“Alright! That’s another vote for my candidate!”
I can only assume that it’s this kind of outdated thinking that drives political candidates and their supporters to clutter up sidewalks and intersections all over the island during election season. Like it or not, roadside sign waving is part of Hawaii’s election culture.
But when I see candidates and their supporters on the streets waving at me, frantically trying to draw my attention so I might acknowledge them with a shaka or a honk of my horn, the first thing I think of is how distracting they can be to drivers and pedestrians. Not only do sign wavers clutter up our sidewalks and force pedestrians to walk around them, but they often also stand perilously close to the road and could cause confusion to drivers looking out for traffic signs or pedestrians. The only good thing is the next time I get a ticket for running a red light at a busy intersection during rush hour, I know which candidate’s office to ask to pay my fine.
Isn’t a candidate’s time better spent doing their current job rather than trying to win their next job? Especially if they’re an incumbent, I’d much rather have them in their office earning my tax dollars than waving hi to me on the roads. In fact, a politician is more likely to get my vote if they don’t participate in sign waving.
The whole practice of sign waving screams of obsolescence. It might have been an effective back in the days of TVs with only three basic channels and before the creation of the Internet, but with all the social media tools available now, there really is no reason to stand out on the road waving to drivers. I understand that its intent is to achieve name recognition the voters so that they’ll remember the candidate on election day, but if people truly are voting based on which candidate gave them a friendly smile and shaka instead of their stances on the issues, I don’t think those people should be voting in the first place.
I actually have been a sign waver in the past, but only when strongly encouraged to do so by an employer with substantial financial interest in a certain candidate. I did so begrudgingly and hated every minute of it as I tried to fake a smile at drivers who mostly just wanted to get to home as soon as possible without having to send a half-hearted greeting my way. Now, when I see sign wavers, I keep my eyes on the road (as every driver should anyway) and ignore them, hoping to get past them as quickly as possible.
I understand that we have a need to hold on to old-time local customs. They keep us grounded and provide a nostalgic link to the past. Honolulu has become a major metropolis and those who don’t consider that to be progress are desperately trying to hold on to any down-home type traditions they can. But it’s time that this small-town folksy tradition is laid to rest.
The truth is, these candidates aren’t much different than their evening counterparts standing on street corners. Their wardrobes may be different, but whether they’re wearing aloha attire or mini-skirts and pumps, they’re all pimping themselves out and desperately seeking your attention. If I had my way, I’d get rid of them all.