Libertarian for Congress makes a name for himself by launching creative robo-call campaign

Kevin Barrett, vying for the Libertarian party’s Congressional candidacy in Wisconsin’s third district, has launched a somewhat unique automated calling campaign. In anticipation of the September 9th primary, his voice will be heard in 15,000 homes across the district in two distinct messages, but not in the way you would expect from a politician.

The first message can be heard here, and the second one here.

I think the Barrett campaign says it best when they comment,

Barrett’s pre-recorded phone message slams politicians and features Barrett’s trademark absurdist, self-effacing humor.

Barrett test-marketed the call to a number of voters, one of whom immediately donated $500 to his campaign, while another responded “politics couldn’t be more fun!” Based on the test-marketing sample, Barrett said he expects to garner a few thousand dollars, a few thousand votes, and “only a couple of dozen death threats” from the calls. “That’s a pretty good ratio of votes to death threats,” Barrett said. “So I decided to go ahead and place the calls. It seems like a sound, strategic political decision…”

…Barrett apologized to Wheedlesharp and others who don’t like getting robo-calls from politicians, and promised that if they send him to Washington he’ll stop calling them. “Heck, I might even support legislation banning robo-calls from politicians,” Barrett said. “In fact, I think I’ll record a robo-call right now telling voters if they vote for me I’ll support anti-robo-call legislation.”

Rolf Lindgren, Barrett’s campaign manager, said he hoped voters had a sense of humor.

(Full disclosure:Â Mr. Lindgren has been helping me find a robo-call company for John Murphy’s Congressional campaign.)

66 thoughts on “Libertarian for Congress makes a name for himself by launching creative robo-call campaign

  1. G.E.

    Funny, maybe.. But Barrett just doesn’t get it. Legislation against robocalls is unlibertarian, though a very minor crime compared to the others he seriously supports.

  2. George Donnelly

    Should Libertarians be making robo-calls?

    I don’t think so. It’s invasive of people’s privacy and strikes me as really tacky.

    I would be very hesitant to use such a tactic.

  3. G.E.

    I disagree with George. “Invasion of privacy?” Really? How so? Your property rights extend to your phone line? Absurd! Am I initiating force against you by making a phone call?

    I hate receiving phone calls and thus I keep my phone turned off at all times. Ask anyone who ever tries to call me.

    You can purchase services that screen your calls, etc., and with less government regulation of communications, these services would be more widely available and cheap.

    I disagree with the content of the robocall, I don’t like getting robocalls, and I don’t think most people do — but as a Libertarian, what do you have to lose?

  4. Galileo Galilei

    my favorite part of the robo call:

    “we know that 9/11 was an inside job!”

    you cross this with an annoying political robo call, and you’ve got fire!

    Can you imagine what people think when this one comes in?

    🙂

  5. G.E.

    Doe Barrett also boost his support for an Islamic Super State with Socialist Security, HealthCare rationing, and “Anti-Trust” legislation in these robo calls?

  6. Ross Levin Post author

    I hear Ben Olson (his opponent) is doing robo calls for child labor, a renewed Guilded Age, free abortion coupons, and bestiality.

    That anti-robo call legislation comment was a joke.

  7. G.E.

    Hooray for Child Labor and Gold!

    Libertarians do not support “free abortions,” Ross.

  8. Galileo Galilei

    Barrett is soft on national health care:

    Libertarians debate in run-up to Sept. 9 primary
    http://www.wiscnews.com/bnr/news/302303

    Quotes:

    “While the acknowledged Libertarian viewpoint is to keep the government from accruing more power than it already has, Barrett, 49, said he was in favor of a single-payer health care system run by the government. Barrett said he could flip-flop on the issues, however, if he was offered a better alternative.

    “I do think that single-payer health care is the best solution to our current problem,” Barret said, “that doesn’t mean that I believe in it philosophically. Actually I would prefer a non-government run health care system.””

    “Barrett agreed, saying that the war in the Middle East was nothing more than an oil grab by the United States.

    He concluded by saying about the president and other high ranking officials: “The people who got us into this war are war criminals. We need to judge them at a new Nuremburg war crimes tribunal after we have immediately drawn out all of our troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.””

  9. G.E.

    Not all libertarians, including myself, even support the “right” of abortion, Ross. So you’re grossly mischaracterizing libertarianism.

  10. G.E.

    Speaking of bestiality: Anyone remember that CP candidate who not only admitted to banging his mule, but said that “everyone from the South who grew up on a farm” did that, and if they said they didn’t, they were lying???

