When the legislators gave the National Do Not Call Registry teeth, they made sure their own self interests were served. The language of the Do Not Call law includes “telemarketers”, but specifically does not include political organizations or charities. A political organization does not fit the definition of “telemarketer,” you see.
Raise your hand if you were pestered by robocalls (pre-recorded message automatically sent to hundreds or thousands of phone numbers culled from lists) from various candidates and campaigns this year. Raise your other hand if you found it at least as annoying as a call from a telemarketer, if not more so. Raise your voice if you want it to stop.
You get your number on political robocall lists in a number of ways, some of which include providing it when you register to vote, or when you sign a petition. The robo ‘ware is well designed and will leave messages on your answering machine, so you can’t easily ditch the calls. They’ll use the numbers of ordinary people who’ve volunteered, so the call can look like it’s coming from a private individual and not an organization, which might fool some of you who screen calls and avoid the ones that look like political organizations. My number ended up on lists long ago and I’ve been working my way through getting it back off again. This topic has me incensed enough that I vowed to NOT vote for anyone or any initiative that indulged in this strategy because I believe that my phone — for which I pay and I have expressly for my use — is a part of my personal, private life.
I would not let someone just open my front door, walk into my house, and hawk their views or wares. Why, then, should I accept letting them ring my phone, disturbing my work, my relaxation, my family time? If I don’t appreciate my neighbors and friends shoving their heads through a door or window, unbidden and at random times to tell me their political views, why would I want to listen to a random stranger exhort me to vote Yes on Proposition X? I do not mind hearing what they have to say on TV, or on blogs, or while standing on street corners or at the mall. I support their rights and their duties to express their views in public places. Just stay the hell out of my home.
It’s too late for this political season, but it’s not too late in general. Let me ask again: Raise your voice if you want it to stop.
Start by signing up for the grassroots National Political Do Not Contact Registry. Contact your congresscritter and let him or her know you will throw his or her butt out of office if you hear from him or her during your dinner time. Speak to the media. Write letters to the editor. Blog about it. Re-register for your political party of choice and leave off your phone information and demand that if they do not provide a way for you to get off of their lists, they need to fix that.
Do Not Call should really mean Do. Not. Call.