A Sign of the Times
We put our Biden sign out on the tree lawn way back in late May. We were the first ones on our street to do so, and we live in a strongly Democratic neighborhood. The sign was only up for a few days, when some jerk stopped his car in front of our house and screamed obscenities about the sign at my wife while she was watering the flowers.
She was shaken of course, but got a pretty good look at the guy and his car but couldn’t get a plate number. We assumed it was just a typical Trump zombie playing the bully card and adjusted our doorbell camera to capture the front yard better in case he came back.
A few days later we came back from doing errands and discovered that our Biden side had been vandalized and defaced with the very same obscenities the angry jerk had yelled at my wife. The doorbell camera had captured a woman wearing a mask writing on the sign with a marker, and later in the day the tape also showed the same obscenity-screaming jerk in the car with the marker woman stopping by to admire her handiwork. Still no plate number captured, though.
We documented all this and let some of the people in the neighborhood know what was going on and to be on the lookout. We called the Biden campaign and they suggested we report it to the police. Defacing or removing a political sign is a crime; a misdemeanor of different classes in different states. We let the police know, and they said they would keep an eye out for the guy.
My wife restored our Biden sign to its original glory (she’s an artist!) and we put it back out on the tree lawn. The very next morning she spied the jerk from our kitchen window out on our tree lawn defacing our sign again. I reacted angrily and ran out to confront the jerk, yelling some things myself I’d rather not repeat. He casually sauntered off down the street, taking the time to deface yet another Biden sign at a neighbor’s as he went. Unfortunately when I lost my cool, I didn’t grab my phone, so I had no mug shot of the criminal.
But I got a good look for a description and the police came out to investigate. They were great and took a lot of information, but essentially without a plate number there wasn’t much they could do except alert other patrols that this kind of crap was going on in the area. My wife restored the sign yet again and this time with a warning citing the appropriate criminal statute.
All was well for several weeks, and as we live in a beautifully strong Democratic enclave, the Biden signs on our street started to proliferate. We live in a row of nine townhouses and several of our neighbors joined us in expressing their support for Mr. Biden with a yard sign.
But then, we got an email sent to all the neighbors informing us that our Homeowner’s Association (HOA) bylaws prohibited signs on the tree lawn or hung on the house, and called out political signs in particular suggesting to us that our Biden signs should be removed.
Of course the email came from a Trump supporter in our midst. As it happens, the HOA bylaws do prohibit such signs. That said, we and our other neighbors didn’t actually know that, and the suddenly relevant sign standard had never been applied in the seven years that we lived here. In fact, yard signs of all types had been quite common, including political campaign signs set out by the now complaining Trump supporter. So the sign standard was now being applied in a selective and discriminatory way against the Biden signs.
The emails amongst the homeowners started flying back and forth, citing all manner of legal, constitutional and political positions. We chose to stay out of that, just hoping to focus on more important things and to see what would happen when the frenzied email dust up cleared away.
At the end of the day, all but one of our neighbors took down their Biden signs, as did we, hoping to be good neighbors and not further strain relations based on political proclivities. Several of us were privately rather annoyed with the picayune encounter, however. One neighbor also drew the line on their sign providing guidance on registering to vote and bravely left that one up. As a sidelight, the one neighbor who left their Biden sign up had it stolen a few weeks later. Go figure.
Yes, we thought it important to be good neighbors, but it is critical that we also be good citizens, even if it gets us in some “good trouble.” We immediately placed a huge order with the Biden-Harris campaign for t-shirts, baseball caps, buttons, bumper stickers and yes, an updated sign that included the name of our excellent candidate for Vice President. Our plan is to proudly and publicly display our support in all possible ways, especially in the neighborhood, when all the goods arrive, but not with a tree lawn sign or anything hanging on the house, which is verboten according to the trivially nit-picking HOA.
And we both are ramping up our activism heading down to Election Day. My wife, with as much intensity and resolve as any human I know, has been imploring people in all possible ways to register and vote for many months. We get a lot of pedestrian, bike and vehicular traffic down our street, and she has been creating sidewalk chalk art, sending the “Please Vote” message with a not so subtle embedded code: 8645110320. She also has been assertively telling people to register and vote when she is outside gardening. She had the “Please Vote” sign made many months ago and it had been on the tree lawn proudly until the HOA decided to play childish manipulative games with us.
So now she’s out there every morning on the tree lawn herself with her sign as you see in the picture above getting a lot of honks, waves and thumbs up from the morning rush hour drivers. She’s gotten a mostly positive reaction so far, and just wait for the load of Biden-Harris paraphernalia to arrive. Can’t wait for that picture!
It’s inspirational, and just maybe it will inspire more people to do something more. It’s the type of thing we all need to do a lot more of right now. Because authoritarians have taken control of our government and they will not be dislodged easily.
More and more we hear stories in the news and from people we know that have come here from fascist ruled countries around the world who are warning us that the worst is now happening here. They’ve experienced the terrors of fascism, and know the signs of its evolution. And they are scared to death about what is happening here.
The bullying and intimidation will continue and only get worse. Biden-Harris yard sign vandalism and theft is now routine around our neighborhood and in our state. It’s a tactic they use just like the jerk yelling at my wife and defacing our sign and like the HOA using arcane and newly applied rules to try to silence us.
But we cannot be silenced and neither can you.
The Republican scorched earth political campaign of exaggeration, distortion, fantasy, lies and threats of violence will continue, and as such our very liberty is now at stake. And Republicans will use all manner of dirty tricks and illegal tactics to suppress the vote. It is quite possible that Biden-Harris could win the popular vote by a wide margin and sadly still lose in the foolishly retained and easily manipulated Electoral College.
That’s why we all need to do more; a lot more. We must speak out more, contribute more and volunteer more. We must write more letters, talk to more people and do more to increase the turnout in November. We must vote early and in droves.
Because the only sure bet we have is an unequivocal landslide for Biden-Harris: a clear, convincing and overwhelming repudiation of this ugly fascist regime of chaos, corruption, cruelty and criminality.
Failing that, our democracy may well be lost.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.