If you’re of a like age, surely you remember one of the counter-culture anthems of my anti-establishment youth, “Signs,” from the Canadian group Five Man Electrical Band.
At Miami University, my buds and I all were singing the lyrics in ’71, reveling in our youth and musically railing against “The Man,” anticipating his attempts to “keep us down” as he had so many others, that is as soon as we stopped catching some rays on the porch roof at the SigEp House and snagging some 3.2 brews at The Purity.
Well, this morning, I am thrilled that the signs I have been looking at in the yards that I can’t help but see (although I have tried), those signs endorsing either one of the two duos who have been vying for the White House since the conclusion of the Republican and Democratic conventions this past summer will soon be gone.
We have ourselves a president and VP, and, because I’m still a pretty busy guy on the labor front and writing my column early, I really don’t know what tandem that is on this 15th of October evening following a beautiful fall day. But, I can guess.
While what has happened is indeed historic, no doubt, I think our reality has resulted from, without question, the American public voting against someone rather than enthusiastically for someone else.
Pat yourselves on the back, folks. I think deep down you know, regardless of whether you have Democratic leanings or affiliate yourself with the Grand Old Party that appears to be in such serious disarray, that you have essentially marched to the closet and held up two shirts, both exceedingly dirty, and selected the one that seemed to smell a tad less offensive.
Sure, it was certainly interesting, with the three debates garnering some of the largest TV ratings ever for the squabbles, with much of the content having zero to do with issues that should affect each and every one of us and far more to do with who groped whom and who enabled spouses in groping and then targeted those who were groped in vicious fashion just to remain politically relevant. But, my don’t you simply feel as if we, the collective embodiment of America, were simply left out of the entire political equation?
From the line of accusers from years ago who spoke of octopus arms of one who thought an airplane was the right place for foreplay to the barrage of WikiLeaks emails that validated the concerns of so many who felt uncomfortable with choosing a couple who have three decades’ worth of experience crawling around in the muck that covers the political arena, it seems amongst all that vitriol, it’s hard to spot a winner. I’m guessing it surely wasn’t Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, regardless of whether you tune in to MSNBC or Fox News for your political updates.
As for those signs, while I have periodically planted some political signs in my yard, from Republican Matt Huffman to Democrat Tom Tebben, both of whom I felt had gone into politics for more right reasons than wrong ones, let me tell you I would absolutely never have considered planting a presidential-choice sign this campaign season.
To me, a planted sign suggests more than merely an indication of a voting choice. Rather, it suggests a high degree of enthusiasm for a candidate. It’s my belief that the myriad Clinton-Kaine signs and Trump-Pence signs belied the tepid votes cast either during the early-voting phase or Tuesday.
In other words, I have to believe other forces were at play for those signs other than a rock-solid ardent belief that either one of these tickets could extricate ourselves from what ails us as a nation. Listen, I’ve seen enough lawn decorations of wooden geese with furiously rotating wings when the wind increases and legions of ceramic gnomes and deer to know that there are those who really enjoy decorating their plot of turf.
However, for me, this wasn’t the year. As for their effectiveness, political scientists are split on how effective political signage is. Many who study such things point to the late 1960s when the GOP mayoral candidate in Chicago, John Warner, positively covered the Second City with signs, only to lose in such convincing fashion that three of every four votes cast were for Richard J. Daley. However, others feel that name recognition is an important byproduct of candidate signage and adds support.
Hmm, somehow I don’t think, given the number of controversies and scandals in which our main-party flag bearers engaged, that name recognition was an issue. We certainly knew who they are and were for a long, long time.
So, for me, today is my own independence day. The air smells sweeter, and the clouds are parting … and soon, those damn signs will all be gone. And, to that I say, “Hallelujah!”
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]