Opinion

Editor's Column

"In politics, it's all in the nameEvery election we have a furor over campaign signs. That wasn't so bad years ago when elections were held every two years and every four years. But now we've got three or four elections a a year, and in rural areas snatching campaign signs is the only thing kids have to do once all the mailboxes are bashed.Judging by candidates' reactions, losing a campaign sign is as bad as losing a child. Even worse if the child isn't old enough to vote. The theory is that if voters see your name often enough, they might vote for you at the polls. Hmmm.... Jones.....that name rings a bell, he'd be an excellent legislator, is how they think voters must reason in the privacy of the voting booth.Signs appear to be more important on the local level where nobody can afford TV or radio ads to spread their name electronically. The hope is that the name alone will garner votes, so the name has to sound good and solid to voters, or why even run? That may explain our plethora of candidates named Anderson, Sehlin, Smith, Haugen, McCoy and Barlean. Those names sound solid and familiar, which allows them to run for office. Unfortunately, we lack candidates with really interesting names such as these gleaned from the Whidbey Telephone book: Antetomaso, Beardemphl, Cammermeyer (she lost, proving the point), Cimilluca and Deraitus. These are unusual, lyrical names, and the people who possess them should be proud, but they shouldn't run for office. Voters don't like unusual names because it takes so long to read the campaign sign that they drive off the road. Nobody's going to vote for Beardemphl if they associate the name with $2,000 worth of body work.A bad political name can take millions of dollars in campaign spending to overcome. Months ago, Bush was associated with Bush league, a bird in the Bush, burning Bush, and we did it in the Bush. Now, however, nobody thinks of that. Thanks to all that spending, we now associate the Bush name with a squinty-eyed guy from Texas. Gore is another bad name that took millions of dollars to overcome. Originally we thought of blood and Gore, a bullfighter with a horn through his belly because he was Gore-d, and a clothing manufacture named Gore who didn't hit it big until he met up with Tex. But now, thanks to a zillion dollars in TV ads, when we hear the name Gore we think it rhymes with Bore.On the local level, we are fortunate that most of the campaigning is done by yard signs rather than through massive media spending. There isn't enough room on the sign to make all those promises that won't be kept. "

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