Tacoma is a small town, and political seasons pass over us like storms, leaving debris and memories.
If you judged most neighborhoods (and political sentiment) by political signs, youd be forgiven for thinking you had been dropped in the most conserva-tive town in Washington. But are signs really a political barometer?
Romney/Ryan signs are visible by the dozens. But where are the Obama signs?
I was going to estimate there were 10, maybe 20 Romney signs to every Obama sign, but then I realized that I have only seen one (!) Obama sign anywhere in town.
Is Romney really that much more popular here? Or are Obama signs stolen as soon as they are put up? (That was true in my neighborhood four years ago.)
Do Obama supporters just assume that he will win?
I see about an equal number of Romney and Obama car stickers. Does that mean that people are willing to make a public statement in support of Obama, but not in front of their homes? Are we really that afraid of offending or alienating our neighbors?
Washington is not a swing state, and presidential candidates pay little attention to us, and that may be why we pay little attention to them. This is almost certainly a good thing; who needs nasty presidential attack ads?
For better or worse, our negative campaigns are all local. Those who attack and malign, and those who are attacked, are our friends and neighbors people many of us know and work with.
Negative campaigns make us all look bad, and they rarely inspire us to vote for either candidate.
The polls tell us this will be a close election, but not because voters are passionate about their candidates. In fact we have a raging enthusiasm gap.
Unfortunately we dont seem to be having a fear or alarmist gap; almost everyone I talk to tells me how terrified they are with the prospect of those people getting elected.
But when its all over, we expect our political leaders to get to work, and for better or worse, well do it all again in a few years.
Four years ago many of us voted for hope and change. Thats what we wanted and still want. But both political parties seem mired in their stale talking points.
I dont have any political yard signs because I dont like slogans or litter even on a stick.
We used to call them yard signs because people had them in their yards, but most signs I see are in public spaces or along roadsides. In a yard, a sign shows our support. But in a public space, especially as the political season progresses, signs are clutter if not a hazard.
Some signs are left out weeks after the election. These soggy, dirty placards are like remnants of a public hangover. The partys over, and no one wants to clean up.
Yard signs are fine, but if you want my vote, respect public spaces, dont make a mess or hazard, and put them away when you are done.
Id like to see something completely different. How about a Batman-style logo across the evening sky?
Instead of seemingly endless mailers or robo calls, how would precinct pizza parties work?
What if political campaigns competed in making the most lasting civic memorial by adopting a street or neighborhood as many local groups do?
What if our neighborhood potholes were fixed by a particular candidate? Id take pothole repair over attack ads any day.
We live in a strange era when corporations are considered people who dominate campaigns, and candidates imagine that we will change our minds based on the most (or most obnoxious) ads.
Fortunately, political signs dont vote, and neither do PACs, intrusive robo calls, insulting television commercials or inflammatory mailings. Only living, breathing citizens vote. For that we should all be thankful.
M. "Morf" Morford of Tacoma is a former News Tribune reader columnist.