We just need to keep it together for less than a month, people.
Last week I got an email from hard-working reporter Emily Cutts asking me if I was interested in pursuing a story about some kids – likely from Stewartville – who posted on social media about stealing campaign signs from people's yards, burning them and doing something else I won't mention.
Yeah. I'll do it, I responded. Unfortunately, I discovered that stolen campaign signs is a rabbit hole of craziness right now.
Being an intrepid reporter, down the rabbit hole I went.
RED WING CONNECTIONS
Red Wing City Council Member John Becker, who loves social engagement, runs a Facebook page called Red Wing Convo. It used to be a discussion group for the ward he represents, but he's made it a Red Wing-wide thing. On the page was a video and some photos of a person stealing a campaign sign, and a post asking if anyone could identify the culprit.
I reached out to the woman who posted the video and photos, but heard back from Ceri Everett, who is helping spread Biden signs around the Red Wing area. She listed one example after another about people stealing campaign yard signs. One thing she mentioned is how people are feeling differently about their neighbors with this going on.
But this is nothing new. You only have to take a tasty trip to Hanisch Bakery – and the bakery's Facebook and Twitter presence – to see the vitriol.
Bill Hanisch, who owns and runs the bakery, has continued a tradition of running a "cookie poll" during presidential elections where people buy a cookie with their candidate's name on it. The cookie poll has picked the popular vote winner in every election since 1984, Hanisch claims. Right now, Trump has a huge ("Yuge!" as Trump himself would say) lead over Biden.
Pick one of the cookie poll threads on Facebook and read the comments. I dare you. One woman wrote about the history of banking policy. The political discourse isn't always so erudite. The comments include everything from Trump GIFs to people accusing Hanisch of voter fraud.
On a cookie poll.
SOME BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT
One thing everyone agrees on – Democrats, Republicans and, I'm assuming, those who are nondenominational – is this: We are less than 30 days from the 2020 election. Let's all try to get along.
Three weeks ago I basically made this same plea. At the time I said there were 47 days to the election. Let's all be nice to one another.
Apparently no one was listening. So I'll say it again.
We all want what's best for the country, for one another. Maybe instead of stealing signs ask someone why they back a certain candidate or why they take a certain policy position. Talk, calmly. And better still, listen. Maybe we'll all find that folks supporting that no-good so-and-so running for dog catcher really just want the dogs to be safe, and it's not about the poop on their pristine lawns.
Breathe deeply, people. We're almost there.
Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.