The Pox of Political Yard Signs

Not long ago I had myself a little rant about why we should boycott all paid political ads.

How’s it going? I hope you’re still with me on that one.

Today I want to rant about the stupidest paid ads of all: yard signs. I mean, why?

Seriously: why?

I don’t know which is worse: that politicians waste their hard-raised soft money on those landfill-stuffers, or that real human beings might have their minds influenced by seeing nothing more than a candidate’s name spammed across a neighborhood.

Does anyone actually go to the polls thinking “well, I saw 16 signs for Jack Jenson but 23 signs for Jen Jackson, so now I know who to vote for”? If they did, I’d want to move to North Korea.

The truth about these signs might be even more depressing. Supposedly, these signs (along with other political messages) create something called “name recognition.” This is believed to work by subconscious association, duping voters into picking the names they’re most familiar with, because familiar means comfortable.

Not for issues. Not for voting records or endorsements. People are voting for subconscious familiarity.

No wonder this is the worst system in the world except for all the other ones!

We need to drive a stake through the heart of the blood-sucking “name recognition” monster, because it’s draining the life out of our democracy. We can do better. We can be smarter.

Here’s my system: whenever you see one of those signs, turn the name into a joke. When I see a sign for “Jackson,” I think “Junk-son.” If a candidate’s name is “Judge,” I think the yard owner should have used better judgment. On my way to work, I pass by one sign for a guy named “Hussey” and the joke writes itself.

Doing this converts name recognition into name repugnance. If we all do it, this part of the advertising campaign will backfire.

Wouldn’t that be something? At the next election, there will be some very confused candidate saying “But I put out four million yard signs, how come I didn’t win?”

If that happens, maybe the candidates will start focusing on issues rather than wasting campaign contributions on meaningless garbage and psychological tricks. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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