Patty Dineen

The view from here

A man with a sign

As we were taking a family member to the airport this weekend we saw a man standing on the curb at a busy intersection where a left turn lets you head west over the Ohio River.  He was holding a sign aloft–both arms raised high above his head.  He turned and we could see that it was an “Obama for President” sign.  As we sat in traffic at a red light we watched him.  He didn’t walk around, just turned slowly from time to time, with a quietly determined expression on his face.  It reminded me of Norma Rae, standing on a table and silently holding her “Union” sign aloft.  Her message was much larger than her one-word sign.  This man on the corner, also, sent a larger message than just who he thinks should be the next president.

I saw in this man a hopeful sign; a one-man celebration of the democratic process.  In the car we talked about how impressed we were that someone had decided to invest their time and their person in this way to promote their candidate.  The man wasn’t with a group, he was by himself.  He wasn’t sitting in a chair, he was standing on the corner. 

There were other campaign signs nearby, stuck in the ground and sharing space with a lot of real estate signs (but that’s another discussion…).  In fact, there are campaign signs at nearly every corner these days.  The man’s sign was identical to the Obama signs stuck in the ground.  What was different was the message it sent.  What we learn about a candidate’s supporters tells us a lot about the candidate.  This man was serving his candidate very well.

As we passed the man we waved, smiled and prepared to give a thumbs-up.  He didn’t see us.  His expression didn’t change and his gaze was fixed at some point further off.  Either he wasn’t looking for reaction and affirmation, or he’d indeed had some and had decided to ignore all reaction as he pursued the way in which he had decided to spend his Saturday afternoon.

We said wouldn’t it be neat if there was someone at the other end of the bridge, standing and holding aloft a sign for McCain for president.  There wasn’t.  But we still felt good–felt better– about this long slog of a presidential campaign in which it’s easy to forget that if you want to make democracy just a little bit better, you can.  You don’t need permission; you don’t need a group; you just need to go out and do it.

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Written by dineenp

October 27, 2008 at 3:17 pm

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