Published Date Written by Lloyd Jones"Save America Vote Republican."
The signs are popping up across Mount Washington Valley, and they're creating quite a stir.
According to Republicans, the signs, which were unveiled on the Fourth of July, have been leaving the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee's Conway office faster than hotcakes. The local GOP is poised to order its third shipment of the signs and has had a difficult time matching supply with demand. Republicans claim the sign is an attention getter while delivering a powerful message.
Democrats view the signs as divisive, and they wonder what America needs to be saved from.
One thing's for sure. The signs, which were the brainchild of Henry Mock, chairman of the MWV Republican Committee, have people talking.
"We have a waiting list for signs," Mock, a former longtime state representative and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, Monday. "It was my idea. I came up the idea. We had already gotten our (candidates into the races) in May and June and I saw nothing happening so I decided it was time for the Republicans to do something."
It's not the first time that Mock has come up with a sign and slogan that has stirred the political pot. In 2008, you may seen more of Mock's creative side with the ads and the signs along the roadside all over the Granite State which read: "Vote Republican" with the number 17 1/2 in a circle with a line drawn through it. Those signs, put out by the Republican Party, represent what Republicans maintained was a 17 1/2 percent increase in the state budget during the two years (2007-08) under a Democratic governor and a Democrat-controlled state House and Senate.
"This downward spiral is caused by unrealistic estimates by the Democratic powers now in control in Concord in order to balance the budget," Mock wrote in a November 2007 letter to the editor in The Conway Daily Sun.
"It represented an increase to the budget," Mock said Monday. "People saw the signs and had to ask, what is that? People started talking, and I think we've gotten them talking again with these new signs. It is my opinion and the opinion of he Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee that America is going to pieces. We are on a cliff and are in danger of falling off. This sign, I hope, is to see if we can return America to the one we once knew.
"This president and this administration are carrying us directly into being a socialist nation," he continued. "The sign asks the simple question: Are you better off today than four years ago? Has your net value increased or decreased over that period? We need to get back to the old America we once knew and the only way I know how is to vote Republican. I'm not being bashful anymore about saving my country."
Mock has been pleased to see the signs in such demand.
"On Sunday afternoons the traffic heading out of Conway backs up beyond our office and people are jumping out their cars and are coming in looking to buy the signs," he said. "They're taking them back to Massachusetts and they're going all over the country. We have had a number of these signs stolen and I don't know if it's someone who doesn't agree with us or what, but a lot of them are begin taken. I know we've gotten reports of them being in Illinois, Ohio and continuing to make their way west."
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is aware of the signs, and his campaign has pointed out it did not create them.
"There's usually a disclaimer at the bottom of them; to my knowledge they're not our signs," Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said. "They're not signs by the Romney campaign, but we are facing a very serious election in November which will determine the future of our economy. This election offers a very clear contrast between the liberal values of President Obama and Governor Romney's pro-growth policies which are designed to help the private sector create new jobs. Our country is on a financial cliff. One path leads to fiscal responsibility in Washington and economic prosperity — that's the path of Governor Romney. The other path, the path of President Obama, leads us to the same economic calamity that is being seen in Greece today. This is the most important election of our lifetime and the stakes couldn't be any higher. The future of our nation depends on this election."
Former Conway Municipal Budget Committee member and Mount Washington Valley Republican Party member Linda Teagan has been amazed by the response to the signs.
"I have never seen such positive reaction to to any political signs as I've seen to the "Save America, Vote Republican" signs," she said. "People come into the Republican headquarters every day asking for them. I've had people taking them to Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts and other parts of New Hampshire. It seems to strike just the right note for this upcoming election. They went so fast that the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee ran out and had to order another shipment. I understand that more signs have arrived at headquarters.
"We have also had many people come in for replacement signs as theirs have been defaced or gone missing," she added. "That is something that is very rare in New Hampshire. So it reminds me of the observation that if you are taking flak, you must be over the target."
Fellow Republican Therese Ann Gallagher likes the message the sign brings.
"I believe the message behind the signs is for our government to stop 'overspending' on many unnecessary programs and special interest groups," she states. "The federal government has grown hugely in these last few years, and it now spends more than $3.5 trillion annually, leading the future of America into bankruptcy. It has also increased the scope of its involvement, because it now subsidizes programs that used to be part of state and local governments, businesses, charities and individuals. Just pick up the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, a 2,205-page official listing of all federal subsidy programs for state and local governments, individuals, businesses, and nonprofit groups. These subsidies include grants, loans, insurance, scholarships and other types of benefits. I believe there are many sincere causes and needed programs to assist and educate the less fortunate in our society, but I don't believe all those subsidies are actually needed.
"I personally know individuals who have received grants and are living off them without producing any benefits to our society as a whole," Gallagher added. "People and programs who receive benefits from our government need to demonstrate that they are at least trying to improve their situation and contribute to society in a positive way by volunteering or joining wholesome groups. I also believe there are many Democrats who are conservative and want to 'Save America' by stopping the ballooning debt, so the message is bipartisan in some ways. We know for sure that Republicans are not in favor of 'free, irresponsible spending,' and thus the sign was created and they get the credit."
