Robo-babble hits the Keystone State

By on November 5, 2012

We here at the Post office in Pennsylvania have been deluged with Robo-calls since Friday. They are all coming from one party. Their candidate himself delivered a canned message in his own support about an hour ago. It was not inspiring.

His cronies are throwing every party mouthpiece at us, including one I thought was dead. It’s remarkable. The babble is endless. And the message ultra-familiar. We’ve finally decided to let the phone roll into message until the election is over. (Sorry legitimate callers.) It is a shame that this kind of invasion gets palmed off as Freedom of Speech, but that’s where we are these days.

We keep hearing from pollsters that Pennsylvania is likely in the Democratic column again this year, although frankly neither party has put on a strenuous campaign in the state. In 2008 Obama had quite an organizational structure at work here. This year any effort has been invisible, though Obama lawn signs are everywhere. We hear that folks in Ohio started crying “Uncle” months ago. Now it’s our turn. Does this really translate into votes?


One reason Pennsylvania will look appetizing to those hungry for a late push is that the state does not permit early voting. It has also weathered an attempt by the Republican governor and legislature to tighten voting laws, requiring strict state-produced photo-IDs at the polls. Turns out, the state was not ready to meet the proposed photo-ID mandate with resources to produce them, and, after several court battles, the Corbett Administration was told to back off.

In spite of this, much confusion remains. Pennsylvania does not do the job of informing its citizens about elections the way  other states do. It’s fend for yourselves, a philosophy no doubt left over from rough-and-ready colonial days. It is hard to believe this is all innocent under-thinking after the leader of the State assembly publicly crowed that this initiative was designed to hand the state to Romney. Why do we elect public servants like this?

How Pennsylvania will vote tomorrow is still a mystery to me. I see that former President Clinton will be in the state later today. Whatever that portends, I do think that taking the state for granted by either party was a mistake. It went decidedly for Obama in 2008, and solidly Republican in 2010. Tom Corbett, a strong Attorney General elected to the state house that year, has proved something of a partisan dud as governor. What does that portend?

Meanwhile we are enduring more Robo-assaults, hoping through it all, to stay connected to callers who have something of interest to say. We have also silenced the TV which has been blasting away with the campaign propaganda lo these many months. It’s the communication equivalent of Hurricane Sandy  — ill winds that blow hard and no good.

Tom Godfrey

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