Since the calls were all taped messages, there was no way to ask the caller to take you off their lists. Worse yet, Buckaroo and I had already voted via an early mail-in ballot last week so these calls reminding us to "vote this Tuesday" were completely pointless. People find these election calls so annoying that such calls were actually being used in that capacity by our dear old Republican friends to make people think it was the Democratic challenger who was continually harassing them via phone. How the party that sells itself of the party of God and morals could do such a dishonest thing is beyond me.
Actually, it shouldn’t surprise me. Both parties should be ashamed of themselves this year. I have been purposely avoiding live TV these past few weeks in order to avoid any campaign ads. The only things I’ll watch are what has been recorded on the TiVo. In that way I can quickly skip by the advertisements. This year the mudslinging between candidates has reached a new high (or should that be low?). I don’t know that election campaigns are like for you readers outside of the USA, but over here, things get really nasty. Advertisements can be run over and over again that are just one or two words short of being bald-face lies.
Here’s an example: In Arizona, the incumbent Republican Senator Jon Kyl is up against Democratic challenger Jim Pederson. Illegal immigration is a very hot topic in the state because of our border with Mexico. The Kyl Campaign has been running an ad on TV that says "Jim Pederson supports amnesty for illegal immigrants." Now it doesn’t matter what your stance is on illegal immigration; the point is whether Jim Pederson actually supports amnesty or not as the Kyl ad claims. Turns out Pederson never actually said anything of the sort. What he did say (and what the Kyl campaign twisted to mean support for amnesty) was "The last effective measure that passed Congress was in 1986, 20 years ago, and people like Senator Kyl have sat back there and done nothing." The measure Pederson was referring to was a 1986 amnesty bill, and while his wording was poor in making his point, he actually meant that Congress has not taken any meaningful steps on the immigration problem since then. Not only that, but Sen. Kyl actually supported the 1986 amnesty bill himself, yet he conveniently fails to mention that in his ad. (Source: The Arizona Republic, ‘Pederson, Kyl trade barbs about amnesty,’ September 19th, 2006)
It’s just as bad, if not worse, regarding the myriads of ballot propositions we in Arizona had to vote for. Instead of campaigning for or against a proposition based on its merits, the new tactic of choice is to confuse voters as much as possible. This year several anti-smoking groups put forth a proposition (Prop. 201) to ban smoking in public places. It was sponsored by the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, among others. Well of course, the granddaddy of all tobacco manufactures R.J. Reynolds saw such a law taking effect as a direct threat on their business, so what did they do? They helped back a competing proposition (Prop. 206) which they called the "Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act." The advertisements looked good; the proposition looked like it would protect us non-smokers from second-hand smoke. In actuality, Prop. 206 rolled back previously voter-approved smoking bans in cities like Tempe and provided for no penalties or enforcement for businesses who chose to ignore the ban. Being that RJR committed more than $40 million dollars nationwide to fight anti-smoking initiatives, they were easily able to outspend the Prop. 201 folks in promoting their fake smoking ban. Many voters in Arizona probably cast votes for RJR’s Prop. 206 not realizing what they were really voting for. The same "confuse the voters" tactic was used a few years back regarding Indian casinos in Arizona.
All of this negative campaigning and mudslinging leaves me (and I imagine, most voters) with a really bad taste in my mouth regarding politics. It’s no wonder the voter turn-out rates are so low. By the time the election finally gets here, most of us don’t want anything to do with either candidate anymore.
Lastly, I’ll be really glad when the campaign signs start disappearing. Since Arizona has little rain to ruin such signs, thousands upon thousands of them are put up all over. My fellow Arizonian readers can correct me if I’m exaggerating, but I would say that most street corners around the Phoenix area have an average of 10-15 campaign signs on them. Local television news teams have done reports in the past on how the signs can actually be dangerous by blocking visibility of oncoming traffic. I’m curious how effective the signs are. I don’t ever recall voting for someone based on a sign. (I was going to go out and take a picture to prove how bad the campaign sign problem here is, but that would involve me getting up off my duff and going out, and you see, I’m extraordinarily lazy.)
When the election is over, there are city ordinances in place that state when the signs need to be removed by. Unfortunately there is little enforcement, so it’s not at all surprising to see signs saying "Elect [insert name here]" well after Christmas and into the New Year. They’re ugly and a blight on our neighborhoods.
Well, it’s now 9:00pm local time (MST) here in Arizona. I have no idea who is winning at this point. After being burned during the coverage of the last two elections ("Gore Wins Florida", "Kerry Wins Ohio"), I have no desire to turn into the news coverage until after things are fairly certain. In fact, I may not even check out who won until tomorrow. After all, I did my part and voted, so there’s not a lot more I can do at this point, is there?