by Marla J. Gold

In our neighborhood, some presidential campaign signs were slow to disappear from street view. First there were the weeks following the election. Shocked signs standing in November disbelief. Signs waiting for the Electoral College to say it wasn’t so. Then there was the time leading up to the inauguration. Signs grasping hold onto antiquated electoral procedures.

Gradually some neighbors were able to remove their signs, able to talk about the American way of democratic elections and accepting the vote of the people. I was not among them. I chose instead to slowly move our sign from its curb location to an area adjacent to our front door. I find comfort in its memory as you might with an urn of someone’s ashes you deeply love. I am still grief-stricken. Gone, but impossible to be forgotten.

Then came a new, collective wave of print information. Our neighborhood once again appears dotted with declarative language. Lawn signs proclaiming “hate has no home here” in multiple languages began to appear where once stood the names of presidential candidates. Walking by, I wonder, where am I, this place where my neighbors are compelled to tell me hate does not live in their homes? Does the absence of this proclamation equate with hate taking up residence?

These signs are notably red on one side and blue on the other, providing a subtle message of hope that hatred is not defined by political affiliation. And these are not the only messages staked in the ground.  There is the “No Matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” sign. This one too, written in several languages to underscore the message. Paper versions of this sign are taped to shop windows and store counters, as if your origin could ever be a determinant of how happy we might be to meet you, talk with you, live next door to you or have you patronize our stores.

Beyond the hate-free welcome signs, there are those declaring multiple beliefs. “In this house,” reads one, “we believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, no Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love and Kindness is Everything.” That’s a lot of ground to cover on a lawn sign, but there it is, on the corner, staring at me in defiance.

As I read, I realize I am guilty of assumption. In the days before signage, I assumed hate was not welcome and kindness did matter in our neighborhood. I did not require position signs to know where members of my community stood regardless of their political affiliation; regardless of the buttons they pushed.

But now post-election, there exists a palpable need to take a stand. Why? We have a president of the United States who repeatedly lies and divides us. A Divider-in-Chief who blames the “other,” fanning the flames of smoldering hatred which now burn unchecked across our land. Some of the Divider’s key, unqualified cabinet appointees appear not to believe in science, or the importance of public education, or a clean, safe environment.

His executive orders often reflect a total disregard for human dignity and freedom. A flagrant disregard for the First Amendment. The Divider casts his Tweets carelessly into cyberspace with upsetting regularity, spewing disdain across the land, giving voice to countless hate crimes. The president of the United States has given voice to hate, and thus when he paradoxically speaks out against it, I find more irony than respite. These are the facts. Some days my head feels like it will explode.

There is seemingly no respite from this horror show, except, perhaps in the solidarity of others – in the solidarity of my community working together for social change. Resisting together. Indivisible, together. Doing what we can to change the course of this madness. Of course resistance is much more than planting slogans. But surely it helps. These days, the signs are holding me up. The Divider-in-Chief spews hatred and lies. My neighbors choose to take a collective stand. “Not here! Hatred has no home here! All are welcome here!” These are the signs of our times and they give me hope and strength.

Dr. Marla Gold is a resident of Chestnut Hill

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  • toto

    A survey of Pennsylvania voters in 2008 showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
    Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting, crude, and divisive and red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    In 2017, the bill has passed the New Mexico Senate.
    The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    The bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country


  • Robert Fox

    The irony is that these signs mark homes that are full of hate. A deep, intense, resolute, sanctimonious, and self-righteous hatred for our president and his supporters. These signs only serve to further divide us. They are disgraceful.

  • Joan Saverino

    Thank you Marla for writing this. I feel much the same way. In this deeply disturbing time in our history, I am grateful to live in my diverse neighborhood of Mt. Airy where a film was made because it was an almost singular national example of integration during the 1960s.

  • Darryl Hart

    Maria, did you ever think that President Obama did not unite the union?

  • Po’boy

    At best, the signs are masturbatory. At worst, they broadcast that the homeowners not only have plenty of cash to waste on egotism, but they also elucidate their hypocritical disregard for the natural environment (what are the signs made of and where are they going to end up?), and all for the purpose of displaying their piousness to their neighbors and community, the same neighbors and community that once erupted into a furor over Richard Snowden’s faux signage that called for check-cashing stores and nail salons to fill empty stores along the Avenue, because those kind of places would attract, the community feared, people from a lower class, though the community, of course, made sure not to say that explicitly. Now these same homeowners and community members have the gall to put up signs on their front lawns and act proudly as the guardians of the same people who, years before, they would have vomited upon if they were standing beside them in their cute and exclusive luxury boutiques or if they had to wait behind them in line while they ordered their diarrhea-inducing lattes. Do mirrors not exist in this town?