Upfront: Reconstituted Fried Corn for President!
For one Upfront writer, it's like a combination of Christmas, Halloween, and the Super Bowl: the best three holidays of the year all rolled into one magical Tuesday each November. And to help him celebrate the holiday, he needs you to vote.
This week, if you are like me, you are starting to get very excited about the upcoming municipal elections. Okay, you are probably not like me, unless you also spent the last 12 years battling it out in the trenches of electoral politics. For me, Election Day has always been like a combination of Christmas, Halloween, and the Super Bowl: the best three holidays of the year all rolled into one magical Tuesday each November. I like to glue myself to a glowing rectangle of some sort and watch the results roll in, usually by myself. I'll watch from the time the polls close until, bit by bit, precinct by precinct, 100 percent of the votes are tallied. You may have seen me engaged in this sad ritual – I'm the guy at the bar who asks the owner to turn on public-access cable, so I can stare at a mostly-white screen with the tiny nonsensical numbers scrolling from bottom to top. God, that sounds pathetic. I need a new hobby.
Anyhow, campaign yard signs have suddenly sprouted up everywhere over the past few weeks, like mushrooms; this should make you wonder in what substrate they've been planted. Their ubiquitous presence indicates that my favorite day of the year rapidly approaches. One problem with yard signs is that their ubiquity is also their invisibility – but for those who do pay attention, they actually do work subconsciously to generate name recognition. Like any other marketing initiative, the primary objective of a political campaign is to change the behavior of the targeted population. Think about that for a second – everyone from Fritos to Ron Paul is trying to change your behavior. They want you to do something out of the ordinary, something specific, like eat reconstituted fried corn, or vote. They spend millions of dollars trying to clearly yet subconsciously implant their carefully crafted message into your brain, so when the time comes for you to vote, you vote for reconstituted fried corn; when the time comes for you to eat, you eat Ron Pauli-O's. Or something like that.
Those yard signs, they play their own little part – consider them the walk-ons of this absurd and surreal political theater. They hang out in the back, not really stealing anybody's thunder, until you happen to glance their way at a stoplight. Then they act all nonchalant, saying, "Ohai! Didn't see you there!" However, once you get to the voting booth and realize that you've been craving Reese's Peanut Butter Cups all day long, you realize that they've accomplished their goal.
Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, I can't celebrate my pathetic little holiday without you, the voter. Yard signs do their part – but as it has often been said, yards signs don't vote. Only people vote. Sure, sometimes dead people vote, but they are (or were) people nonetheless. So I really need you, and all of your living friends and family, to get off your lazy asses on Tuesday, Nov. 8, head down to your polling place, and make your voice heard, so I can sit squinty-eyed and inebriated late into the night, watching how effective the yard signs were. If you don't know where your polling place is, the Pennsylvania Department of State will tell you. If you don't know who is running for what, the Erie County of Voter Registration will tell you. If you don't know why you should vote, shame on you. Put down your Ron Pauli-O's and pay attention will you? There are thousands of yard signs, and one Upfront writer, who would really appreciate it.