by recordings who don't flinch when we give absurd answers. We've been push-polled as well, with questions like, "would you change your vote if you knew your candidate had a soft spot for ax-murderers, Guantanamo detainees and the Yankees?"
We've even been robo-called and polled on our cell phones, at inconvenient times. Telemarketers aren't supposed to call unlisted cell phone numbers, a particular irritant if you're on a plan that charges you for every call received. We've received unwanted, campaign-related text messages, which is equally expensive and even more irritating.
Several years ago, public frustration over unwanted sales calls interrupting dinner erupted, and lawmakers responded by creating state and federal "do not call" lists, with stiff fines for businesses that call anyone on the list. The lists have been a tremendous success, and solicitors who call people who have asked to be put on the list are likely to get an earful.
But legislators carved out loopholes for charities, for businesses you have a relationship with (or their affiliates) - and for themselves: Political organizations are free to ignore the "do not call" list.
There's an argument to be made for letting campaigns campaign. Democracy thrives on communication, and if we aren't making it illegal for candidates or volunteers to knock on doors, why not let them call on the phone? But the barrage of recorded phone calls is too easy for candidates and too irritating for voters.
So let us suggest a compromise: Continue to exempt political organizations from the "Do Not Call" list, but only if it's a live human being making the calls. Most of us would be happy to have a conversation with Bill Clinton or Ayla Brown, or with a neighbor who cares enough to chat with us about the issues of the day.
But a conversation has to be two-way. If we can't talk back to the campaigns, we don't want them interrupting our lives. It's time lawmakers cut off the robo-calls.
The MetroWest Daily News