Maui Discussion

OPINION: Sign-Waving Doesn’t Get You Votes

July 18, 2012, 10:55 AM HST
* Updated August 6, 10:43 AM

By Nate Gaddis


Big smiles, big waves, in Kahului. Photo courtesy of Maui Democrats.

Years ago, a well-meaning and resourceful politician strolled up to the side of a busy street, raised a hand in the air, and unleashed what would become a cheerful but irritating craze unto the masses.

Like the mythical creation of the Loco Moco, we may never be able to confirm who started it.

Regardless of its founder, this friendly roadside distraction quickly spread. Politicians steadily upped the ante on each other, adding wives, children, friends, and obnoxiously large signage to the mix.

Attention candidates: If it takes more than three people to hold up your name, you’re probably overcompensating.


And while wagging an open palm toward the sky may demonstrate some serious shoulder stamina, it’s really not buying you our votes.


Instead, you’re holding our manners hostage. If we wave at every entourage, we feel like we’re tacitly endorsing every aloha shirt on a street corner. But by ignoring you, we may feel mildly jerk-ish, especially if you’ve managed to drag one of our coworkers into your one-armed calisthenics.

Those of us lucky enough to be traveling 45 miles per hour only have to put up with these displays for 1.5 seconds. But what about bicyclists? The poor bastards. They’ve got to pedal through a slow-motion sea of good cheer without swerving into oncoming traffic.


A cheerful sight along Kahului Beach Road, but how effective is sign-waving? Photo courtesy of Tulsi Gabbard.

Apart from being dangerous, this whole craze could also end up ruining millions of years of behavioral evolution.


Until recently, waving a hand in the air meant one of two things: “hello” or “goodbye.” The signals work well, and we’ve used them for centuries. If “vote for me” ends up superseding those two messages, our increasingly self-entitled society might just implode.

The best-known little secret of course, is that politicians hate doing this. Who wants to stand in the sun (or rain) for hours on end, rotator cuff grinding away, facial muscles contorted into a spasm-inducing grin?

They do it because they have to. If you’re the only candidate not hitting the sidewalk on a Saturday afternoon, you look indifferent by default. This is a smiley-faced stalemate, and none of these guys are going to lay down their arms unilaterally.

We’ve got to save them from themselves.

Petition your local councilmember. Write your state representative, even call the governor. Do whatever it takes to end this madness. And if none of that works?

Start making signs.

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