Okay, call me cranky.

A very intelligent, probably overworked telephone solicitor for a certain Senatorial Campaign called to check on why I had not yet sent in my “generous pledge of $230” ostensibly made back in April.  I guess that “I don’t make pledges over the phone, and, in any large amounts my wife and I prefer to consult before committing.  Can you send material by mail and we’ll talk it over?” could be confused for making a pledge.

The caller was patient when I objected and even listened to my complaint that campaign contributions tend to buy ads that are based more on contention and demonizing opponents than on anything that persuades otherwise confirmed political silo campers to vote differently.  I told him that I would prefer a different approach.

He asked, “What would you recommend?  I have a section on my screen for suggestions.”  Always a sucker for an invitation, I shared an idea that my wife and I have had for years.  Let the candidate take a significant portion of campaign money and with it organize a very substantive community improvement project that meets an unmet need.  Let this project utilize volunteers from across most of the political spectrum, demonstrating commitment to measurable outcomes and ability to bring the community together in efforts that matter.  And forget buying attack ads. Just tell us your better ideas and your plans to help colleagues on both sides of the aisle to crank out truly useful legislation and repeal what no longer serves well.

After an, “I know what you mean . . .” which fooled me momentarily thinking that he was actually listening with empathy, the solicitor launched into this breathless explanation from what had to be a well rehearsed Plan C script about how important it was to keep the crazies on the ___ side of the aisle from dominating the Senate and ostensibly destroying Democracy as we know it.

I felt sorry for the guy but not sorry enough to fork over more cash for the conquest.  “All you will do is to continue the rhetorical tennis match in the media and it will do little to incline one to make a more reasoned choice at the polls.”  I know this first hand as a member of a city council where a recent and well researched initiative was just defeated by local voters  2:1 thanks to an aggressive negative campaign.

So when do we stop supporting the political campaign addictions that plague so much of politics; well funded, professionally produced diatribes and misinformation that feed gridlock, fear, segregation and frustrate what little political progress is possible? To keep doing what we are doing and expect different results?