Campaign yard signs are like old Christmas trees

Campaign yard signs are like old Christmas trees By Bob Karolevitz Another election is behind us, and the people have spoken � at least some of them.

The happy tears of victory have been shed, and so have the bitter tears of defeat. Now, for the next several years we have officials we'll either have to stomach or be delighted with because we think they reflect our views.

Not the pundits, the pollsters nor anybody else knows for sure why each candidate got our vote. Was it the clever newspaper ad, the television commercial, the yard signs or the door-to-door visits?

Was it a moral issue, a tax stance or the threat of pigs in the neighborhood? Did the fish-grip when he or she shook our hand cause us to vote for the other person? Or maybe it was because we just didn't like the gal or guy.

Whatever the reason, democracy has been served, and until we get another chance to throw the rascals out, we are stuck with the results.

Every couple of years or so, political consultants and so-called public relations experts come out from under rocks to help candidates bamboozle us. I've got to admit that I was one of the latter in my West Coast days, and I've been doing penance ever since.

Now we've got spin doctors, too. They're the people who can twist and turn a phrase or a circumstance so that their guy comes out smelling like a petunia.

Sometimes a campaign strategy can backfire or just lie there like a wet noodle. I remember years ago when Gov. Art Langlie of the state of Washington was trying to unseat the popular U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson, and I was hired by the ad agency as one of the temporary word-merchants for the governor.

I wrote a positive piece titled something like "Ten Reasons Why I Should Be Senator." I don't think Langlie's campaign advisers exactly laughed at my work, but it was shelved faster'n you could shake down a contributor.

"Make Him Show His Income Tax" became our battle cry. Magnuson never did, and he won by a landslide.

I didn't make any points with the committee when I said we were causing G.O.P. to stand for Gloom, Oppression and Pestilence.

I have a quasi-phony master's degree from the University of Oregon based largely on a study of polling techniques. Maybe that's why I'm suspicious of political polls to this day.

Again I can recall working on an issue campaign in what was then referred to as "the Soviet State of Washington." Our well-heeled committee hired what everybody said was a highly respected research group from Princeton University to tell us what our chances were.

I don't know what their sample was or how they phrased the questions, but they obviously interviewed the wrong people. Eventually they made a very professional presentation to our strategists, with flip-charts full of facts and figures. Victory was in our grasp, they said, as they took their money and left.

Our cause went down to a whopping defeat!

No, I'm not disillusioned with our system. As Winston Churchill supposedly said: "Democracy is absolutely the worst form of government � except for all the rest."

So once again I studied the issues, the candidates and voted dutifully. I'm programmed to live with the outcome (I won a few and lost a few), but I want you to know that the yard signs � which today are like old thrown out Christmas trees � didn't do a thing for me.

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