It’s that time of year again–elections are just around the corner. And on just about every corner in my neighborhood (and many places in between) is a campaign sign asking you to vote for someone you’ve likely never heard of, for an office you hadn’t realized wasn’t something that was make believe. These signs are a terrible eyesore. They make it look as though every house on the block is for sale. Each sign tries to outdo the other in catching the attention of a passerby, so even the coloring is not subtle. They might as well string billboards up around the neighborhood too while they are at it.
But that’s small-town politics, I suppose, when campaign war chests are measured in terms of hundreds or thousands of dollars, instead of millions.
Another side-effect of small-town politics is that the politicians go door-to-door asking you for your vote. If you are not home, they leave behind leaflets that clutter your mailbox, or end up spread across your lawn. If you are unlucky enough to be home, they smile and want to shake your hand and ask you all kinds of questions to which they always agree with the answers, and finally, they ask for your vote. I have a little fantasy about this type of conversation, so if you will indulge me for just a moment…
“What is it,” the candidate asks, “that you would like to see done to make this town a better place?”
I think about this for a moment and say, “Well, I’d like to see you get some business into the town center. It’s been empty for four years. And I mean empty. I’ve seen ghost towns in Arizona that have looked more alive than our town center.”
“Well,” the candidate says, smiling, “it just so happens that I have a plan which wil…”
I tune out while he explains his plan. I can’t bear to listen to proposals and plans like this. I want action. I’d love to hear one of these guys say: “When I get in office I will do the following things to make that happen: 1. Immediately hire a…” and so on.
“One of my goals,” the candidate is saying, “is to really clean up this town.”
I raise an eyebrow, “Well, you can start with all of the campaign signs that are growing like weeds around here. Isn’t there something in the code enforcement that says weeds grown higher than 7 inches are a violation of city code?”
The candidate smiles nervously. “So, can I have your vote?” he asked. This is another one of those things that bugs the heck out of me. How can one decide, after listening to five minutes of hooey, whether this guy is right for office or not. I need information. I need to see how he’s voted on various bills in the past. I need to see how he’s acted when people weren’t looking. I need to know this guy better.
But a simple test might do the trick, one that will see just how dedicated and creative he is. So I smile slyly and say, “Tell you what, my friend. You get all of these ugly looking campaign sign-weeds cleaned up between now and tomorrow morning, you’ve got my vote guaranteed. If the signs are still there in the morning, I’m voting for the other guy.”
Clearly, it’s just a fantasy. But oh how I wish it were so!