With about 80 days to go until the general election, it is the time for campaign signs, phone calls, flyers in the mail, TV ads and knocks on our doors.
The complaints have started with two letters in the Times on Aug. 10. The first had to do with yard signs.
The writer complained that a candidate’s supporters were “skulking around in the dark” to “sandwich” his opponent’s signs. Apparently, the writer saw these supporters, so clearly they are not very good skulkers.
What distance qualifies as a “sandwich?” A couple of inches, sure. Five or six feet? Debatable.
The writer wrote that this occurred at “the most high-trafficked street intersection of Leavenworth.” I don’t know what that is, but I can think of several that would qualify, all of which are very well-lit. How does one skulk in the dark at a well-lit intersection?
The point is that we are going to see the rich Kansas soil blossom with campaign signs for the next 80 or so days. Every candidate is going to try to squeeze his or her sign into the intersections of 4th and Spruce, 10th and Eisenhower, 20th and Metropolitan and in as many places as possible on the well-traveled streets of Leavenworth and Lansing.
Candidates have volunteers who put out signs. All candidates should ensure that the volunteers know the rules for sign placement. Instructions should be clear that volunteers not intentionally block an opponent’s signs and certainly not remove or damage an opponent’s signs.
There are saints and sinners in all political parties. There will be those who adhere to the rules and those who don’t. There will be those who will remove signs and those who will stand up an opponent’s sign that has been knocked over. There will be saints who will respect the opponent’s signs and sinners who will not.
And there will be those who will complain no matter what.
The other letter writer complained about all of the phone calls even if on a “No Call” list. As a Leavenworth resident and someone who is actively involved in campaigns and even makes phone calls to registered voters, I have heard the anger and vitriol of people who do not like political calls.
The writer obviously is unaware that the “No Call” list exempts political calls. So yelling at the caller, who might be your neighbor, does nothing. Try to remember that the person making the calls is getting just as many calls as everyone else.
The writer complains about the “unknown” and “unavailable” numbers. She would have to see her phone’s screen in order to determine that. Why just not answer the phone?
The local Republican Party has specific hours when we call. We do our best to stay away from “8 a.m.” calls and “evening meal time” or “right up to bedtime,” whenever that is. Once, I knocked on someone’s door at 5 p.m. and was yelled at because it was too late to be knocking. You can’t please everyone.
One other point regarding phone calls. One of the angry reactions is that some people say they have told callers not to call again. Rather than take a minute to listen, they almost always hang up. If someone does listen, I tell them that there is no central political phone call system across the nation. This goes for all parties. The local political party will call. Political action committees will call. Candidates’ own volunteers will call. State party volunteers will call. The national party may call.
As a Leavenworth volunteer, I tell people who care to listen that I can remove them from the local party phone list. I cannot, nor can anyone else, remove the number from any other organization. It cannot be done. The writer says she will vote for the other party. Of course, the other party is also making phone calls.
As I said, I get as many political phone calls as does the letter writer. The difference is that, for me, that phone call is the voice of freedom and democracy. It is the voice of those who established the Constitution of the United States. It is a phone call to be relished, not one where the caller gets berated. We should welcome expressions of the blessing of being able to voice different opinions and to appeal to all, whether multi-millionaire or minimum wage worker, for their support. For me, the ring of a political phone call is the ringing of the Liberty Bell.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.