“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind.”
As legend has it, Les Emmerson from the Five Man Electrical Band wrote this after traveling on the famed Route 66. Instead of getting his kicks, he found giant billboards standing in the way of the breathtaking scenery the trip offers.
To tell you the truth, I never notice them. I can be traveling along Route 1, which is a billboard bonanza, and be totally oblivious. They don’t block the scenery to me. They are the scenery. And I’ve never stopped long enough to contemplate whether that was simply a fact of life or egregiously unfortunate.
But while I could miss the USA map-sized advertisement for some bank that dares to pretend it has only you, the consumer, on its list of priorities, I can spot the tiniest political sign.
I love political signs, and I don’t care if they’re as big as Texas.
I love driving into Wyoma Square in Lynn late in the afternoon or on a Saturday morning and seeing flocks of people armed with signs backing their candidates; or at the confluence of Dungeon Avenue and Walnut and Myrtle streets and seeing the same.
What prompted this, though, was a drive down Lynnfield Street Friday. The city primary is today, so political sign season is in full swing. What struck me as I plodded along the street — aided and abetted not one single bit by construction that closed off one side — was the fact that every house had a sign. Ev-er-y house.
This reflects, to be sure, a pretty lively at-large race involving highly visible — and very popular — people. And it won’t be sorted out today, because the eight candidates running are guaranteed spots on the November ballot. So the signs aren’t going anywhere, which has to be bad news if you don’t like them.
We also have what is sure to be an old-fashioned mayoral race, and that’s going to go on until November too. More signs. Bring ’em on.
The purpose here is not to advocate, though. I promise to keep my opinions to myself. But the amount of interest in these races, and the willingness for people to show their feelings on them, is heartening.
They shout participation, and if there’s been anything more disheartening, both locally and nationally, than the lack of participation in electoral affairs, I don’t know what it would be.
To me, our worst enemy isn’t Kim Jong Un, or some mullah in Iran, or even Donald Trump (if you’re inclined to see him as such). It’s apathy. It’s people who can’t or won’t take the time to study and understand what’s happening in the world, and check themselves out of the process with the excuse that “it doesn’t matter what I do.”
Hey. It matters. It matters more than you know. At the very least you owe it to yourselves to exercise your right to choose your leaders.
It’s not too late to vote today. If you’re registered, get out there and cast your ballot. Let yourself be heard.
And keep putting up those signs.