Campaign literature is smothering us!

It doesn't matter whether we're Democrats or Republicans, left fielders or right fielders. We've got to join together and make those candidates stop stuffing us with campaign literature.

I used to think the political mail would ebb, once the people simply told the candidates whom they were for. I did that several times, but the mail just kept on coming. Politicians wanted the grassroots opinion. They wanted to know how I felt about abortion, human rights, the Mideast, the Far East, South America, illegal aliens, the defense budget, safety on the streets, and taxes. I told them everything I knew.

For a while, I got the impression I was running the whole country by myself. Of course, they wanted a little contribution here and a little handout there. But that was all right. I knew they had to eat while I made their decisions.

But I soon came to see that this was far from the truth. In fact, not only weren't they listening to me, but they kept spending my contribution to buy postage to send me more letters and pamphlets and quiz questions and testimonials.

Some epistles did not come in the standard 9-1/2 by 4-1/4-inch envelopes. They came in huge, foot-long red, white, and blue packets marked "Urgent," "Hand Deliver," "Open in 24 hours," or "Reply Immediately."

No one hand-delivered these things to me, even though the campaigns were evidently paying for it. No, the letters were stuffed into my mailbox. My politician was getting ripped off by the post office.

Those politicians have to realize that most of us only have one mailbox. Mine is about 5-1/2 inches wide, 6 inches high, and 15 inches deep.

I simply do not have room for all this political palaver, and it's spilling out all over the highways and byways of this beautiful country, creating a national litter pile. And telephone lines are being jammed by aides who tell you that a famous politician wants to talk to you ... on a recording.

When they're old enough to dial my number, I'll listen to them.

Now, I'll admit that an honest-to-goodness telephone call from my national candidate or a face-to-face meeting would impress me, but I'm no longer impressed with computerized letters or recordings where my name keeps popping up.

I want those campaign managers to stop using my money to litter my space. I'd rather have my candidate use my handout to buy a new pair of hose or a handkerchief. I wouldn't mind if it went together with other contributions for a whole new outfit. I just don't want them to expect me to wear it, or carry it in from my mailbox, or listen to a recording that I can't talk back to.

And letters about how my candidate wowed them in a farmer's field, or examined an automotive plant, or brought camels to their knees in the desert, or kissed the blarney stone are a waste. If it was important, I already read about it in the newspapers, and I saw it on TV, and found it in the magazines. Journalists are paid to write stories about politicians. Let them do their job. It's free publicity.

Political positions are the only five- or six-figure jobs I know of where the person who wants them sends out pleas for contributions to friends and perfect strangers ... and actually rakes in money. What would you do if you got a letter saying, "I want to get a job as a doctor, merchant, lawyer, or a preacher, and would you please send me $25, $50, $100, or $1,000 so I could get it?"

We'd laugh, that's what we'd do. But the politicians have us so smothered in platitudes and promises that we no longer breathe the air of common sense.

-- Josephine Ligon is a freelance writer.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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