When I moved from St. Lawrence County to Watertown, one of the first things I did was to change my voter registration address.
That apparently triggered this awesome form letter from Sen. Patty Ritchie, in which she introduces herself to me as my state senator and tells me that she hopes I will keep her informed as to how she can best represent me.
The last line is fantastic: "Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you." Considering I call her office roughly every day on my annoyance/charm crusade/offensive, Mrs. Ritchie, a Heuvelton Republican, was preaching to the choir.
But I called anyway. My conversation with her spokesman Jim Reagen went something like this.
Me: "Hello, my name is Brian Amaral. I'm a Watertown resident. I'm calling in that favor that was promised in this form letter."
Mr. Reagen: "What can we do for you?"
Me: "Umm... [the sound of someone wishing he had planned his attack a little bit better] I'm actually pretty content right now."
Mr. Reagen: "That's because we've made you happy. We didn't even realize we were doing it. It just goes to show how effective Senator Ritchie is that you are now a happy person. You should say thank you."
Keep in mind, I didn't register for a political party (is the Communist Party still banned?). So if you're a resident of Jefferson, Oswego or St. Lawrence counties and you register to vote for the first time or change your address, you'll probably get one of these letters.
As was discussed on Mayor Jeff Graham's blog the other day, Mrs. Ritchie's office has really taken advantage of new social media. Unfortunately for folks like me, "new technology" means things like Facebook, which means things like "We don't have to talk to Brian to get our message out."
And Mrs. Ritchie even instructs recipients of this form letter to send her a message through Facebook.
Plenty of people in my line of work are really unhappy about this type of circumvention — which happens to a much greater extent on the national level, when politicians not only have access to blogs, Twitter and Facebook, but friendly media outlets (FOX News and MSNBC for the right and the left, respectively).
But I don't see these sorts of efforts as any threat to my paycheck. Because no matter how many Tweets and Facebooks and blogs get thrown out there, people like me are still going to call people like Jim Reagen and annoy/charm the heck out of them.