    This was classic old school TPW!

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    Nothing un-libertarian about robo-calls, any more than there’s something un-libertarian about speaking to someone on the sidewalk.

    Matter of fact, it’s easier to not answer your phone, or to hang up, than it is to get past some soapbox dude haranguing you in meatspace.

    It did a small robo-call to LP contacts in my primary. Didn’t seem to make a difference … so I’m expanding it. I’m awaiting a bid from a company on a 10,000 call package for the day before the November election, and may do more than that.

    As far as content, I’m thinking about going very non-traditional — perhaps a few bars of Tiny Tim singing “Tiptoe Through The Tulips,” and then the usual “I’m Tom Knapp, Libertarian for US House, and I approve this message.” Or something like that.

  12. shimane

    Robo calls are the phone spam of this election cycle.

    As I testified at the US. Senate these calls are an epidemic and are invading the privacy of All American Voters.

    Our members are taking a stand and saying enough is enough at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at StopPoliticalCalls.org.

    Here is a quote from a member recently:

    “I’m a shift worker, working variable shifts. I depend on my sleep to be able to do my job safely and efficiently. I’m a locomotive engineer. Imagine the disaster were I to fall asleep, operating a freight train carrying hazardous materials in your neighborhood, due to fatigue from being awoken in my middle of the night on a continuous basis during election season. Please stop..”

    Regards,

    Shaun Dakin
    CEO and Founder
    http://www.stoppoliticalcalls.org

  13. G.E.

    I think you were being sarcastic, as was I, but there has to be some hint of truth in sarcasm in order for it to be worth uttering.

  14. Thomas L. Knapp

    Let’s see … guy’s too stupid to figure out how to his phone’s ringer off, but some company’s desperate enough to have him out there running trains up and down the tracks. Now I’m going to have trouble sleeping.

  15. Mike Theodore

    I actually don’t mind them. I actually like them! At least there’s some politicians around here that are trying, and not assuming they’ll be re-elected easily, even though they all will.
    As I’ve stated before, those phone call town hall meetings work great, and boosted the chances of our GOP against the usual Democratic incumbent (I’m not a fan of either of them, but plan to talk to one of them at a fest this weekend). The “host” claimed that a few thousand people were listening, and when I tried to ask a question it said 20 other people were in line.

    I have no idea how much these things cost, but they get your attention. They even give you an option to press 9 and never get called by them in the future.

  16. G.E.

    Mike – Can you explain how this worked again. Did they call you and tell you a time? Or did they call you and say “this is going on NOW”?

  17. Mike Theodore

    I forgot before (I forget things…), but I just got one recently.
    They call and say that the town hall meeting is taking place and give you instructions. Example: 6 for question, 9 to not be called again. Then it brings you in, but it’s not all at the same time. The first time, it was kind of starting a bit. The second time, I was near the end. I don’t know how that system works. I guess they can’t call all numbers at once, so it’s one at a time, or something.

    The only problems was a few pranksters, which they removed swiftly. The candidate could have handled those better, as he seemed flustered.

  18. Mike Theodore

    In my opinion, if it wasn’t for them, the GOP candidate here would be dead in the polls and would have a definite landslide loss. This at least made a man who is barely getting press a little more name recognition.
    He seems like he likes doing weird things to see if they work. For example, all his signs have no capitals in his name. Subtle, but just plain weird.
    Maybe we do need that…

  19. Lance Brown

    G.E.:

    Doe Barrett also boost his support for an Islamic Super State with Socialist Security, HealthCare rationing, and “Anti-Trust” legislation in these robo calls?

    No. And what I find cool about these “libertarians” with non-libertarian views (I’m thinking Barr, Barrett, and Landham offhand) is that they are getting called out on the schism between their views and real libertarian views – often by non-libertarian news people, which makes it even better. All three of those candidacies have ironically helped to elucidate what real libertarianism is. In a weaker party, their LP-divergent views would serve to confuse folks and dilute the brand. But the brand is established enough that it stands to challenge candidates who would subvert it. I’m glad to see that.

    As far as Barrett’s ads go, they are pretty funny. If I had to get a robocall, I’d certainly prefer one of those to most others I’ve heard. And I would act on it. I’m not sure how much it helps him to mention 9/11, but it’s obviously important to him, so I’m not surprised. And he only says it in one ad – though if it’s the first of two that are going to the same people, I suppose he only has to say it once anyway.

