Campaign theft is sign of the times

I woke up one recent morning to Romney-Ryan signs propped on my neighbors’ lawns.

No surprise there. Many are Republicans, and although I’m not a fan of Romney and my vote is for the sitting president, I was thrilled by the voter spirit.

Shortly after, my next-door neighbor put up his signs: Obama-Biden.

I wanted to break out the champagne. Long live democracy.

Americans who were born with the unalienable right to disagree and dissent may take for granted their elections, but for so many like me who have lived in totalitarian regimes, elections are a cause for celebration.

But my joy was short-lived.

A politically thin-skinned klepto in our small gated community stole my neighbor’s signs — the only ones in support of President Obama.

Sadly, we’re hardly alone in South Florida when it comes to acts of political immaturity in this “contentious election” (a phrase so overused this presidential election it should be proclaimed the season’s official cliché).

Similar campaign thefts have been reported all over the country, some of them so outlandish it makes my neighborhood’s zealot look like a teenaged dime-store thief.

In Connecticut, the Oxford Democratic Town Committee reported that more than 50 election signs of Democratic presidential and congressional candidates and of political events sponsored by Democrats had been stolen.

“How low can you go? Just a sign of desperation,” committee chairwoman Ann Krane told the Oxford Patch.

Pretty low, apparently — some people are stealing voter registration cards.

In Rockingham County, Va., a 31-year-old man has been charged with 13 felony and misdemeanor counts of voter fraud for dumping eight voter registration forms. He worked for a private company contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia to register voters. The Republican Party has issued a statement saying the man acted alone and in violation of instructions.

In Georgia, both Republican and Democratic signs have been reported stolen.

“Every theft of a Democratic campaign sign will be reported officially to the authorities, and I, personally, want to make it profitable for others to turn the criminals in,” the county’s Democratic Party chairwoman, Patsy Harris, wrote to the Morgan County Citizen.

But here’s why the theft of my neighbor’s signs particularly galls me:

I came to this country 43 years ago and became a citizen 11 years later. I’ve voted across party lines so many times I don’t even remember exactly why or for whom.

I’m an issue voter, not a rabid party voter. If my parents had wanted me to live in a one-party system, they would have stayed on the other side of the Florida Straits.

They left all they loved behind so that I could be a free woman and enjoy the respect for others that only democracy affords.

That someone could not even let a lone Obama sign stand — that they were willing to trespass into private property, face criminal charges, jail time and a fine — is disgusting.

My neighbor quickly replaced his Obama-Biden signs, secured them and lit them so that they now stand out at night, brighter.

Some of the Republicans, who hadn’t thought to light theirs, followed suit.

Democracy restored — for now — in our little corner of the USA.