Josh Marshall has been reporting a new and despicable set of dirty tricks: robocalls that call over and over, or in the middle of the night, pretending to be for one candidate when in fact they are from another. The point, apparently, is to annoy voters so much that they decide not to vote for the candidate they (mistakenly) think is making the calls. One example from the Philadelphia daily News:
"BEING SICK in bed, which I was for the past couple of weeks, is bad enough.
But being sick in bed while living in a political combat zone - in this case, the 6th Congressional District - is enough to MAKE YOU WANT TO KILL SOMEBODY.
My God, the phone calls! Just as I'd begin to drift off to sleep, the phone would ring and it would be YET ANOTHER DAMN COMPUTERIZED MESSAGE ABOUT LOIS MURPHY.
One, two, three, four times a day it seemed, the phone rang with "robocalls" about the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach in one of the nastiest races in the country.
I never listened to one word of it, just slammed the phone down and seethed with resentment. (...)
But if they annoy voters rather than enlighten them, what's the point?
That's what I asked Lois Murphy's campaign yesterday.
The answer was simple:
"It's not us!"
Only three recorded calls have been made on behalf of Murphy's campaign, including one from Gov. Rendell, which were sponsored by the Democratic State Committee.
The rest? A "dirty trick" by the Republicans, said communications director Amy Bonitatibus.
The calls, which begin by offering "important information about Lois Murphy," are designed to mislead voters into thinking the message is from her.
Most recipients slam down the phone before finding out otherwise - and then call to complain.
"We've got a ton of complaints, starting about two weeks ago," Bonitatibus said.
"Some of our biggest supporters have said, 'If you call me again, I'm not voting for Lois.' ""
"In at least 53 competitive House races, the National Republican Campaign Committee has launched hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls, known as "robo calls." (...)
The NRCC, the GOP campaign arm for House candidates, has spent $2.1 million on such automated calls nationwide. In Illinois, at least three versions of a phone message target Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat in a tight Chicago-area race, and her positions on taxes, Social Security and immigrants."
"An automated voice at the other end of the telephone line asks whether you believe that judges who “push homosexual marriage and create new rights like abortion and sodomy” should be controlled. If your reply is “yes,” the voice lets you know that the Democratic candidate in the Senate race in Montana, Jon Tester, is not your man.
In Maryland, a similar question-and-answer sequence suggests that only the Republican Senate candidate would keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In Tennessee, another paints the Democrat as wanting to give foreign terrorists “the same legal rights and privileges” as Americans.
Using a telemarketing tactic that is best known for steering consumers to buy products, the organizers of the political telephone calls say they have reached hundreds of thousands of homes in five states over the last several weeks in a push to win votes for Republicans."
Luckily, in addition to doing the reporting, TPM has also provided an email from a reader that states my views so well that it would be pointless for me to try to think of a better way to say it:
"I think it's useful to take a step back and examine, in the simplest terms, what the Republicans are doing here: they are attempting to sabotage the American democratic process because it's inconvenient for their candidates.
Of course these robo-calls are only one manifestation of a consistent theme, but when I approach the calls without the cynicism of a political news junkie, I find them breathtakingly despicable. The people behind this aren't schoolyard bullies, or even college kids. These are adults with years of political experience and a comprehensive understanding of what exactly their acts amount to. The NRCC simply does not believe that Americans should be able to make informed choices about their representatives in the voting booth. They are perfectly willing to dismantle the democratic process, which cannot function properly when voters are harassed (or even worse, harassed under false pretenses). I think it's fair to say that their behavior in this instance is "profoundly immoral and malevolent," which is how the Oxford English Dictionary describes "evil." Despite our desensitization to these types of transgressions, we cannot afford to take them lightly."
The people who do this are antidemocratic. They don't believe in making their case and letting the voters decide. They don't care about democracy, or citizens' right to choose the candidate who best reflects their views, or fair play or honesty or decency or moral values. They care about power, and they will undermine our democracy before they let the voters pry the reins of power out of their claws.