    Tom,

    perhaps a few bars of Tiny Tim singing “Tiptoe Through The Tulips,”

    There’s non-traditional, and then there’s offputting. But the twain need not meet. How about at least doing Monty Python or something? Tiny Tim’s just 100% weird. I would think topping it off at 70-80% weird would be plenty weird enough. And if you did Python, the chances of hitting either funny chords or poignant chords or familiar chords are much better.

    How about the “I came here for an argument” skit? Or “Always look on the bright side of life”? There are probably hundreds of good snippets that could be used.

  20. Trent Hill

    GE,

    “Speaking of bestiality: Anyone remember that CP candidate who not only admitted to banging his mule, but said that “everyone from the South who grew up on a farm” did that, and if they said they didn’t, they were lying???

    This was classic old school TPW!”

    Bad news…that was an LP candidate too. =)

  21. Galileo Galilei

    shimane;

    If someone works the graveyard shift, is it smart to sleep next to the phone? Or if so, why not turn the ringer off?

    And while you’re at it blaming robo calls, what if your buddy who drove the train off the tracks gets a call from his mother-in-law while sleeping? Should we ban phone calls from mother-in-laws?

    You’re obviousely not a Libertarian, but rather a control freak.

  22. G.E.

    You’re obviousely not a Libertarian, but rather a control freak.

    Yeah. Next thing you know, he’ll be saying he wants universal health care, Socialist Security, and Anti-Trust legislation!

  23. inDglass

    I don’t see how Barrett could keep saying he would accept an alternative to universal health care if it was good enough. I know he supports Ron Paul and he told me he would be in Minnesota for the RNC and CFL. Why doesn’t he support Dr. Paul’s Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act?

  24. Ross Levin Post author

    No one supports abortion (if you do, you’re sick). But people do support the mother’s right to chose and the idea of valuing the mother’s life more than a barely developed embryo’s life.

  25. Galileo Galilei

    shouldn’t the fetus be consulted in the decision on whether or not to abort? And would they not have to be 18 years old before they were legally allowed to enter into such a decision of that import?

  26. G.E.

    Ross – Overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t impose ANY beliefs on ANYONE. You need to educate yourself, young sir.

    The choice between the mother’s life and the child’s life is almost always a false choice. In those extremely rare circumstances, of course I side with the mother, but that accounts for approximately 0% of abortions.

    Gailileo – The fetus can, of course, not consent to being aborted. Nor can a one-year-old child consent to not being murdered. Why pick an arbitrary age of 18? People can consent when they can consent. It might be 15 for some, 21 for others.

  27. G.E.

    Also: Quite hilarious that an advocate for the Nationalist Initiative for Socialism would call overturning Roe, itself a nationalist imposition on state sovereignty, “imposing views on everyone else.” The whole point of the NI4D is to do exactly that, whereas overturning Roe would merely put the decision for how abortion is classified in the hands of the people and their state legislatures, rather than dictators in black robes.

  28. Trent Hill

    ” But people do support the mother’s right to chose and the idea of valuing the mother’s life more than a barely developed embryo’s life.”

    So Ross admits it–they value one life more than the other.

    Libertarians respect ALL life.

  29. langa

    Ross,

    Obviously one can logically oppose abortion, while making an exception if the mother’s life is in danger, just as one can oppose murder, while making an exception in the case of self-defense.

  30. Ross Levin Post author

    GE – I don’t see how a state legislature is any more equipped to deal with the issue than the federal government.

    By overturning Roe I meant banning abortions. And that is imposing anti-abortion views on people who need abortions.

    Trent – that’s an easy way to make me look bad, but there are situations where the mother would be hurt if she had the baby. Or what about incest, rape, or something along those lines? You don’t think it’s justified to have an abortion then, for the mother’s sake?

    And this is a completely different argument, but the Ni4D is in no way built to impose beliefs on others.

  31. Trent Hill

    “GE – I don’t see how a state legislature is any more equipped to deal with the issue than the federal government.”

    Because it is more local. The more local a government, the easier it is for the citizenry to change it, or overthrow it. This is a pretty simply principle.

  32. Trent Hill

    “that’s an easy way to make me look bad, but there are situations where the mother would be hurt if she had the baby. Or what about incest, rape, or something along those lines? You don’t think it’s justified to have an abortion then, for the mother’s sake? ”

    This is not what you said at all, although we can certainly argue it.

    You said, “But people do support the mother’s right to chose and the idea of valuing the mother’s life more than a barely developed embryo’s life.”

