Signs of the Election Times

[catch-phrase] –noun 1. a phrase that attracts or is meant to attract attention.

[prop-uh-gan-duh] -noun 1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

It’s election time again, which means a surfeit of signs that say nothing but a name, an elected office, and maybe a catchy slogan. That’s democracy in action: make your name a brand, and hope folks buy solely because of brand-name recognition.

No wait, that’s capitalism.

Oh, no, wait. I was right the first time. Democracy.

It bothers me no end. In the information age, there’s no excuse for not pointing people to a source of more information. Instead of saying “DONALD DUCK FOR MAYOR,” or maybe “Donald’s a Do-er!”, the sign should give an address to a website, like “whydonaldduck.com” and a call to action.

I'm proud of the patriotic little hat

So why don’t politicians do this? Don’t they want an informed electorate?

Um, perhaps not.

Of the people who go to a site to learn more about a candidate, how many are going to agree with every stance the candidate has? Such a site could cost a politician votes. Maybe folks would’ve voted for them because their party affiliations match, but now they’re dissuaded by something as awful as issues.

So, instead of trying to educate, most politicians content themselves with signs. Why? Maybe because it works. People tend to vote with the herd — if we see more signs for Donald than for Daffy, we trust our neighbors’ opinions and go with the flow. Don’t we? Some of us, at any rate?

I think that’s part of why we form political parties. Candidate A is my guy! No matter that his integrity is questionable, or that his views don’t quite align with what I thought this party stood for… he’s MY guy! Root, root, root for the home team! Us vs. Them!

Sports fanaticism is a lot like political fanaticism. People stick to their party rather than considering individual candidates. Last night, Elder Uchtdorf said:

I’ve always loved participating in and attending sporting events, but I confess there are times when the lack of civility in sports is embarrassing. How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans. I have watched sports fans villify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill-fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice.

My dear brethren, unfortunately, we see today, too often, the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.

-October 2, 2010 Priesthood Session of General Conference

Couldn’t have said it better. Which is why I quoted it.

If more educating signage isn’t available, should you not show your support? Nah, showing your support is fine. If you truly want your candidate to win, you’ll want votes from the herd, too. Why let the opposing candidate nab the lots cast by the herd-voters?

However! Wouldn’t you like to educate folks as well? Wouldn’t you like to raise some herd-voters, some party-line voters, up to the level of educated, informed electors?

I say, if you’re going to do a sign, do a blog post as well. Not web-savvy? Don’t have a blog? Fine, go create a one-post blog at blogger.com. You could add a link to your post to that sign in your front yard.

(Oh, need a nice, short link folks can remember? Go to bit.ly, where you can plug in the link for your post, and create a more succinct link. They let you customize your link, too. Like this post, for example. Bit.ly assigned me the link bit.ly/d5ZoOV, but I created a customized link of bit.ly/electionsigns. The latter is just short enough folks might remember it. Took me 10 seconds.)

In all things, I think we should avoid mob mentality. And we should remember that God isn’t registered to either political party.

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