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Thursday, March 1, 2012

BE POLITE,PLEASE


Make 250 calls a day.  That was my mission last week.  There were two special elections, and we wanted to contact as many people as possible to let them know  why our candidates were best for Michigan.

For the most part, people were polite.  They asked about the candidate, became informed about how this process would work with a closed primary occurring on the same day.  I felt good about doing the work of a democracy:  educating voters.

But, oh, there were some grouchy people.
 
“Would you people stop calling me?”

“What’s wrong with you people?”

“You politicians are all crooks anyway, why should I vote for any of you?”

Now, I know it is frustrating for people to receive so many phone calls.  Elections can become tiring and there are times we just want them to go away.

But let’s look at this from a different angle today.  

First, we all want good, honest, truth-speaking people to represent us in the halls of government.  And let’s face it.  Seeing who that person really is can be a tough job. For that reason, good politicians meet as many people as they can.  That way the voter is better equipped to make a good decision on Election Day.    When a politician knocks on your door or talks personally to you on the phone, or at an event, it is your opportunity to gauge whether you want that person to represent you.  

But let’s face it; it is not possible for any one candidate to talk to every person in any electoral district.  So clearly, that person needs surrogates to go out and talk to voters for him or her.  Those surrogates, in order to make personal contact with voters, have a limited number of options.  They can make phone calls or knock on peoples’ doors to talk with them.  Each of these options is somewhat intrusive.

But voters, here is my rant for the day.  Instead of looking at phone calls and visits from politicians or their surrogates as an intrusion, let’s look at those moments as opportunities to get to know the people we choose to represent us in Lansing or in Washington.
I am only asking you to have patience for the political process for a few weeks before an election.  It is the price we pay for living in a democracy.  There are people who have done so much more to keep our democracy strong.  They have gone to war, become wounded, or even given their lives so we have this precious right to self-govern.

So the next time you receive a call, even if it is annoying or intrusive, please have patience with the phone caller.  Take the opportunity to find out more about the candidate, or Election Day, or where to vote, or what the important issues are.  Instead of being grouchy, thank the person calling for his or her service.  It is a teeny-tiny price we pay to live in our representative democracy. Enjoy it.

Better yet, after you have looked deeply into the issues, take the time to make some calls yourself, knock on a few doors or come on down and see how you can help out at the candidates’ headquarters.  On Election Day, get others out to vote.  The election process is more important than anything else you are doing.

Maybe you’ll even join me in making 250 phone calls a day.  And maybe – just maybe – we can have legislators who will represent us in Lansing, instead of the gas, oil and big drug companies.

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