Do We Need All These Signs?

Note: The following came in from a Wyoming Democrat. While we attempt to share work that reflects the WDP platform, you may come across some words that are not exactly what WDP would have written. Perhaps you will agree with what you read below, perhaps not. Your mileage may vary.

By Tim Beppler, Evanston Resident

Editor (of Uinta Herald):

Election season is upon us! In case you have not noticed, election campaign signs have begun to populate our fields of vision, reminding us that the process of selecting our next state legislators and municipal officials has begun in earnest. A more recent phenomenon is people driving through our community waving American flags and those of their preferred presidential candidate.

When I ran for office several years ago, I recall thinking that all this signage simply detracts from the beauty of our community and does little to help voters understand why they should vote for one candidate over another, but I put up signs because that’s what you do when you run for office.

While name recognition is no doubt important, I suspect being elected in Uinta County these days has more to do with party affiliation, or who can convince voters that they are the most conservative or the most patriotic.

One political party is currently dominant in our community (although that was not always the case), so the local political battle lines are drawn by activists in various factions within that party. While it may be entertaining to watch these factions face off against each other, the sad fact is that members of our community and elsewhere are turned off by the bickering and name-calling between these factions and have progressively become more disengaged from politics in general.

A high percentage of our residents do not register to vote, and among registered voters a significant percentage do not vote. Why is that?

I would suggest that at least one reason is that our local and state political discourse tends to focus on issues such as abortion, gun rights, gender identity and the perceived encroachment of government (especially the federal government) on our freedoms, rather than on issues that impact our community members more directly such as the local economy and jobs, access to affordable health care, childcare and housing, and the quality of education in our schools.

More recently, an additional reason may be the attacks on the integrity of the electoral process itself.

This election season, is it too much to ask that we see fewer candidate signs cluttering our community landscapes? Is it too much to ask that we have fewer displays of partisan jingoism and factional infighting on our streets and in social media?

Why not leave decisions about health care and gender identity to the individual and their loved ones? Why not encourage more civil discourse about how to work collectively to produce solutions to the pressing issues in our community?

Why not make it easier for people to register and vote, instead of making it harder or more restrictive? And, while we are at it, why not foster a better understanding of and appreciation for the necessary role of government and institutions such as our judicial system that support and protect our communities?

Tim Beppler