The transcript goes something like this:
CALLER: Hello, Mr. Rubin, this is [name redacted] from the [political organization redacted]. As I’m sure you know this is a tough election year and–”
ME: Let me stop you right there. I’m not taking calls from political campaigns.
CALLER: I understand, Mr. Rubin, and I won’t take up much of your time. You’ve given generously to [political campaign redacted] in the past and I–”
ME: I’m sorry to interrupt you again, but I’m no longer taking calls from political campaigns. Good luck with your efforts and sorry for hanging up on you.
The thing is, you can no longer open your eyes without seeing some kind of political advertising. It gets worse every year and thank goodness that I no longer watch television or I might go out of my mind. Thank goodness I have satellite radio or I might go bonkers listening to the political ads. Open a newspaper: politics. Read a blog: politics. Browse your Twitter stream: politics. It would be one thing if the ads were in the form of: here is what I did/will do to improve things instead of here is what the other fellow will do to fuck them up. The way we hotly debate political topics in public forums today remind me of the way we debated philosophy (or pretty much anything) as naive college freshmen. We focus only on edge cases. We get overly emotional. We talk and we don’t listen. We think our clever arguments are unique. Well, I’m tired of listening, but no because I don’t like the arguments being made (although, generally, I don’t). I just want a vacation from it all.
And while I hate to say it because I’ve tried very hard over the last ten years to gather in my sometimes unmanageably large ego: I don’t need anyone to explain the “issues” to me. I don’t need the person on the phone pitching their own narrow view like some snake oil salesperson. I don’t need the editorial columns. I don’t need the character assassination spots because, well, I have a brain and a higher-than-average IQ, and I can think for myself. Okay, there, I said it. I may not be setting records as a science fiction writer, or software developer, or blogger, or technology specialist, but I’m a pretty smart guy. I can see the logical flaws that crop up in nearly every ad. I know an ad hominem attack when I see one.
And on those occasions when I’ve tried to explain this to the caller, they pull out the big guns: “Look, sir,” they say, “the fact of the matter is that [political candidate redacted] is raising money at an alarming rate and the only way that we can beat them in November is with generous donations from someone like yourself.”
I pause thoughtfully at this point, considering. And then I say, “What you are saying is that you’ve wasted my time explaining to me all of your arguments with the flawed logic and all of your cheap shots at your opponent without backing up those accusations with facts? What you are saying is that none of that really matters? What will ultimately decide the election is who raises the most money? Count me out. I can make an informed decision without paying for the privilege of doing it. Especially when the money I would give would be used to put more ads on the air or to interrupt people’s lives with more inane phone calls.”
At this point, some of these folks actually try to argue with me.
So I’m saying it to everyone as loudly and clearly as I can: I’m no longer taking political calls. I don’t have the patience to keep you from calling me, and I’m not going to stop answering my phone. But if I do, and if the call turns out to be for a political campaign, I’ll politely beg off, directing you to my website for the reasons why so that I don’t have to repeat myself 500 more times before the election. I’m not holding back money because I don’t believe that good can come from this. I’m holding back money because I will no longer fund nonsense.
And just in case it wasn’t perfectly clear: yes, I deliberately did not mention one campaign or the other. While I most definitely have my leanings, in this case, it doesn’t matter. The behavior of both parties has been opprobrious in their efforts to make the other look bad.
It doesn’t matter who is who. In terms of their behavior, I can no longer tell them apart.