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Hey Joe, How about calling now that you've got our vote and money?

I... I feel so used, so cheap.

For a few weeks I was - and if you've paid your phone bill, you were, too - among the most popular people in America as political candidates bombarded North Carolina registered voters with unsolicited emails, texts and telephone calls, you know, just to check on us, to see how our mama and nem were doing and ask if they could count on our vote and a campaign donation.

Not gonna lie: as someone whose phone usually only rings when it's someone trying to sell me burial insurance or a neighbor telling me to turn down the volume on my Teddy Pendergrass greatest hits album, I felt suddenly popular when Chad from Elizabeth Warren's campaign called to make sure I got to the polls on or before Super Tuesday.

And Karen was the personification of sincerity when she called to remind me that Bernie really needs my support. "Hi, Barry," she said, sounding so familiar that I briefly thought we used to sit at the same table in the high school cafeteria. "Are you in for Bernie?"

Ol' Kyle was very believable when he informed me - via text - that Joe Biden was counting on me. He even told me where my polling station was and what time it closes.

Why, I swear, after talking to other North Carolina residents and comparing their experience to mine, it was almost as though we Tar Heel voters were the belles of the ball. Everyone, it seemed, cared about us.

Alas, the clock has struck 7:30 p.m. - which is when the polls closed on the Democratic primary - and the ball has ended.

No more unsolicited calls, no more texts inquiring about how we're doing.

Is it still over,

Are we still through?

Since my phone still ain't ringin'

I assume it still ain't you.

Randy Travis.

It's understandable if the losing candidates flush our phone numbers down the toilets of their memories: As a former losing political candidate - I received 14 votes in my bid for the Rockingham City Council in the 1980s - the last thing I wanted to do was talk to any of the people who didn't vote for me.

It will be a big mistake, though, if Biden's people and he - after securing our support - suddenly go M.I.A., too.

Money is, unfortunately, the mother's milk of political campaigns, so it's naive to blame candidates for asking us to church up. The problem arises when you only hear from them when they have their hands out. Every winning candidate who texts, calls or robocalls your crib asking for moolah should also text, call or robocall afterwards to say "Gracias" and ask what issues are most important to you. ("Joe, if you become president, can you do something about a neighbor who turns his Teddy Pendergrass albums up way too high?")

Even though we know they're going to ask, nobody wants to be seen as just a checkbook for someone's political aspirations.

Many of us have a friend whose favorite phrase is "Say man, let me hold $5 'til Friday."

"Say man, let me hold $5 'til I become become president" isn't much better.

Recently retired radio disco jockey Tom Joyner once spoke of a friend who begged so much that his hands were shaped like cups. If a certain presidential candidate isn't careful, he could become known as Cups Biden.

The day after the election, some of us received from Biden 2020 an email containing not a hint of foreplay or chit-chat. Dude went right for the gusto:

"Super Tuesday is over, the dust has settled, and after winnowing a field of 28 candidates, this race has essentially come down to Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders.

"Will you chip in $5 to make sure our nominee is Joe Biden?...

"We know we send a lot of emails, and we are sorry about that. The reason? We are relying on grassroots supporters like you (we’re serious!)."

C'mon, Joe and all the winning candidates. Call a brother - just to chat - and say "thank you."




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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