Rocking the vote

Had I known how difficult pulling together our Election 2000 coverage was going to be, I would have kept the idea to myself. But now that it’s off to the printer, I’m glad I didn’t. For one thing, working on the feature galvanized me to do some research of my own prior to entering the voting booth next month. Usually I wait until the night before voting day to scour the newspapers, the Internet, and the newsweeklies for information about the races – only to throw up my hands in exhaustion and exasperation, and to wing it in the booth the next morning.

For another, editing the election section (which starts on p. 83) taught me a helluva lot. For instance, did you know that Tom Bliley Jr., the retiring chair of the House Commerce Committee, is a funeral director by trade? More important, I learned that party lines aren’t as clear-cut as they used to be. As Amanda Mark notes in her article “To tax or not to tax” (p. 86), when it comes to voting on Internet taxation, to name one hot-button issue for marketers, geography rather than party affiliation is more likely to determine how an official might vote.

Just as eye-opening was how unresponsive candidates were to our requests for information. Our intrepid staff contacted, by phone and e-mail, the major-party candidates for all 33 Senate seats up for grabs this year; within three weeks, only a half-dozen or so had responded. Likewise, when researching his article about presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush (“Weighing the heavyweights,” p. 83), Paul Miller received no response to multiple phone calls and e-mails to the candidates’ campaign offices.

Our elected officials work for us (at least theoretically). This, then, makes all of us the customers. And here they are disregarding a customer’s request for information that could influence his voting decision. If a cataloger, or anyone else working in the private sector, treated customers this callously, the customers would likely vote with their wallets for a rival firm.

We’ve all heard the saying “you get the government you deserve.” I think we deserve elected officials as responsible and responsive to their customers (not to mention their employees and investors) as successful corporate executives are. If a cataloger runs for office, you can be sure he or she will have my vote.

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