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The candidate you need to clean up this mess is right in front of you.

March 18, 2020

      In a recent whine-soaked column, we decried the way winning political candidates call you, court you and then cavalierly cast you aside after corralling your cash or your vote.

      I mentioned, only incidentally, that I once ran for the Rockingham City Council. Even though, as noted, I only received 14 votes, a groundswell of The Saunders Report readers has risen, urging that I run again. 

      Okay, it wasn't a groundswell: it was four people.

      Three?

      Two?

      Would you believe one?

      All right, all right: it was just me - and I butt-dialed myself and figured that since I had myself on the line, I might as well say something.

      During my first foray into politics, I was so fresh-faced and innocent that I couldn't even grow a mustache: the one on the poster was drawn on using my aunt's eyeliner. Up close, I looked like Groucho Marx.

      Fake mustache or not, Rockingham voters were so unswayed by my Wilson Pickett-inspired campaign slogan - Elect a Man and a Half - that I vowed to never run for office again.

      Until now. After listening to the people clamoring for my return, I realized that there is an environmental issue that resonates with the residents of Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and every other municipality that has an election.

      Plastic-choked oceans?

      No.

      Unbreathable air?

      Negative.

      Radiation underground and in the sky?

      Nope, again. 

 

      Important though those environmental issues are, rectifying them will require years of concerted effort and billions of dollars.

      The issue to which I refer stares us in the face each time we leave home, but can be handled by a single dedicated public servant.

      My fellow Americans, I'm talking about the plague of the scenery-befouling eye pollution caused by campaign yard and roadside signs that linger long after the last campaign pledge has been broken. 

      As a candidate for the N.C. Office of P.L.U.C.K. - Prompt Liquidation of Ubiquitous Campaign Klutter* - I pledge to make it my mission to eradicate these signs that stay up days, weeks, even months after the election.  If elected, I vow to remove every sign from every yard, right-of-way and sidewalk within one week after the last vote has been tallied. The office will pay for itself in fines collected from candidates who refuse to remove their signs in a timely manner.

      Not only that, but scientists are diligently at work trying to find a way to convert the signs into reusable energy.

      No longer will you be confronted by the smiling or somber or winsome or stern visages of candidates who've promised to do everything except cure the heartbreak of psoriasis. I ask you: "If they can't get their signs down in a timely manner, how are they going to make your life better?"

      When did it become obvious that unclaimed campaign signs were a problem?

      When I saw one the other day touting Calvin Coolidge.

      Here's my new campaign slogan:

      The best person to run the office of PLUCK

      Is a man like me who gives a darn.

      Not only do campaign signs clutter up yards and public lands, but most damningly, they don't work. Columbia University researchers last year found that having yard signs out in force increased voter share by a minuscule 1.7 percent.

      One problem, they said - and one to which I can attest - is that the signs are expensive and can easily be vandalized or stolen.

      That's what happened to mine: as soon as I put up a sign, it disappeared.

      I deluded myself into believing that adoring fans considered the candidate with the dashing mustache staring out at them was too handsome to leave unattended on a telephone pole and thus snatched them to take home and frame.

      Nah. Some kid who loved Groucho thought I was mocking him.

      The late Georgia Gov. Marvin Griffin was renowned for his expansive , well-attended pig pickin's prior to elections. After losing re-election, Gov. Griffin solemnly lamented "Some of the people who ate my barbecue didn't vote for me."

      Same with signs: Just as everybody who eats your barbecue isn't going to vote for you, neither is everyone who allows you to put your sign in their yard.

*There is presently no state Office of P.L.U.C.K., but wait until I pitch it to Gov. Cooper.

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