Former state senator and Conway selectman and school board member Mark Hounsell is not a fan of the sign.
"Contrary to what party leaders may say, the GOP is not a political messiah and its candidates are not saints," he said.
Carroll County commissioner Dorothy Solomon, who has been one of the faces of the Carroll County Democratic Party for more than a decade, agrees with Hounsell.
"Seems to be a misprint," she said. "Should say 'Save America from Radical Republicans.'"
Fellow Democrat Ed Butler, who is seeking a return to the New Hampshire House of Representatives this fall, believes the signs could come back to haunt the Republicans.
"Save America — from what, is the question?" Butler said. "From the accomplishment of health care reform that was largely defined by Republicans over the past 50 years and that was finally accomplished by the Obama Administration? Or maybe the fact that the Lilly Ledbetter Act finally requires that women be paid the same as men? Maybe it means that we should Save America from those that supported the bailout of GM, saved tens of thousands of jobs and helped revitalize the U.S. Auto industry? No, I got it — it's to save America from those who would support the ability for women to have insurance coverage for contraceptives or to have the right to keep the government out of decisions about their reproductive health-care choices.
"I believe we need to Save America from those who believe it's a good idea for corporations to be treated like they are people with the right to spend as much money as they want to elect candidates who will do their bidding," Butler continued. "I believe we need to protect America from a Congress that will bring our political process to a halt in order to limit this president to one-term. But I think they're in for a big surprise come this November. Because I believe that the American people prefer a moderate government that puts the safety and security and well-being of the citizenry above political extremism and gamesmanship."
Longtime Republican Henry Villaume recalled other slogans over the years.
"'Hope & Change' (used by the Obama campaign in 2008)" turned into incompetency, inexperience, stimulus graft, golf, astronomical debt, uneconomical energy programs, a scrapped national radioactive waste storage location, leaked secrets, lost weapons — brand new drones and 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles, foreign policy stumbles all over, basketball, Affordable Care Act — greatest misnomer imaginable — lowest employed percentage in decades, currency devaluations, credit rating reduction, which was a first, general incompetency, class warfare divisions and non-existing legislative leadership that blocked getting any work done," he said. "Let's switch to 'Experience, Honesty and & Team Building.' This is an imperative to survive. 'Hope & Change' turned into the hard left turn to failure. We must have a 'Right Turn' to fiscal responsibility with honesty and economic freedom."
Democrat Beth Funicella, who is a candidate for executive council in District I, sees the signs as an attempt to try to make Carroll County a one party county as it once was.
"One thing that folks may not know is that these signs are exclusive to this area as an initiative of the Carroll County GOP," she said. "It appears to be a desperate attempt to bring Carroll County back to the days when it was the most Republican county in the country. We don't travel by horse and buggy anymore and we can't live in the past. These signs are very divisive and also insulting to most of our populace. This is sloganeering at its worse. It's a sad day in America with such extremism that doesn't seek to work on solutions.
"Save America indeed, but change that 'Vote' to 'For' — for a small group of those who are attempting to preserve their often ill-gotten gains with legislation that crushes the middle class," Funicella continued. "I guess when you are faced with having to defend this tea-party Republican state legislature that's been focused on an out-of-state social agenda and cutting programs to the bone — most of which were put in place by prior, reasonable Republican legislatures, by the way — instead of jobs, education, health-care, infrastructure and so many other issues that benefit everyone, you have to resort to this type of fanaticism."
Three-term state representative and candidate this fall for the House, Tom Buco, a Democrat, also questions the sign's message.
"Did they forget that Republicans put us in the hole we are in and then blocked every effort to get us out," he said. "They were willing to play their political games at the expense of the country. Is that how they are going to save us?"
Former Republican state representative Norman Tregenza, who is running for a return to Concord this fall in the newly created District VII Floteral, had several other slogans in mind.
"Because I view the Carroll Republican N.H. House members differently than I view the federal Republicans," he said, "I would have chosen 'Promises Made, Promises Kept, Support Carroll Republicans' or '2005-2006 — 20 New/Increased Taxes and Fees; 2007-2008 — 29 New/Increased Taxes and Fees; 2009-2010 — 38 New/Increased Taxes and Fees; and 2011-2012 — 11 Reductions or Eliminations of Taxes & Fees — Support Local Republicans.' Nevertheless, Henry Mock deserves credit for creating a slogan that brings passersby into the office. Usually, a new person who is entering the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee office will ask about the 'Save America' signs prior to asking for anything else. So Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee chairman Henry Mock's creativity has captured the curiosity of many a citizen."
Democrat and grandson of former U.S. President Grover Cleveland believes there isn't a real message to the signs.
"This is meaningless because it is meaningless," he said. "It is probably annoying to people who don't care for Republicans just as it would be annoying to Republicans if it said 'vote Democratic.' It has as much meaning as 'Save America Eat at Wendy's'. It's hyperactive, over the top, domestic partisan jingoism. In my always-humble opinion, if one wants to Save American, end all private campaign funding. All of it; no loopholes. I am aware that is unpopular with some of my friends in the media and yes, for 25 years, part of my salary came from campaign financing.
