When I take Brian and his friend Lucas to school in the morning, we drive by a very large political yard sign for a Republican candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives named Matt Bentley. In and of itself, this is not that unusual. There are signs on most every yard on this particular road. And yes, the vast majority of them are for Republicans of some sort. It’s certainly the neighborhood for it.
What was remarkable about this one was the blatant use of the image on the sign. The picture is of the aforementioned Matt Bentley and his wife and infant baby girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the picture. In fact, it’s a very good picture, and one they probably proudly hang in their own living room. But there’s something about the picture being used how it’s being used.
In what way does the idea that he has a wife and baby girl translate to his possible success in the Georgia House? The little baby is cute and the wife is attractive. Ok, I’ll give you that. But even that is not what the actual picture is about. It’s meant to play off of the “family” nature of this particular man. The “family values” vote is what’s being targeted here, I’m sure.
But, is that qualification enough? What are his motivations? What’s his platform? What does he believe in?
(Oh there they are, hidden in the darkness of the black couch: “Lower taxes”, “Less government”, and “More Jobs”. Really checking off the Republican talking points on that one, huh?)
Does anyone care about those things? Or is it simply because he’s a “family man”? Or could it be because they’re a white family? A heterosexual family? Man, woman, and child = healthy living, right? I mean, where’s the dog? The white picket fence?
(Oh wait, I just saw the dog’s head. Now it’s complete.)
Imagine for a second that this family was not a straight, white family with a dog. Imagine if the wife was a husband. Would that family be “suitable” for a sign? What if Mr. Matt Bentley was bald because he had cancer? What if he had tattoos? What if his wife was African American? Muslim? Japanese? Nigerian?
Would that matter?
I understand and firmly believe that it should absolutely not matter. But does it? Given the location of this particular sign and the neighborhood I’m driving in when I pass this sign, I’m guessing it matters a great deal.
And that makes me sad.
P.S. I don’t know Matt Bentley at all, or his family. This is in no way a condemnation of him, personally. This is really a commentary on society and the current social norms, specifically in Georgia.