EDITOR: After seeing at least 10 — and counting — friends report that their lawn signs were stolen, I wanted to write this letter to make a few things clear.
First, the typical reaction is along the lines of: “It’s just bored kids” or “Both sides do it” or “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that stealing lawn signs is a crime and it’s not something we should just accept. It’s not the Madison way of how we treat each other.
Since most campaigns have made the smart and thoughtful choice to not go door-to-door and talk to voters, lawn signs are an important way to spread the word and show your support. They are a demonstration of free political speech, a bedrock of our country’s founding, and when signs are stolen from private property, the crimes are both theft and trespassing. And with so many people having cameras recording, we know it’s not just kids, even if it’s childish behavior on display.
Perhaps most importantly, this behavior creates more animosity, finger-pointing, and anxiety at a time when we are all on edge about politics and just daily life. And if sign stealers think this action helps their favorite candidate, think again. When this happens, it rallies support, it increases donations when another sign is bought, it motivates us to do more to support our candidate. And it makes you look foolish: If you worry that a simple lawn sign on your neighbor’s property is enough to sway support away from your candidate, then maybe you’re backing the wrong person.