"In 2008, I thought I would be physically ill when it was revealed that running for president would cost $100 million," Cleveland added. "This cycle, 'they' say it might be a $1 billion. I cannot speak the words. The instant a member of Congress goes to work, he or she has to start fund-raising for the next election. Are we somewhat off the plot? I could go on. The history of campaign financing is pretty colorful — until the 'Citizens United' decision. And one more thing: Let Gary Johnson and Jill Stein on the ballots and in the debates."
Local historian and Daily Sun columnist Bill Marvel wonders if it might take a third party to save America.
"So many Americans are either rich and greedy or poor and struggling — as Democrats correctly claim — and so many are either lazy moochers or entitled whiners — as Republicans justifiably complain — that I'm not sure there is any way to 'save America' without a third party that sees through the duplicitous slogans of the other two."
Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee member Ray Shakir, who serves on the Conway Planning Board, supports the signs. In a letter to the editor in The Conway Daily Sun he recently addressed the slogan.
"'Save America Vote Republican' is an expression which has obviously touched a nerve in the Freeloader Nation; a nation co-opted by the 'mother' of all freeloaders: Barack Hussein Obama," he wrote. "This individual, devoid of any personal productivity or admirable achievement, built a lifetime of 'accomplishment' around deception, Marxist ideology, militant radicals, communist propaganda and oppressive government dominance. Our Constitution, liberty and freedom, the very foundations of our proud heritage and what it means to be an 'American' is relentlessly mocked and ridiculed. Save America, Vote Republican — or wallow in the same socialist muck enjoyed by Greece, North Korea or Cuba."
"We in the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee are extremely passionate, concerned and, yes, scared to death about the prospect of another four years of domination by this Marxist invader," Shakir said in a follow-up email. "And we almost unanimously believe that, if that should happen, it will be the end of our nation, the end of the Constitution, liberty, freedom, our culture and our way of life. In short, it will be the end of prosperity and the beginning of just another mediocre, bumbling, oppressive socialist state.
"A new batch of those signs are expected to arrive as early as tomorrow," he added. "We have a waiting list. They 'fly' out of our campaign office. People from out of state can't wait to get their hands on them. And don't be surprised if they start showing up in California because they are drawing national attention. Indeed, Save America Vote Republican, because if this Marxist infiltrator prevails — by whatever means — you will bear witness to unprecedented national suicide."
Readers on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page also weighed in heavily on the signs when asked what they think of them.
Michelle Yvonne DuFault writes: "It's disgraceful. Politics are no longer about who is going to do the best job for the people, it's about slinging as much mud at the opposition as possible. What makes it even worse is we, the public, just keep letting them get away with it. 'By the people, for the people' no longer has any meaning."
Bill Barbin writes: "Free speech is great but I think it is wrong for candidates and/or parties to put signs on unattended properties. It does not show support and really is just litter. A yard sign shows your neighbors that you support a particular candidate/party/position but when those candidates just go out and place their signs on any piece of land they can get away with, it really shows a lack of respect and may even indicate a lack of support from real property owners."
Kurt Erickson writes: "Vote for whom, Romney? The guy is an absolute disaster. He made a total fool of himself on his foreign tour, insulting people everywhere he went and revealing total ineptitude with foreign policy. He can't even conduct diplomacy with our allies! He has no backbone, is entirely incompetent, and is definitely not ready to be president our the United States."
Stacy Sand writes: "State office primaries are a month away, so those signs make sense now. As to the Save America signs, beyond the fact that I didn't know America needs saving, I would detest these signs whether they said Republican or Democrat because I believe they ignore the issues and add to the polarization of government. I want to spray paint over the 'Republican' part so it just says 'Vote'."
Erik Corbett writes: "If you're disgusted by the sight of all the political signs on the side of our roads remember whose name is on those signs and don't vote for them in November. Stacy Sand is right that the party primaries are coming up on September 11th and those candidates need to be campaigning. As a candidate for county office I'm lucky enough to not have a primary challenger, but even if I did I wouldn't have signs out there now. At least for me, summer is the time to work and the fall, after Labor Day, is the time for politics. In the fall you will hopefully see some signs with my name on them, but only on property where I've gotten permission from the landowner and never on public land. I love that this president is trying to affect change from the top down, but like just like 'Trickle Down Economics' hasn't improved our economy, real change and real improvements have to come from the lower/middle class. This fall look for candidates whose proposals and positions are more than, 'I have enough money to buy a bunch of lawn signs so vote for me'."
Amy Gotsill Sheehan writes: "I saw those recently and don't like them because this whole us vs. them thing has undermined the process and made any civil discourse nearly impossible. It has been twisted to the point that you have to almost HATE 'them' in order to be loyal to your party. The entire system is screwed up."
The New Hampshire primary is Sept. 11, with the general election to follow on Nov. 6.