A sunny Sunday pre-election. A walk down Damen with a cup of coffee in hand. And dozens of “Re-Elect Jesse White Secretary of State” yard signs popping up along a fence like partisan wildflowers.
A bit of background:
Jesse White is an Illinois politician known for three things: being in Illinois politics, sponsoring a gymnastics organization for at-risk youth and having done both things for-ev-er.
He has served in the state House from 1979 to 1993, as Cook County recorder of deeds from 1993 to 1999 and as Illinois secretary of state from 1999 to (although I’m writing this the night of the election, I can be pretty darn certain it will still be accurate in the morning) for-ev-er.
I think he does a pretty decent, if workmanlike, job as secretary of state. No major scandals and I’ve never had a truly terrible time at the DMV.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because of the sign that fell at my feet.
As mentioned, Sunday, coffee, partisan wildflowers. They were lined every 15 feet or so along the large fence protecting Wicker Park hipsters and the residents of the CHA-funded senior housing from each other.
One of the signs – regular 2 x 3 foot yard signs – had fallen off its little metal holder onto the ground.
“Re-Elect Jesse White Secretary of State” it said in white on blue above the URL www.jessewhite2014.com.
I looked down at it, the way you do, when I noticed something odd. Remember before they CGIed the hell out of “Star Wars” and you could still see little, slightly off-color superimposed boxes around the tie fighters as they zoomed through “space”?
There was a little box like that – blue on blue instead of the black on black the Force implies – around the end of the URL. Just the “2014.com.” I looked closer.
It was a sticker.
The “2014.com” at the end of www.jessewhite2014.com was a sticker. They had reused the yard signs from the 2010 election – which White swore swore swore would be his last – and just slapped a sticker over it because what the hell had changed but the year.
“2010.com” was a sticker too.
I ripped the paper slightly peeling the 2010 sticker back, but could see the reverse image of the “2006.com” left from when the signs were originally minted.
I looked down the street at the wildflower row of signs. Stickers on all of them, the same sign, message and candidate recycled year after year. You can see the sign here.
One friend I told laughed, another got mad. I’m somewhere in between.
I want institutional knowledge and for officials to have some idea what they’re doing. I don’t want endless cronyism and rubber-stamp democracy, the Hobson’s choice offered to voters of “Candidate A or Candidate A.”
We’ll have time to figure out in which camp Jesse White falls. After all, it’s not like he cut the sticker off at “14.com.”
Jesse White in 2126, anyone?