Who cares how large political signs are?

Democratic and Republican leaders in West Hartford are talking about a pact to get all of their candidates to “refrain from using oversize, billboard-style campaign signs,” according to a story in today’s Courant.

“I hope you will agree that this is one more way that we can put partisanship aside and do something that the people of our town will appreciate,” Democratic Chairwoman Maureen Magnan said in a letter asking Republican Chairman Carl Donatelli to agree to the ban, the story said.

Donatelli called it “a worthy objective,” the paper reported, but added, “I don’t know that I can make a promise on behalf of all the candidates that no signs will go up, regardless of the size. We can make the suggestion, but we really can’t enforce it.”

Two years ago, a few candidates erected some 4-by-8-foot signs, which are hardly billboards or something. They were criticized for it by “residents,” the paper said.

Last time I checked, this is still a democracy, and elections are a whole lot more important than all the signs we see every day for the Mohegan Sun, the lottery, restaurants and that big porn store on the Berlin Turnpike.

Candidates can put up any sign they like. It’ll either pay off at the polls … or not. But residents who are griping about sign size really need to take another look at their lives. It’s not a big deal.

And Magnan and the Democratic candidates who seem to have put the issue on the table should realize that handshake deals with Republicans as a way to undermine the rights given candidates by the First Amendment may be illegal. We have our rights as Americans and among them is the right to run for office and put our names on a big ol’ sign.

Personally, I don’t like political signs. They’re ugly. But I don’t like restrictions on free speech even more.

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11 Comments

Filed under Carl Donatelli, Democratic Party, Maureen Magnan, Politics, Republican Party, signs

11 responses to “Who cares how large political signs are?

  1. Gary Reger

    Better than a bi-partisan ban on sign size would I think be a joint statement by the two parties condemning vandalism and theft of political signs. Last election there was a spate of such acts; signs were slashed or stolen twice from our lawn. Free speech!

  2. Elmwoodian

    Put in the context relative to porn store billboards, it isn’t a grand mal issue, but as a rule, I think the big signs are a gaudy, over the top visual nuisance. This isn’t exactly a Chicago alderman race, it’s the WH TC and BOE. They are unnecessary.

    As for free speech, if all the candidates willingly volunteer to only use the poster-sized signs, I don’t see where the constitutional issue is. Now if the Council enacted an ordinance, that’s an illegal government intrusion on protected political speech and a big time no-no (which is why the Council has never taken action on this issue in the past, despite frequent citizen protests re: the large signs), but this is a group of individuals agreeing to a set of reasonable boundaries for the campaign.

    I’m all for it. I prefer to see the trees blossom into great large fall panoramas, not the signs.

  3. turtle

    I think it’s endearing that the party leaders want to make politicking more tasteful.

  4. Osemasterofdoom

    I think we should all put big signs on our lawn that read “NO MORE LAWN SIGNS” We can all use a little surrealism in our day.

  5. JTS

    Right on elmwoodian. The big signs are totally unnecessary, D or R, put one up and say adios to my vote.

  6. WH Voter

    I agree with anyone who finds these large political signs tasteless and unnecessary. But I have to admit to being an absolutist when it comes to interfering with political speech. The 1st Amendment right of those who wish to express themselves this way must be respected, no matter how obnoxious this form of speech might be.

    And since when is a true Democrat opposed to unfettered political speech? I thought only Republicans these days were eager to trample on the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens?

    Plus, the effort to suppress these signs robs me of another factor in trying to decide who to support. For example, don’t you have to wonder if putting up a large sign is an act of over-compensation by the candidate for something else that is too small?

  7. EJ

    Why wouldn’t the Democrats want a limit on signs?
    They have the majority and the name recognition in a heavy democrat town, while the republicans are running new faces. I’m surprised that they didn’t suggest that all signs be eliminated, they can only benefit from less advertising.

  8. Elmwoodian

    If two or more individuals or parties mutually agree not to do or say something that is generally protected under the 1st Amendment right to speak freely (and its corollary, protected political speech), then there is no illegal restriction or fettering. In other words, if all candidates agree to no big signs, where’s the 1A issue?

  9. I agree with Gary. Theft of political signs is the lowest of the low. And this happens on both sides. If you catch someone, call the police. Let the candidate explain to the media why s/he and his/her campaign workers find it necessary to participate in unlawful activity.

    This goes for the “Out of Iraq” signs on the lawns of liberals. Let them express themselves as they see fit.

    The size of signs don’t bother me unless they block an intersection (I’ve seen this on corner lots). Besides they aren’t up for that long.

  10. Fran

    Actually, what I mind is that the signs do stay up for a long time. Candidates should be required to remove them once the election is done.

  11. Joe Visconti

    Size doesn’t matter?

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