How close I came to becoming a phone volunteer for Barack Obama today.
See, I give money. I write articles and blog posts. I even try to understand why someone might not want Barack in office. I sometimes even try to reason with him or her (although, I should admit, I consider most of these people stupid, insane, or both).
But today, I got a MoveOn e-mail asking me to make phone calls in swing states.
Phone calls? Really?
I was initially put off by the very thought. I don't like getting phone calls. Not even from people I like. And I certainly don't like getting phone calls from people trying to sell me stuff. I don't even like phone calls telling me I won stuff. (And not fake stuff—real stuff. Say, prizes from the neighborhood raffle. Because I live in a neighborhood that raffles stuff.)
Anyway, like must of us, it's telemarketers and robocalls I hate most. So why would I want to make calls like this? Had this election actually driven me bonkers?
Well, I figured that since most of the people I'd reach would be undecided voters, I might just be able to rap with 'em. I didn't expect to change minds. But I figured I'd try. And I did want to hear more about their rationales. Hey, I know I'm fallible. Maybe I'm the idiot for thinking McCain supporters are stupid, insane, or both. It's not very likely, but I admit it's possible. (It's also possible, of course, that I'll have a psychotic break and do tequila shots with my creepy neighbor tonight. Not likely. But: possible.)
At any rate, I also had an immature and selfish reason to make the calls. I wanted to tape them and stream them on my blog in the noble pursuit of comedy. I thought maybe I'd have some funny conversations. I knew I could elicit some. Believe it or not, I seem to know how to get certain people to say some pretty funny things—especially when I call them at odd hours.
Of course, I know this really isn't the time to wrangle comedic content in the name of our nation's future. But I don't really have a lot of confidence in swaying people who are stupid, insane, or both. What was the harm?
So, I decided to click on an e-mail I received from MoveOn. Quickly (perhaps quicker than anything that's ever happened on my computer), it brought me to a Web page, where it asked me to input my phone number. (Anxiety! What if this would lead to phone calls at my house? How hard I've worked to keep myself off lists! Do I deserve calls if I make them? Shit.)
Then, however, I bit the bullet (see what I do for you, Barack?) and decided I could provide personal information for this oh-so-virtuous reason.
Then I landed on a page that told me all about who I'd be calling, how I'd read the script, et cetera.
Well, it turns out, MoveOn wanted me not to call undecided voters or McCain supporters. They didn't want my incontrovertible powers of persuasion.
They wanted me to call other MoveOn members. To remind these people to volunteer for a cause they already support.
As if they need me—an inexperienced hack campaigner and self-involved writer—to remind MoveOn members to behave like, well, MoveOn members!
Did they really need this? Do they still need it?
Even if the answer is yes, I decided I wasn't the guy. I ended my career as a Random Political Phone-Caller with the swift click of my mouse. Then I told my wife, who kindly said, "Maybe calling wasn't for you anyway."
As for MoveOn, I'm all for what they want. But I just don't think I want to call people who already have their hearts and minds in the right place. If you're a MoveOn member and you're not volunteering, it's not because I didn't call you.
But I felt I should confess the act publicly. If the right person loses, blame me. It's OK. I let my cause down a bit. I didn't do everything I could. But, as my wife might also argue, I could have done more damage than good. So let's consider that before the public flogging.
Mostly, I just want you to remember: If you live in a swing state and get a call from a MoveOn member bugging you to do your part, it ain't me.
I decided it would be dumb to bother you.
Just as I'll decide to hang up if you call my house.
[Glass Shallot approves this message and urges you to vote -- and to vote for Barack Obama. Specifically because he spared you a phone call.]