People aren't putting signs out this year. I'm not just saying it, I'm seeing it. I've driven 1267 miles in 4 days, and seen maybe 7 or 8 presidential signs - total. I'm not just hoping to see them from the road - states like Wyoming and Nebraska have laws against political signage along interstate freeways. I'm driving through neighborhoods, going up and down the avenues specifically looking for signage. No, I am not reaching every inch of every town - I'm just one person, one car, so I've probably missed a few. But it's been surprising. I've never had a problem finding a sign if I drove around enough. This time is different.
There's definitely local signage: mayor, governor. That's great! People are paying attention to what's happening locally. Fantastic!
Trump and Hillary are off the lawns this year. Republican and democratic presidential candidates don't get an inch of grass. "Get off my lawn," says America.
The man at the coffee shop in Salt Lake City said that that nobody was going to vote for either Hillary or Trump in Utah. "It is all about Evan," he said.
A woman in the breakfast room at the hotel in Rock Springs (where I left my pillow) was clearly annoyed by the political discussion on the TV in the breakfast room. She can't wait for it to be over, she doesn't even want to vote. "They're both gross," she says. She'll probably vote for Trump. "He's rude, but... that's who everyone else is voting for."
That's who everyone else is voting for. Oh boy. Elementary school student council election- Carson Elementary, San Jose, California. I remember critiquing the posters and deciding my vote based on poster design (telling, I suppose). However, most kids vote for the guy their friend is voting for. Adults too. It's an entire industry. It's psychological tricks.
It's a game. It's rigged. It's your fault. It's lies, so many lies. It's Twilight Zone lies. Is this real? This is real. This is now.
But nobody is willing to stand up and put out the lawn sign this year. Perhaps out of fear - fear of vandalism, fear of criticism, or, perhaps, they're embarrassed. Sad. Confused. When a lawn sign used to mean being part of something that was impressive, part of a subset of America that held common core beliefs, this year is a melting pot of mushy muck.
Instead, the main political landscape so far in the 2016 election season is ... drum roll please.... the flag. The American flag. The old stand-by. And there's a sense of sadness to this year's flag. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to hold an element of longing, of sadness, like we've lost something.
I began photographing American flags on 9/11 - that was a moment of unprecedented nationalism in my generation- even in San Francisco. I was caught off-guard seeing all of these American flags when before there had been so few. So I photographed them. There was a similar atmosphere then as there is now - a sense of unifying sadness and frustration. Perhaps it was easier to digest back then, with a defining moment and a specific threat, an event, a good reason to be sad.
But now, it's just us - Americans - with no one defining moment to identify the cause of sadness and suffering. But we're here together, for better or worse. So the flag is up.
That's what I see so far.