The photo by Will Hearst on the front page of the Daily Press on Sept. 28 said it all — a large wooden sign touting several political candidates on San Juan Avenue broken off at the legs. How it happened wasn’t completely clear, but the tire tracks leading up to and away from the sign made it reasonable to conclude that someone disagreeing with the philosophy of the candidates featured on the sign had taken it upon themselves to drive up to the sign and destroy it.
An accompanying story by Katharhynn Heidelberg in which three of the four candidates for the Montrose County Commission reported chronic problems during this campaign season with their yard signs being stolen only reinforced what has become painfully obvious: the disrespect citizens are showing each other over competing political philosophies has reached disgusting — perhaps even alarming — proportions.
One of the great things about this country has always been our willingness as Americans to tolerate a wide array of political views. But even as voters profess to grow increasingly alienated by the overtly partisan antics of their elected officials in Washington, D.C., they seem to be mirroring that childish behavior in their dealings with their neighbors who may not share their political beliefs. On a routine basis, the Daily Press receives letters to the editor or other reports from readers who have had the bumper sticker on their car defaced or had profanity screamed at them by a passing motorist simply for carrying a sign supporting the candidate of their choice.
And now, it seems, an increasing number of Montrose residents have taken it upon themselves to remove campaign signs from candidates they oppose — even when those signs are located on what is clearly private property where the owners are exercising the same First Amendment rights we all claim to hold so dear.
We ask you: Is this any way for adults to act? Those of you who have engaged in such behavior — and, judging by the information we’re receiving, that’s a lot of you out there — ought to be ashamed. If we truly value a political system that is based on displaying mutual respect and achieving outcomes that are positive for the greatest number of people, this is no way to go about making it a reality.
To behave otherwise clearly demonstrates a selfishness, immaturity and self-absorption that represents a greater threat to the future of this republic than the policies espoused by any political party or candidate. Grow up and accept the fact that people have a right to express an opinion different from yours. Didn’t your mother teach you that a long time ago?