    So say it honestly–do you respect the the life of a mother more than the life of a “barely developed embryo”?

  33. G.E.

    Ross – Why not let the U.N. make the laws then? How can you say you’re not for “imposing your views on others” and that I am, when I want people to decide at the most local level possible, and you want things to be decided for them at the highest, most elite and remote level possible?

    Overturning Roe v. Wade does NOT mean “banning abortions.” It means upholding the Constitution and republican principles of self government. You would have been a Torrie during the Revolution, Ross.

    Absolutely ridiculous to suggest the NI4D wouldn’t “impose beliefs on others” but overturning Roe would. Have you read 1984? You sound like a character in it. Up is down.

  34. G.E.

    I’m in favor of making abortion legal up until one year after birth. We need to get the government out of family and personal matters.

    The sad thing is, I’m betting he’s not joking.

  35. G.E.

    If you’re referring to my quote, it was Galaleo who said it, not Ross.

    Very interesting how Ross condemns Kevorkian for aiding the sick in ending their lives of their own volition, while supporting the act of ripping an infant’s limbs off inside the womb.

  36. Galileo Galilei

    Since abortion is a divisive topic, I’d be in favor of this solution:

    Whenever a woman goes to the doctor and pays for an abortion, the State would do a coin flip;

    if heads, the woman wins and she gets her abortion.

    if tails, the baby wins, and the doctor must refund her money, no abortion.

    This would cut abortions by 50%, but would also maintain some choice.

  37. Ross Levin Post author

    1. I don’t condemn Kevorkian. I just think he doesn’t have the best of reputations.

    2. My ideal government, very simplified – most issues should be dealt with on a local, meaning town-by-town, basis. Then countywide issues by the county, statewide by the state, and nationwide by the federal government. Have you heard about the new arrangement in Somalia? Something like that, I guess. With, of course, citizen participation on all levels (just like the Ni4D says).

    3. I said that thing about state legislatures, because I don’t understand the states’ rights argument. Yes, it’s more local, but it’s still very alienated from the public. The government of California or Tennessee or even a small state like Wyoming are large enough to be their own federal government, with enough corruption to be convincing in the part.

    4. Trent, I would rather have an embryo aborted than a mother die.

  38. Trent Hill

    “4. Trent, I would rather have an embryo aborted than a mother die.”

    So one life is worth more than another?

    Besides, you dont just think that about “embryos”. You said earlier,
    “I’m in favor of making abortion legal up until one year after birth. We need to get the government out of family and personal matters”

    So the life of a mother is more important than a 1 year old childs. Got it.

    This is now a civil rights issue. Just like the White Supremacists in the early 1900s thought Whites’ lives were more important than blacks, you think the lives of older people are more important than those of newborns.

  39. Trent Hill

    HAHAHA. I know Ross, but its much funnier this way.

    At any rate–you believe that the lives of mothers are more important than the lives of embryos. (I use the word “lives” because you did earlier).

  40. langa

    “My ideal government, very simplified – most issues should be dealt with on a local, meaning town-by-town, basis. Then countywide issues by the county, statewide by the state, and nationwide by the federal government.”

    Should global issues be handled by a world government?

  41. George Donnelly

    Some people MUST keep their phones on at all times in case of some personal or professional emergency. They pay for phone service exactly for this purpose.

    The phone system is a privately run, so no rights are involved. It all depends on the terms under which the phone service vendor sells you said service.

    Therefore, you have no right to make a phone call and making a phone call is not a question of free speech.

    Claiming a right to free speech on someone else’s property is decidedly and extremely UN-libertarian.

    Shame on you GE for bringing government into the privately-run phone system. You’re a phone-grabber. (Only half-joking)

    Robo-calls aren’t really like spam, because what makes an email communication spam is that the receiver pays to receive it.

    With phone calls, the sender pays.

    I said robo calls invade people’s privacy. I did not say they violated anyone’s rights.

    I also argue that they are counterproductive because a lot of people just don’t want to get this kind of crap on their phones. It’s enough to get it via TV, radio, billboards, lawn signs, pamphlets, websites , email and SMS.

    GE what evidence do you have to support your claim that robo-calls are “good” for third-party candidates?

  42. Ross Levin Post author

    George – those statistics are also from states where robocalls are more ubiquitous than anywhere else. Also, most third party candidates are operating on very limited budgets, so robocalls can be a cheap way to reach more voters than they otherwise would reach.

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