Billboards speak to me.
Not audibly, of course, but they do speak to me. They speak to you too. When you're driving pell-mell down the freeway and that big black billboard with the huge In-N-Out Double-Double on it flashes into your peripheral vision, something happens. Your salivary glands start working overtime, your stomach suddenly wakes up and starts doing those little backflips that it does when you need to feed it, and you start looking for the familiar yellow arrow.
I was driving down the highway one day last week (nearly falling asleep; I'm not a good morning driver), and a billboard jumped out at me and woke me up. I don't recall the actual verbiage, but it had to do with a group of bond measures that voters here in our great state of California passed some time back. The measures (called "The Ones"-1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E) were collectively referred to as the "Rebuild California" plan. They allocated enormous amounts of money to traffic, transportation (I'm not sure what the difference is), housing, schools and flood prevention.
I voted against them all. Apparently I'm among the intelligent minority in our great state, as proven by this pointless billboard.
The board touted the efforts of Governor Schwarzenegger some other politician proponents of the measure. It said something like "In the future, this highway will be wider thanks to the efforts of Gov. Schwarzenegger and these other politicians." The unwritten subtext was: "We're telling you this because you won't see the actual widening of the road for years, and you certainly won't see any of the work started before November, which is when all these guys are up for re-election, so make sure you vote for them as a big thank you. And, Oh-by the way: we took a few bucks off the top of that big pool of cash that you voted for in order to pay for this billboard."
I've always been a results oriented guy. I've always been of the opinion that we should cast our votes based on results. Now though it seems that the politicians believe that we're willing to be duped into casting a vote based simply on a vague (and perhaps empty) promise. Is that really the state of the voting public?
So I'm angry. Angry at the politicians for using a seemingly important issue to their personal advantage. Angry at the voting public for eating it up. And angry at myself for sitting idly by and allowing it all to happen.
But then, what am I to do? One lowly speck in this huge pot of thriving humanity; can I make a difference? Perhaps. But then how?
Or am I seeing ghosts here? Is this not an issue? Would it bother you, dear readers, to see that billboard? To see that, to our elected officials, the most important thing is gaining the prestige and political goodwill associated with backing some beneficial initiative? To realize that when it's all said and done, the initiative is no more than a poor pawn used as leverage in this political game.
It's part of why I'm so fed up with politics. Politicians are so self-serving--understandable to a point, but often so overwhelming that it's not right. But then, I think I might be cynical.
So where are we now? Are you as incensed as I am about this? Does this billboard build up your great confidence in politics and politicians? Are have we moved off track as far as I fear we have?