2018-10-10 / Editorials

It’s political robocall season again

Len Robbins

I am using one, and only one, criteria to decide who I will vote for this election season: Any candidate I receive a “robocall” from will not receive my vote.

For the 78 percent of my readers who don’t have a home “landline” phone, a robocall is a recorded phone call made to your home or office, relaying some message from a political candidate. They have become all the rage in political circles. For instance, just today, I received four of these robocalls — at work.

The practice of robocalling was developed in 1994 by the political consulting duo of John Winger and Russell Ziskey. Fearful that the candidate they were representing would actually win, the tandem came up with the concept of robocalling in the following conservation:

Ziskey: “What can we do to annoy all the voters so bad they won’t vote for our candidate?” Winger: “I don’t know. Let’s think of things that are annoying.”

Ziskey: “Oh, okay, how about telemarketing? Everybody hates it when telemarketers call their house.”

Winger: “Good idea, Russ. Write that one down. Alright, what else is really annoying? What do most people hate?”

Ziskey: “What we do — political spin and lies and distortions.”

Winger: “Bingo! Now, what else? What else do people find annoying?”

Ziskey: “The voice of Gilbert Gottfried?? Fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard? The hosts of that ‘Funniest Home Videos’ show making lame jokes when they should be showing funny videos?”

Winger: “Whoa, whoa. Hold it, tiger. Let’s just stick to the telemarketing and political spin and have Gilbert Gottfried record the calls. That should be enough to absolutely destroy our candidate’s credibility and any goodwill with the voters.”

And thus, another inherently flawed political advertising movement was born.

In addition to being highly effective at agitating and alienating likely voters, these robocalls can also prove quite embarrassing.

Me: “Hello.”

Phone: “Hello, did you realize (name of some candidate) had a high school History teacher who was once caught reading Pravda in an airport?”

Me: “What? Who is this? And who...”

Phone: (interrupting me) “Yes he did. Do you want a Marxist representing you?”

Me: “Well, no, but I don’t know what...”

Phone: (interrupting me again) That’s why you need to vote for...”

At this point, I realize I am not talking to an actual person, but rather an automated robocall. I hang up in disgust.

“Len, who was that on the phone?”

Um, now I’m in a predicament. My wife heard me carrying on a conversation. If I admit it was a robocall, I look like a fool. If I say it was a telemarketer, she’ll know I am lying because I didn’t give out my credit card number (an unfortunate habit of mine). The only recourse is my old, reliable excuse when I carry on a conversation with a recorded message.

“Wrong number,” I said, almost as if it was a question.

“Ahem,” she responded, obviously knowing I was duped again by the evil robocall.

At this rate, I won’t ever even have to vote.

Go candidates!

© Len Robbins 2018

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