Today's Paper Obits Today's Photos Razorbacks Sports OPINION: Learning by example Outdoors Crime Weather Puzzles

"Standing on the corner watching all the cars go by," keeps repeating in my head. OK, I know the Dean Martin song was about watching girls, not cars, but Dean wasn't singing while holding a poster in an election year.

Being active in political campaigns causes us to do things we might not like to do. For example, my deep opinions and passions on certain issues are highly motivating and have recently caused me to stand in the cold with a sign, flashing a smile and waving at passing cars. Since I'd much rather be reading a book by the fireplace, campaigning requires me to instead do some heavy lifting off my backside. However, the mindless physical work of being a human signpost does lend itself to inner reflection.

One of my first internal questions is whether all the poster making, volunteer gathering, and street standing really makes a whit of difference to undecided voters? Pondering that naturally leads to, "Why would it?"

I've always had a disdain for candidate signs because they are messy and a huge waste of money, materials and time that could be spent doing better things for this world. But, they seem to be an inevitable plague at election time. Again, why?

Do signs in a lot of yards and along roadsides mean the candidate must have strong support to be able to afford these self-promotional ads? Are we confusing quantity of signage with quality of candidate, a "more is better" evaluation? Is it a "who you know" contest where we judge a candidate more by whose yard or business carries their name than from what we know about them? If so, are we letting someone else make our choices because we're too lazy to make our own?

Yet, still I stand on those corners during campaigns, hoping to be the tipping point that causes a vote for my candidate. Thumbs down and other hand gestures along with some occasionally shouted obscenities at least tell me passers-by have an opinion, which, unpleasant as their reality is, at least indicates they're alive and not apathetic. Thumbs up and the occasional friendly beep-beep and hand wave make the hours on the curb not seem so tiresome, adding to the hope that perhaps my sign will make a difference, even for just one vote.

Looking into those faces whipping past, I wonder what issues matter to these people. Are they worried where their rent and food money are coming from, how they'll pay their tuition, if they can find and afford decent child care, what will happen if they get really sick, or if they can get a job with a living wage?

Because of my personal leanings, I also wonder if they ever question the cleanliness of their water, smell the foulness of their cars, grieve over the extinction of hundreds of species, question contamination of food, have a clue that there are thousands of untested chemicals in our environment, or ever give climate change a second thought? Do they know what fracking is, or what lead does to living creatures, or what chemical spills and gas leaks mean to their health, or what the global ramifications are of nuclear accidents and wars, or that the oceans are choking on plastic and pollution? Do they know our forests are clear-cut faster than they can regrow and how basic human needs are connected directly to both forests and the rivers that run through them? Do they know we waste non-renewable resources every single day that can never be replaced on a finite planet? Do they know the globe is so overpopulated we cannot feed the humans here now, much less those coming in the future?

Do they care if money corrupts not only our elections and candidates, but our entire democracy? Do they even know where our country is engaged in military actions or how many people die daily in those battles? Can they fathom what's it like to be a refugee? Do they know the extent of global corporate control over world governments that trade agreements allow, our own government included?

And, do they know that one vote can change the world? The Supreme Court of our nation has molded the laws we live by and die by, and those laws often turn on one vote.

We each have one vote. That's why I go and stand on a corner holding a poster and wave as cars go by.

Commentary on 02/23/2016

Print Headline: Standing on corners

Sponsor Content