Sign Wars

This year, there are Biden/Harris signs; it’s not all Trump, Trump, Trump.

We have also been getting uncoordinated shoveled shit-tons of bulk mail, consisting mostly of lies or vaguenesses printed in large block fonts with stock photography. Seriously, both parties are shit at marketing. You can feel the stupidity of the Trumpists drooling off the page. Trump 2020: No More Bullshit; oh, my goat, you ignorant authoritarian submissive, are you saying you’re voting against Trump, the ur-fountain of bullshit – the black goat of the woods with the thousand young – the burbling well that never shuts the fuck up!? Or, what? I keep thinking about knocking on some people’s doors to ask them but there are a lot of guns around here and anyone stupid enough to put that sign in their yard is stupid enough to think homicide is justified response to political snark. The Biden signs are as exciting as processed American Cheese Food, which makes sense because that’s what Biden’s head appears to be sculpted from. What bothers me is that these elections supposedly cost BILLIONS of dollars, which means that the “new media” majors that you wished would shut the fuck up when you were an undergrad with a writing seminars major are making gigantic amounts of money peddling this mass of uncreativity when they’re barely good enough at marketing communications to be drawing smiley faces on Starbucks coffee cups. I don’t begrudge them the money, but one of the unfortunate side-effects of this two-party system is that one side is going to win and the marketing idiots who designed these shitty messages are going to take it as validation that they won and we’ll have decades more of it and they’ll be insufferably patting themselves on the back for their perspicacity when really all that drove the campaign was “palatable” versus visceral loathing.

Imagine my joy when I saw one fellow traveler:

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the sign war is that people go around defacing the other side’s signs. I saw one Biden sign that someone had spraypainted “fuck” across; that was also, no doubt, some marketing genius. It has become emblematic to me how mediocre this election is, and what a basically shitty bunch of people make up the US political class. It makes me wish that maybe we hadn’t stopped the other kids from beating up the one who wanted to be “class president” back when they were trying to indoctrinate us with the idea that democracy was not a futile masturbatory exercise.

------ divider ------

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. The whole thing with my ankle/gout made me just sit around on the bed, sulking and reading books on edged weapons design, instead of doing anything useful. And, I think that – rightly – the politics of “getting the vote out” combined with “suppressing the vote” make for such a compelling story it’s like watching a documentary about the 9/11 terrorists flying those planes into buildings on the in-flight video system of a plane you’re flying on, while you’re flying into a building. It rivets my attention, to no useful point whatever. It reminds me of importance of being creative and trying to make things you think are beautiful, and can believe in, because right now this world is full of people creating things that are ugly and even they don’t believe in (or they’re stupid enough to believe their own bullshit) It’s hard, right now, to gin up the energy to put one foot in front of another.

One thing that I see as a possible silver lining: the electorate appears to be good and pissed off about vote suppression. Its possible that both parties will go “whoah that seems to have boomeranged” when they notice that all they managed to accomplish was bringing a huge number of voters up off the couch to stand in line.


  1. komarov says

    “One thing that I see as a possible silver lining: the electorate appears to be good and pissed off about vote suppression. Its possible that both parties will go “whoah that seems to have boomeranged” when they notice that all they managed to accomplish was bringing a huge number of voters up off the couch to stand in line.”

    And one of them – maybe both – will think they caught the damn stick and think, “Hell, yes, stay the course and full steam ahead.” The beauty of a two-party system is that you can never tell both sides they’re doing things wrong. Add a little self-delusion and it’s no wonder things go sideways and start to spiral out of control. I genuinely think that if you challenged both parties to name their biggest mistake in the past few decades they simply wouldn’t understand the question. Perhaps worse, they might think the answer is simply, “we lost the #### election.”

    Incidentally, the whole US signage thing seems strange to me. Defacing your lawn or flowerbeds with some drab bit of wood and cardboard? No thanks. Besides – this is probably just me – such political enthusiams is completely alien to me. Fine, when the time comes I’ll vote for the people who seem to be closest to reasonable and aren’t too obviously corrupt, but I’m not wearing the shirt or putting stickers on anything. It’s usually just a matter of time before I have cause to regret my choice.

