I used to have a personal policy that, generally speaking, if someone came up to me and asked me to sign a petition to get a candidate on the ballot, regardless of that candidate’s political affiliation, I would sign it. I have run for little dinky offices before where being a candidate required you to get people to sign a nominating petition and I know what a major pain it is to have to get people on board, and when the friendly smiling college kid comes up to me and politely asks if I will sign their petition it can be difficult to say no because frankly I’m a nice person. I don’t like telling people I will not help them. So for a long time I would sign any petition that was presented to me even if I was opposed to the candidate, the theory being that I’m okay with putting someone on the ballot, we’ll defeat them on the merits later but they ought to be heard, and in all honesty my refusal will not prevent a candidate from running, it’ll just make this nice young person’s life more difficult. Truth be told, I’ve probably signed far more Democrat petitions than Republican.
After this last election, I have changed this policy. I’m done playing fair and nice with these people for one thing. For another, in at least one of the states where Jill Stein ran her ridiculous recounts, she was entitled to do so under state law solely because she appeared on the ballot. It was entirely irrelevant that she received barely one percent of the votes in that state, she got to come in afterwards and futz with the results just because she was there, not because she had any remote chance of winning even if she changed the outcome. So no, no more signing for a polite smile. You just bought yourself a filibuster, kid, so get ready to hear why I’m not willing to sign off.
What brings this to mind is the last petition I was asked to sign. Our local school district put up a property tax issue to get more money last election and gave dire predictions that some schools would have to close if they didn’t get it, even though the school district is doing ridiculous things like giving out laptop computers to sixth graders. Amazingly enough, the blackmail didn’t work and the locals rejected the referendum. In response, predictably enough, the school district has called the locals’ bluff and initiated plans to shut down several of the local schools. I’m not blinking but I won’t be surprised if they bend enough people to get their way, they always do somehow. So this past weekend the usual suspect petition-clutcher comes by and knocks on the door, and asks if I will sign a petition to remove the school board members who voted to close down the local school. Or more accurately, if I and “any other adults” he said as he tried to peer through the door and look into my house like he had any business in there. And I politely but firmly told him, “no.” I’m not sure if my eyes said “and get off my property” but I was sure biting it back.
This was just a local school thing but it’s what they do on all levels. It’s what they’re doing with Barrycare now to some degree but that’s another matter. This signature-gatherer felt entitled to not just pressure me to sign on to his stupid petition but also to go over my head if he could find any other adults with me, and to do a little snooping into my house while he was at it. Because to people like this it all belongs to the community and the state anyway, and if you’re not signing then you’re not going along and that makes you bad.
I’m not signing anymore. I’m not playing nice and I’m not pretending that they are not engaging in political blackmail, trying to hold vote after vote after vote until they get what they want, and then we’ll never ever vote on it again. Not anymore.