Looking For Signs
What’s wrong with the media? For weeks now they have taken us on a roller coaster ride worthy of a “Top Ten Roller Coasters in America” special on the Travel Channel. They have hyped us up, depressed us and generally kept to themselves what is really going on. One day, or even from show to show, they tell us that Barack Obama is running away with the election, then turn around and tell us it is too close to call. In short, they have been building their ratings rather than informing us.
All of us on both sides are looking for signs of where the campaign is and where it may be going. The media is not giving us that. Instead they are merely muddying the water. But the other day I was suddenly aware of something that I was seeing with my own eyes and not paying attention to.
As I have said many times before, I live in one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states in the nation — Montgomery County, Texas. This county is so Republican that Democrats in the past have not even run for election to most county-level offices, something that I am happy to report isn’t the case this year. Usually the real election for most Montgomery County voters is the Republican Party Primary. The general election is merely a formality where they don’t even necessarily have to show up to vote at all. So when Mrs. Jack and I showed up for our local precinct caucus the night of the Democratic Primary, we were shocked to see over a hundred people standing outside the precinct waiting to get in. It made us feel not so strange after all.
We were pleased to see so many people who voted Democratic and weren’t even disturbed that at least ten of them appeared to be “Ditto Heads” who had shown up on the orders of their leader, Rush Limbaugh, to create chaos and vote for Hillary Clinton. They were a hostile bunch who complained that they had given up the right to vote in the Republican Primary Runoff because you’re not allowed to vote in one party’s primary and then cross over to the other’s general election. Yeah, Rush kind of let them down there! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Mrs. Jack and I were honored to be selected to be Obama delegates to the County Convention a few weeks later and were greeted by the real chaos that had been created by a County Party that was overwhelmed by the huge turnout for their primaries and county convention. It was 18 times larger than any before it. It was a historic turnout of Democratic voters for Montgomery County. It was whispered that the local Republican Party in Montgomery County as well as the State Republican Party of Texas were thrown into a panic by the huge turnout for the Democratic Primaries across their reliably red state. We started hearing concerns voiced by Republican County Clerks in places like Harris County (Houston) that there might be some voter fraud perpetrated by the Democrats, something I have never heard since I moved here in 1972. Of course, there was that little matter of the all-Republican government in Harris County that was hit with several scandals, including one causing the District Attorney to resign and the County Sheriff to be under investigation by the Bush Administration’s own Attorney General.
The next thing I noticed was the fact that the word “Republican” rarely if ever appears in any campaign ads or on bumper stickers or campaign signs. It’s as if the once proud Republicans are suddenly ashamed of their party affiliation. It seems like only yesterday that they were all over the television calling themselves “Bush Republicans.” What a difference a few years make.
But here’s the thing I just noticed the other day. During election season down here, political signs bloom on yards like Texas’ beautiful wildflowers in the springtime. They are literally everywhere. Here in East Montgomery County where Mrs. Jack and I live, they are usually everywhere, and they are exclusively for Republican politicians. Everybody seems to want to show their support for their candidate. In driving around on personal business the other day, I noticed that this year things were different. We have one neighbor up the road from us who discreetly put an Obama 08 sign on the gate to his property a few months ago. Well, that thing has multiplied until there are now four more Obama 08 signs prominently displayed out by the roadway.
Mrs. Jack and I have remarked about his signage several times as we have driven by. We don’t know the guy, but I’ve seen him pull his pickup into the driveway a few times. He’s an average white guy who lives in our area – nothing distinguishes him from anyone else. But what I haven’t seen this election season up here in “solid Republican country” is one single McCain sign – NOT ONE! Now, that is as strange as it gets. What’s more, other than a hotly contested local Constable’s race, I haven’t seen one other candidate’s sign of any kind in any yard. That’s unprecedented.
Now, I have had the pleasure of seeing two other identical signs up on the highway that runs beside my neighborhood. They are inartful in their wording, but encouraging nonetheless. They read: “Vote Republican. Coming Soon $5.00 gasoline.” Someone – one would guess a Republican – has blacked out the “5” on the signs, but I saw one of them before this was done. I had to laugh. A swipe at the Republicans and oil companies down here in oil country! Maybe more people are listening than I thought.
Does any of this mean that Democrats are about to do the unimaginable and carry Texas for Barack Obama and call Senator John Cornyn – another seemingly ashamed and repentant Republican who is now running as an outsider – back home? Probably not. I tell my newly found Democrat friends that we must learn to crawl before we walk, but I am very encouraged for our future prospects. And this lack of pride of even Texas Republicans and lack of support as shown by yard signs – perhaps a small thing – gives me hope that Barack Obama is making a big dent in a Republican Party that has run roughshod over our nation and my state for far too long.