The next line to the 5-Man Electrical Band song, alluded to in the title, goes, “Fucking up the scenery, breaking my mind.” I’m starting to feel their pain.
‘Tis the season that yard signs in support of various candidates for political office begin popping up in folks’ yards like dandelions. It may be the contentious times in American politics in which we find ourselves, or it may just be me, but the act of planting one this election season seems much more aggressive, even risky, than it once did. What was once a relatively meek show of support for one’s preferred candidate has morphed into what feels like a full-blown act of belligerent, in-your-face aggression. I have even found myself ridiculously altering my running and/or driving routes just to avoid certain homes and their garish signs.
I mean, “Get a grip, Ty! they’re just signs.”
Although, I’m fairly open regarding my politics, steadfast in my support for policies consistent with them, and more-than-willing to discuss them in the proper forum, I’m just not a yard sign kind of guy. I prefer not to wear my politics on my sleeve, (or on my head, in my car, on my bumper, etc.) especially when remembering that the origin of the quote is the poisonous tongue of one of Shakespeare’s most villainous characters: Iago from Othello. I do, however, recognize and respect everyone else’s prerogative to do so.
A yard sign allows for no dialogue. It has more in common with a “Keep off the Grass!” sign than it does a “Welcome” mat. I can’t discuss the merits of the candidate or his/her policies with the sign’s namesake or its owner as I zoom past. It feels like the sign’s owner is merely shouting a name in my face, which, based on how many modern voters view political support as a devotion to a cult of party-line-towing zombies or to a venom-spitting demagogue, that may be exactly what it’s doing, as if the values, policies, and goals of the promoted candidate are either irrelevant to the sign planter’s support or just too much work to bother parsing for oneself. It’s easier to just shout a name or to flip a finger as one passes.
I, like most people, tend to believe nostalgically that there was a simpler, more wholesome time in America, when a candidate’s yard sign on the lawn was more of a proud display of support, not a less-than-subtle “F-you” to those who oppose the said candidate. Again, maybe I’m just being super-sensitive and misinterpreting the intent. I can only speak to how it feels to me.
It has been a fairly common experience in recent years for folks to become alienated from neighbors, friends (both on and offline), and even family members over who one or both of them support politically. Although I’m pretty sure a yard sign would never cost me any close friends or family, the ties that unite neighbor to neighbor are not typically so ironclad as those of friends and family. And I really like my neighbors, and there are a few I’d still like to know better. I do not agree with all of their politics or the politicians they promote, but I want to keep living harmoniously with them and attending the occasional, impromptu “blocktail” party with them.
So, you go ahead and drive those signs into the ground. As for me, I’m going to keep looking for the ground that is common.
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