Three things are guaranteed every autumn: foliage, county property taxes and political signs.
Much has been made over the “pro-city” versus the “no-city” signs that have been part of our landscape this season. Peachtree Corners was featured on many local newscasts, but quite honestly, not for great reasons. The televised stories were about thefts and vandalism of signs in the area.
In addition to the newscasts, the sign wars have played out in print and on the Web. Everything from claims of being victimized by sign destruction to arguments over where it’s legal to place the signs have been part of many comment sections on this site and others over the past few weeks.
One earlier blog post said it all: "We are better than this.” It’s disheartening to see any sign destruction in this area leading any local newscast.
Certainly the sign wars are nothing new to any of America’s metro areas. I have been here for over 22 years and I have seen it played out many times. Recently, a certain mayoral candidate near the metro area was caught stealing his opponent’s signs and was duly reprimanded for his heinous actions.
On the one hand, the signs are good for free speech and democracy. They get people to ask questions and to go to the polls. Being too busy to pay attention to the issues of the day is synonymous with suburbia, but at the end of the day, citizens ought to pay attention to what is going on around them. On the other hand, the sheer number of signs gets out of hand and creates conflict. But with anything in this life, the good always comes with the bad.
Still, the 20-year-old question, “Can’t we all just get along?” is typically summoned during these tense moments, but for many, it’s largely ignored and replaced with personal agendas that trump that simple thought. It would be an interesting psychological study to discover why anyone would vandalize or steal opponents’ political signs. Perhaps the perpetrators feel empowered, righteous, fearful, all of the above?
So, November 8th will come and go and (hopefully) so will the signs. But, we won’t be spared for long. The year 2012 will be upon us with a bevy of political races on the national, state and local levels. I shudder to think how our landscape will look next year at this time. Hopefully, the sign wars will be a bit more civil in autumn 2012.