Commentary
5:00 am
Fri July 9, 2010

Richard Crowson: Mushrooms? Or Political Signs?

So my family went out of town for a week and Wichita had a whole lot of rain during that time. There was the usual indicator of too much moisture in Wichita yards: a mushrooming bumper crop of political yard signs.

They seemed to have sprouted up fungus-like on every bare patch of grass. I’ve never quite understood the precise purpose of candidate yard signs. Am I supposed to gauge the merit of a politician by the number of people who have her yard signs erected on their lawns? Is the aesthetic quality of the yard itself supposed to be an indicator of the politician’s qualifications for office? Is the purpose to make a particular name stick in our heads on the chance that once we enter the voting booth we just look for a familiar name like we’re shopping for toothpaste? If someone thinks simply flashing a yard sign at me is going to change the way I vote, what does that say about their assessment of my intelligence?

Perhaps some people just have the urge to tell all the rest of us who they support. I get that. I remember the first election after I had been laid off as cartoonist at The Wichita Eagle – after many years of not being able to put up yard signs because of my newspaper employee status, I opened the floodgates and filled my yard with candidate signs. It felt good for a few days. But then every time I pulled into my driveway I began to get an overwhelming sense of “who the heck cares who I plan to vote for?” I left them up but I doubt I’ll do that again. It didn’t work anyway. Most of my candidates lost as they usually do.

So as the yard-sign toad stools continue to crop up on our lawns, let’s hope the poisonous ones get eliminated. In my case, I’ll let my dandelions tell people all they need to know about my opinion of our candidate choices.