They are green and blue and yellow. They loudly proclaim “Re-Elect Sam Katz” or “Judy for Mayor!” They are a mixture of plastic and sawdust. And they squat at the edges of suburban lawns, flashing passers-by.
They are those damned election signs, and I hate them!
The strange thing is, I have a difficult time explaining why. It’s no lie. I harbor a fiery, passionate hatred for these bright political weeds — infesting lawns like dandelions. But when I examine my emotions from a rational point of view, I cannot determine precisely the source for such an irrationally strong reaction to cardboard.
My tumultuous emotions cannot be pinned down, but there are a couple of characteristics of these sings that evoke startling bolts of irritation.
First, I feel they are a form of advertising, and advertisements seek to persuade. Advertising peppers our daily life more frequently than we can register, flickering like a big capitalist strobe light. And now, even our front lawns are in on it: a green and grassy billboard for ambitious politicians.
The letters assault my eyes, shouting, “Vote for me,” “No! Vote for Me!”
Cruising past, I am deeply tempted to holler back, “No, thank you!” But that would be crazy . . .
I think my hackles go up when confronted by these signs because they are telling me, insisting that, I should vote for their candidate.
The signs do not read, “I support Sam Katz.” Because, as far as I am concerned, you may support whomever you wish, so long as your reasons for doing so are sound. These mini-billboards tell me to “Elect Judy!”
They do not ask me politely. They do not say please. The do not quietly inform me that this particular homeowner supports Judy Wasylycia-Leis. They do not prompt me to come and sit down for a cup of coffee, over which we could discuss why Judy or Katz is a legitimate candidate.
Instead, they insist that I vote for whichever name is painted to their face. Somehow, I find it offensive when a sign tells me how to vote.
This leads me to my next quarrel with the signs: they make a political statement, without any supporting evidence. Whenever political conversation arises, the topic is treated with a degree of seriousness, elevated above everyday conversation. Voting is a right to which everyone is entitled and it is a responsibility that people should take very seriously. When you decide to vote for one candidate, or another, you should have very good reasons for doing so. “My dad is Conservative” or “Judy is a chick. That’s cool” just do not cut it. If these political signs are going to insist that I vote for their candidate, the least they could do is provide me a blurb about why this is a good idea. Each sign, as far as I am concerned, should come with a big black sharpie.
This seems a minor objection in the larger scheme of the politics of the upcoming election in Winnipeg. But please, if you are going to flaunt a colourful sign, do so having solid grounds for promoting this candidate. Know you are making me, personally, crazy! So please, do so for good reasons.