Up North And Personal
The Great Newaygo County Political Sign Conspiracy of 2016
By Ken DeLaat
A bit of history first.
From CBS 46, Atlanta Georgia: October 2011.
Until Tuesday, Bobby Sigman, was running for mayor of Covington. That all changed after police released undercover video of Sigman purchasing campaign signs.
Sigman admits to CBS Atlanta's Mike Paluska he is the man in the video captured by an undercover informant, but doesn't go so far as to say he was...
...actually stealing the signs.
"What was your reasoning for taking those signs?" asked Paluska. "I have no earthly idea," said Sigman. "I did not have a reason, no motive, anything.”
Covington police arrested Sigman on Oct. 12. His opponent in the race, candidate Ronnie Johnston, said many of his constituents kept calling him to say their signs were getting stolen. Police said they recovered 68 signs from Sigman's car after purchasing some for $50.
Sigman said it all started as a bad joke that got out of hand.
Uh-huh. Totally believable rationale.
What is it about political signs anyway? A few years back I put pen to paper (well, actually fingers to keyboard I guess) to file a bit of a public grievance over the proliferation of such signs littering the landscape with names of the aspirants for political office. There was mention as to the consistency with regard to color since blue and red combined with a backdrop of white are the predominant choices. It must be assumed that we voters trust anything displaying a couple of our team colors Rarely is there a mix of the two and while attempting to find consistency with regard to the party affiliation members, both sides of our ever widening political chasm seem to embrace either tint.
In the Joe McCarthy era (one of the times when we were perhaps not so great) the paranoia over the presence of communists who had according to old Joe and the sheep in Congress who were equally deluded had infiltrated everywhere, being identified as ‘red’ would not have been conducive to anyone’s overall well-being much less their political future, but color schemes are always changing. If they didn’t I imagine we would still be seeing a multitude of kitchens dominated by avocado-hued stoves and refrigerators.
But I digress.
Locally there has seemed to be, according to the ever-accurate postings on social media, an epidemic of sign-stealing in our community with accusations and counter accusations of this political thievery aimed at nearly all of the candidates in contested races.
Sign-stealing? Really? I mean, first of all, do signs influence a race?
According to what can be found in doing research on this truly fascinating subject signs can account for about a 1-1.7% difference in voter decisions. I know, I know, this hardly seems worth the burglary efforts expended but in the last quadrennial quagmire when nearly all seats are (in theory) up for grabs, there were around 16,000 votes cast for Sheriff though at the time Mike Mercer was running unopposed. The 1% minimum would transfer to 160 votes. In a typical county commission race that draws a couple of thousand or so this might mean 20-25 votes. One can imagine that in a close election these could swing the results to the predominant signage person.
But realistically, is your vote influenced by a sign?
To me they seem to be a declaration of personal voting preferences, an endorsement that sits on your lawn or place of business to let everyone know who you are purportedly casting your lot with. However if you fall in the 1-1.7% who are influenced by such things (and presumably easily drawn in by infomercials as well) sign stealing, once relegated to the baseball diamond, might be a savvy move on the part of a candidate’s supporters.
My questions to those who engage in such surreptitious skullduggery?
Were you sober when this happened?
If no I understand because judgment impairment is the first thing that occurs when imbibing and one hopes you woke in the morning with a raging hangover, saw the sign and thought ‘Oh crap. I better get that thing back somehow (the right thing to do) or toss the evidence (the more popular cowards way out).
If the answer is yes let’s move to question two.
Is sign stealing somehow outside the realm of normal thievery thus not truly a crime but a prank?
If no then you have consciously chosen to break commandment 7 or 8 depending on your religious tradition and are known to simply, uh, steal stuff. In other words you are dishonest and lack true integrity.
If yes is your answer then within you lies the capacity to validate personal behavior that forever remains outside the realm of decency. In other words your thought pattern of rationalization falls precipitously toward ‘the ends justify the means’ a license to engage in any number of inappropriate behaviors with some deluded sense of justice allowing you to remain in some fantasy world involving personal integrity.
Should your chosen candidate win will there be some satisfaction of having had a hand in the victory?
If it’s a no on this one then one assumes you merely have a fascination for political signs as well as an extensive collection of them or perhaps are just prone to some clandestine category of civil disobedience supposedly making a twisted form of anarchist-related statement about elections however misguided and impotent this statement might be.
If it’s yes?
You spend a great deal of time imposing your insipid ideas on social media, believe yourself to be not only clever but of superior intelligence and feel the world would be a better place if folks would just go along with your simplistic ideas of how things ought to be.
In other words to coin a current candidate’s favorite line…
You are a loser
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