voting centers will be opening this saturday, welcoming residents who come determined to choose their mayors and deputies in the municipal elections for the state of mexico. with the exception of presidential elections in the u.s., i've never had an election date so prominently fixed in the forefront of my mind. and i can't even vote.
political campaigns officially ended this weekend with party-flag bearing adherents forming supportive crowds and a collective ear for the candidates' speeches. even those of us who didn't attend were included in the festivities, visual and auditory witnesses to the massive firework displays. campaigns here are big, big deal.
it is an advertising push like no other, promoting both experienced and aspiring politicians through all possible media means: chains of party propaganda strung like chinese lanterns across streets and avenues; virtually any paint-able, vertical surface decorated with names and slogans; banners and billboards designed to acquaint us with faces and claims; airplanes circling overhead with party colors and their designated candidate undulating behind in the sky; automobiles trace through the maze of city streets, color-coordinated with a particular party, plastered with campaign signs and stickers and outfitted with rooftop speakers that blast music and mostly-unintelligible reasons why the public should vote for martin or gabino or sergio; public buses in all shapes and sizes bear everything from stickers to full paint jobs of propaganda; volkswagen vans park in front of schools to hand out notepads and paper, party logos printed on every item. the list is so extensive that i feel bombarded just writing these few examples i've seen myself. and you say, "but what about radio and television?" well, it goes without saying.
i know the names and parties of all the major candidates, including some of the minor party candidates who've formed alliances with the big three: PRI, PAN and PRD. i also know what they say they'll do while in office. what i don't know is if any of them are telling the truth.
political jargon, with its sweeping and superficial claims, is the official language of political campaigns, and had i the right to vote, i'd have a difficult time deciding on a candidate. elections here seem fundamentally based on party rather than individual candidates, which makes sense, given the shady record of many office-holding officials. it makes me wonder, though, why so much empty rhetoric is even necessary. and speaking of rhetoric, in a public display of geekiness i am going to share the propaganda trend that really gets my language- and logic-loving goat.
the popular and fashionable way for a lot of candidates to state their platforms is to declare: my priority is...(fill in the blank). simple, direct and effective, especially if you're constantly in traffic and wondering why you should vote for whom. but! every one of those political hopefuls has at least five priorities to share with their contingent, devoted or prospective. hearing from a single candidate that his priority is the family, his priority is better roads, his priority is youth, his priority is better housing, his priority is reliable city water, and his priority is me, makes me wonder at least two things: if he understands the difference between singular and plural, and if in listing so many obvious needs as his "priority," he has a superman plan of handling them all simultaneously within six years. nicolas romero could use a lot of improvement, but as a realist, i'd rather vote for someone smart enough to know that a priority is just one thing, and if he does has a number of priorities, that he should talk about them as they really are: one in a list that can't all be solved at the same time.
yet even with my geeky beefs and justified skepticism, i'm still better informed and prepared for a local election than i ever was in new mexico or new york. though the national voting institution is still pushing for more citizens to vote--reasoning that voting for the lesser of three evils is still better than not voting at all--mexicans seem to me quite fortunate to have so much campaign information surrounding them. clearly, there is a flip side strategy to it: the more exposure a name gets, the more likely it will garner a few more votes solely on the fact of its ubiquitous presence. nevertheless, i see it as a benefit. if it has succeeded in making me, a milquetoast among the politically-minded, aware of who's running and more or less what they stand for, i'd call it a victory. at least for now, it's the only political victory i have the right to be a part of. the rest will have to wait another two and a half years.
public displays of contention: multiple party propaganda, practically sitting in one another's lap. could it be allegorical?
our first passing propaganda car, it then parked in front of a neighbor's house, leaving the speakers on full-volume while the driver went inside for a coffee break.
a PRI banner, partially covering an old campaign sign painted underneath and promoting the now-current governor of the state of mexico. as the logo space on the left indicates, the green party has formed an alliance with the PRI. i'm not sure yet how i feel about it, though i'm coming fairly close.
even road banks prove to be ideal canvases, urging voters to get out of the house on march 12. patricio will be among the millions of mexiquenses exercising his right, though he'll be voting in tlalnepantla, which, understandably is his social, familial and political home base