Vandalism to campaign signs in Carmel: A column by Adam Aasen

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I told myself I wasn’t going to write about this topic.

Every election, you’ll find stories around the country about candidates’ signs being stolen from yards or vandalized.

It’s a weak topic that most people are tired about hearing about because it’s so… well… petty.

It reminds me of a scene in the Alexander Payne film, “Election,” where Reese Witherspoon’s character Tracy Flick shouts angrily in her quest to become class president, “You’re going to pay for my posters!” to a suspected vandal.

We just feel like there’s better uses of a journalist’s time.

Candidates have posted on their Facebook pages and messaged me that their signs have been damaged or taken down, but I didn’t feel the need to write about it. (Side note: I won’t name campaigns in this blog post so as to avoid the he-said, she-said). Not only are there better things to write about, but you really can’t prove it. I didn’t see the sign before. Strong weather could rip the signs. Maybe it was illegally placed (you can’t put campaign signs in public right of way or government owned land). Maybe the vandalism has nothing to do with dirty politics but it was a teenager playing a prank or a drunk person being destructive.

But then I saw something when I was driving on Sunday that kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

It was beautiful on Sunday. No rain. Only a slight breeze, nothing that would cause damage. I went on a run outside, walked my dog and mowed my parents’ lawn. I was outside a lot and weather wouldn’t damage a sign that day.

There was a very large banner I saw when I was driving somewhere. As a drove back just hours later it was ripped to shreds. Not removed. Just torn to pieces.

If the sign was illegally placed, the street department wouldn’t rip it up, they would have removed it. Someone just damaged it out of spite.

And normally this wouldn’t bother me but for some reason it just really irked me that day.

I won’t caps lock this, but please read this with all emphasis and emotion: Please people, grow up.

Democracy is about being able to have choices. And sometimes you don’t like one of those choices, but you get to vote. And campaign. And donate. And volunteer. And write letters to the editor. And so on and so on.

Why be so childish?

When I did a quick web search to find a bunch of newspaper articles about campaign signs being vandalized, I saw some pretty melodramatic journalism. Writing about it as if it were a earth-shattering scandal. One newspaper wrote, “Just when you thought politics couldn’t get any dirtier, some in a local commissioner’s race say it has.” Give me a break! It’s a sign being removed. Not Watergate.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t annoy me when I see it.

It’s just so needless and immature.

I write all of this because it sums up my feelings about the election so far: I can’t wait until it’s over. And I think every candidate should agree.

I write about City Hall for  Current in Carmel because I love this city and I really am fascinated to learn about its future. I love hearing both sides of an issue and letting each side make their best argument. I like looking at facts and numbers. I like talking to people and hearing about how a 4-3 vote on the Council can affect their lives. In summation, I like policy. But I’m not in love with politics.

I’m still excited to cover election day. I’m excited by the process and we’re dedicated to providing you the most complete coverage possible. But we liked to focus on the important issues at Current in Carmel.

Politics could be able debating these issues and often it is. It can be about showing a distinct contrast between two candidates based on their policy decisions. I thought our recent mayoral debate did an excellent job of showing a contrast between Jim Brainard and Rick Sharp and focused on important issues.

Campaigns are extremely important. But often politics aren’t about policy. It’s about “he-said, she-said.” It’s about gossip and rumors. It’s about petty fighting. It’s about snarky Facebook comments and misleading campaign ads. It could be part of the reason why voter turnout is so low. Some people are just turned off by the whole process. (That being said, please go out and vote, despite the pettiness).

In the end, vandalizing campaign signs is the epitome of childishness of politics.

I didn’t name any specific campaigns in this column for a reason. That’s because I’m not accusing any specific campaign of ordering any signs to be torn down or removed. This can be done without the candidate’s knowledge by an overzealous supporter. But the fact of the matter of the matter is that someone did it. Some supporter who doesn’t know how to be courteous or respectful.

I clearly saw it. The sign was clearly vandalized. And now I clearly see how petty and immature people can be.

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