Waiting for the van to come

During this morning’s drive to work, I saw a hard-working candidate for Dekalb County Commissioner standing at the busy highway intersection of LaVista and 285, waving, smiling, and doing his darnedest to look like a friendly, amiable, hard-working candidate for Dekalb County Commissioner.

I waved, smiled, and continued on my way but I couldn’t help thinking there was a metaphor for the American suburban predicament here. There was a time not so long ago when a candidate (or anyone else with an idea they wanted to express) could just go to a busy square or plaza, stand on something and let people know how they feel. I mean, we literally call it standing on a soapbox, not because it’s a cute turn of phrase but because there was a time when someone could stand on a soapbox and be heard. Now, our candidates can either: a.) pay gobs of money for ad space; b.) try like heck to get people to a rally; or c.) stand on a corner, wave, and smile.

Chalk it up as one more way the American public sphere has been degraded, that our public discourse has been reduced to billboards and television ads.