Why Yard Signs?
A 4X8 foot yard sign along Rockwood Blvd devoted purely to name recognition. The candidate doesn't bother to mention he is running for Spokane County Treasurer. Apparently he doesn't even wish his audience to know he is running as a Republican. That information and the reminder that he ran (unsuccessfully) for U.S. Senate in 2012 (in the middle of his Washington State LD6 Senate term) is provided courtesy of back lighting from the afternoon sun.
It is hard to miss the bloom of political yard signs this year in Spokane and all over eastern Washington. For me, the first hint of where we might be headed in 2016 came from a 4X8 foot red "Make America Great Again" sign in a field west of Moses Lake along I-90. In view of that uncomfortable memory. the sheer number of residential yards with Lisa Brown signs in Spokane, eastern Washington's most populous county, is a hopeful sign that speaks of enthusiasm and change.
Especially in midterm (non-presidential) elections turnout depends on awareness of the existence of a real contest. The greater the rivalry in a sporting event, the more people attend, the same with voter participation. Yard signs increase the awareness of rivalry...of possibility. Beyond rivalry comes simple name recognition, especially for down ballot candidates. There is no clearer example of name recognition as a tactic than in the race for Spokane County Treasurer, a race between David Green, a man thoroughly qualified for the job, and Mr. Baumgartner, a career politician looking for a temporary place to light before his next conquest. I have yet to see a Baumgartner yard sign advertising more than his name.
There is a another utility of yard signs. Yard signs informed me that many of my neighbors I imagined were straight-ticket Republicans are actually supporters of Lisa Brown...and staunch critics of the incumbent. People who put out yard signs have an opinion, they have some political awareness, and they are often open to conversation. I am aware folks displaying yard signs for the incumbent have an opinion, too, an opinion to which I am happy to listen, not with much expectation of changing a mind, but to better understand their position. A yard sign can facilitate conversation.
Clusters of yard signs can send several different messages. I have one neighbor who displays a dozen or so political signs in advance of every election. For years they have helped me recognize the names of those for whom I do NOT wish to cast a vote. This year they added the flag-draped cross of a We Believe-We Vote yard sign. For me that sign speaks of a closed mind, a far right ideology that taints the candidates on the associated signs.
I especially notice mixed clusters of signs on residential property. I find it instructive when I see signs in one yard for candidates of both major political parties. Makes me go, "Hmmm." I've met more than a few thoughtful Republicans who could place a sign "Republicans for Lisa Brown."
I have friends who deplore the clutter and visual confusion of political yard signs. Once upon a time I might have agreed with them. No longer. I now view yard signs as promotion of name recognition, and name recognition is the first ingredient to political discussion and awareness.
Joyously add to the clutter! Visit the office at 1507 E. Sprague, make a small donation, pick up a Lisa Brown sign, and display it proudly. Then discuss with your neighbors why you put it up.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. I have a Mary Kuney (R) for Spokane County Commissioner in my yard as by far the better candidate than her opponent, Mr. Chase, a man entwined with the white supremacy of Northwest Grassroots.
P.P.S. I also have a David Green (D) for Spokane County Treasurer sign. His opponent, Mr. Baumgartner, a man of minimal qualifications for the job, is relying solely on name recognition using yard signs recycled from his campaigns for prior offices. Don't let Mr. B get away with it.