What a gift this autumn has been. Balmy temperatures and gentle breezes have adorned our neighborhood in reds, yellows and gold. Soon, arctic winds will pillage trees of their foliage, leaving them naked, trembling in the frigid air … .
My apologies for the bad nature imagery. Why do neighborhoods really look better this fall? Fewer lawn signs.
I loathe lawn signs. I hate them more than Trump’s hair, Clinton’s e-mails, and Gary Johnson’s blank stares. Like a bad zit, these crass cardboard creations — some approaching billboard size — deface and cheapen our neighborhoods.
Beyond their ugliness, I don’t like what lawn signs say about the candidate and those planting the signs.
First, the candidate. What connection is there between good governance and the size and quantity of lawn signs? If anything, “more-bigger” equals waste, tackiness, and, worst of all, a complete lack of creativity. I’ve been nominated? Better make lawn signs!
In my neighborhood, the worst offender is one-time Republican, now Democrat, state Rep. Ron Erhardt. While I disagree with his politics, Erhardt is a good man and I give him credit for his lifetime commitment to Minnesota politics.
But, Ron, enough with the signs! They are too big and too many.
I guess lawn sign logic goes something like this:
“Look honey, the Smiths are supporting candidate X. The Smiths are friendly people … and keep their lawn nicely manicured. X must be a good choice.”
“I don’t know who to vote for. This guy has a gazillion lawn signs. I’ll vote for him.”
So why do we acquiesce and let candidates advertise in our yards? In my old New Jersey neighborhood, I don’t recall any lawn signs. We had vague notions of how our neighbors voted, but preferences back then were relatively private. I long for those days — and not just because I hate lawn signs. The political leanings of my neighbors are none of my business — and I prefer to keep it that way.
There is another downside in committing to a candidate so overtly. In this age of Facebook and Twitter, a lawn sign can become embarrassing overnight. Think about all those poor New Yorkers who staked their claim — and lawn signs — on Anthony Weiner. When your candidate self-destructs, I think you should be required by law to post an “Oops” or “Never Mind” lawn sign for 30 days. Freedom of speech should come with a price.
Here is the silver lining of this year’s depressing election season. Except in the case of Erhardt, lawn sign usage is way down, because few of us are passionate about either presidential candidate. Just this week, two consecutive Star Tribune headlines said it all: “55% say Trump unfit for the job” and “54% fault Clinton over e-mails.” The crazy part of the latter headline was the attempt to soften the sting: “But 60% disagree with Trump’s comment about putting her in jail.” So 40% want her locked up?
Unfortunately, this year’s respite from lawn signs may be an aberration. In 2008 and 2012, ardent supporters of Obama-McCain and Obama-Romney carpet bombed the nation with signs proclaiming “Yes We Can,” “Country First,” and “Believe in America.”
Nice slogans, but I prefer to “Keep America Beautiful” — by keeping politics off my lawn.
Jim Triggs lives in Edina.