    I can relate to your frustration not making anything. Not that I could do anything at the moment, but I should have two or three silly ideas for poorly crafted wood contraptions by now and become anxious over about the backlog for when I can do something, but my mind is blank. So instead I’m anxious about not doing anything when I do have the opportunity. What a waste of time that is going to be. Come on brain, back to work…

  2. says

    I have been seriously considering taking out a full page in our local newspaper and writing a little piece entitled, “please don’t be such easy marks” – in which I would explain that neither party can bring back jobs that capitalists exported, how “socialism” is an orwellian buzzword and they need to realize that unions and the military and police and roads are “socialism” (tag line: “we call it ‘sharing'”) and that politicians who say “they will take away your guns” are lying; after all both Obama administrations that were going to take away your guns didn’t lift a finger but the gun manufacturers made hundreds of $mns.

    I’m waiting to hear from them what it’d cost me and if it’s not too bad I’m going to do it. It beats yelling “you kids get offa my lawn!” and waving my cane. (Memo to self: sword cane, Marcus!)

    It’s offensive how stupid everyone is. I don’t think I’m a genius but people need to seriously raise their game about not swallowing these obvious lies without insisting on a bit of chutney. Nobody should be able to say “no more bullshit” without getting fined for being a public hazard.

    I totally hear you about the projects. I have so many things to do and some days all I can manage is “I am gonna grind a flat bevel on this” which is hours of mind-free nonexistence. Or, I nap. I am becoming the master of the huge, slack, snoring stress-nap.

    (Edit: I also would like to scream at the people in Scranton who are telling themself “Biden is one of us!” For fuck’s sake the guy lives in a mansion and got out of Scranton as soon as he could put on shoes. He’s not one of you, he obviously wouldn’t hire you to mow his fucking lawn you suckers!)

  3. anat says

    komarov, when I was living in Israel, (until 2000) people were very politically involved and many had assorted stuff with logos and slogans of political parties or other political organizations (Peace Now, Constitution for Israel, The People with the Golan, etc). Not that many yard signs (because most people live in apartments), but plenty of signs hanging off balconies, t-shirts, stickers on cars, backpacks, sports equipment etc.

    During the Gulf War of 1991, when we were supposed to seal ourselves off in a room whenever Iraq sent a missile our way, somebody joked that they managed to tape their door with bumper stickers without repeating any of them.

  4. kestrel says

    A full page ad is a great idea, but try to not have it look like a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle. In the ad industry we called that “putting 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag”. Asking questions is good: “Do you know what socialism really is?” or some such, and then answering it. It needs to be in short, easily read sections, with clear headlines and bits of text; don’t be afraid of a little white space, it needs to not seem overwhelming. Otherwise people won’t read it…

    That’s kind of the point of signs. They should be really short and easy to read, easy to grasp the concept. Having signs say vague things like “No more bullshit” is simply not going to get across whatever message they are trying to convey. In other words it’s shitty, ineffective advertising. Way to go, idiots who designed the signs.

    Right now I feel like educating people is a waste of time, although that is probably just the way I feel and not actually true. The fact that people deliberately flaunt health guidelines, that could help to prevent them getting sick and even help prevent them dying, amazes me. They surely know germ theory of disease but don’t appear to care, or think they are somehow special and won’t get sick.

  5. says

    Right now I feel like educating people is a waste of time

    That’s the essence of politics, isn’t it? People either need to be educated and think and understand so they can make good decisions, or they need authoritarians to tell them what to do. Authoritarians will always be standing by to just tell people what to do, so well-intentioned people will always need to try to overcome that tendency.

  6. flexilis says

    The big change I have seen this election, at least in my part of West Trumpistan, is the forest of large garish flags. I notice many more of them compared to yard signs. Some are on flagpoles, some on houses, some flapping on pickup trucks. A few businesses have them on fences. At least I don’t see traitors’ stars and bars here.

  7. jenorafeuer says

    The most creative bit of sign defacement I remember was actually in a friend’s yard when I was young, as part of a political disagreement between his parents.

    In the riding of Saanich and the Islands in British Columbia, the 1979 and 1983 provincial elections had a gentleman by the name of John Mika running for the New Democratic Party. His campaign distributed a lot of signs reading ‘I Like Mika’, with ‘Mika’ in big letters and ‘I Like’ above it in smaller letters.

    I went to visit my friend one day to discover that the sign had been modified to read ‘My Wife Likes’ ‘Mika’ with an added third line of ‘I don’t.’

    The next morning a picture of that sign was in the local newspaper. The morning after that the sign was gone.

Leave a Reply