Originally, politics had to do with the Proprietors, then the immigrants, then the King of England, then the establishment of the nation. Philadelphia first perfected the big-city political machine, which centers on bulk payments from utilities to the boss politician rather than small graft payments to individual office holders. More efficient that way.
Right Angle Club: 2013
Reflections about the 91st year of the Club's existence. Delivered for the annual President's dinner at The Philadelphia Club, January 17, 2014. George Ross Fisher, scribe.
Fisher on Running For Office
Last night, I was honored to receive the Republican nomination for a seat in the state Assembly, to represent the district where I have lived for over fifty years.
For two weeks before election day, I had two "Fisher for Assembly" yard signs outside the entrance to my office, flapping back and forth in the wind. That's in the center of our little town, and the signs were stuck in the ground of what I assume is public property. If not, it is my rented property. One morning, I came to work and found they were gone. Perhaps it was Hallowe'en kids on a prank, perhaps the trash collectors swept them up. But the nice fellow with a beard who sits on a park bench next to the place, said, "No, it was some woman. She said it was against the law to put up signs in the business district, and he didn't argue with her. Nobody I asked had heard of any such law, so I have to assume she was an overzealous supporter of my opponents. In elections, this sort of partisanship has been known to get much worse than taking down an opponent's signs.
Anyway, my older daughter had been appointed campaign manager,, and she was very brisk about yard signs. Yes, indeed. Yard signs are very effective. How many do you have? The answer was five, since at fifty dollars apiece, they seemed pretty pricey for what little good they did. No, no, they do a lot of good, so get fifty more immediately, and I'll help you place them. Well, that took a little pleading and arm-twisting, but the next day we had them. And, after church on Sunday (after Meeting on First Day, as Quakers would say), we went off on a wild sign-placing ride. She drove, while I attached the wire stands to them. We were looking for signs that had been put up by other Republicans.
There are several reasons for putting your signs with those of your friends, in clusters. In the first place, this is one of the functions of a political party. There have been many previous elections, and the people who will give permission have long since been identified. The permission is only good for members of his party, however, since if you are an opponent you are likely to be confronted by ladies who say it is against the law. And the good places to put signs have long since been identified, usually at places where passing cars must slow down for a stop light. But how can anybody read your sign as they whiz by? They can't, which is why repetition is the thing. The same sign, with the same distinctive design is finally read by someone who has seen it before, but could only see the color pattern the first time. Putting a funny jingle on five successive signs was a very good idea once used extensively by Burma Shave. But it's expensive, and although everyone recognized a Burma Shave jingle, I have to admit that I never met anyone who actually used Burma Shave.
In the final outcome, I got 19,000 votes. Since I can scarcely imagine shaking 19,000 hands, that's pretty gratifying. Unfortunately, in this election it would have been useful to have 750 more.