Collateral (posters, yard signs, fliers and other printed stuff):
Tired of the blitz of campaign signs cluttering the highway? Starting in August, do you hate going to your mail box stuffed with political name calling, back biting and substance-less tirades? Then start spending election season in Pontelandolfo – of course it is not in November. There may be some whispering and cajoling but there is no crush of collateral. The placement of signage is regulated by the commune. I first discovered this in Florence when I was teaching an arts administration course. My students were doing some volunteer work for a theatre company. The goal was to place small posters in as many shops as possible because large posters placed throughout the city had to be approved by the city, a fee paid per poster and – this is the best part – a city employee hung the posters!
When the political posters went up in Pontelandolfo I was surprised to see them all neatly mounted on stone walls adjacent to each other. Each ticket was snugly posted next to another. The posters are large and placed in only a few spots around town. When I asked if the campaigns had to pay the commune, it was explained that political tickets don’t have to pay the posting tariff but the commune still approves the signs and hangs them. What is truly amazing is that except for color the signs all look the same! Ahhh a civil way to post those bills! We still get to look at the beauty that is Pontelandolfo and not political signs flapping in the breeze.
Let’s talk about campaign literature – how the hell can we possibly call the scurrilous crap that fills American mailboxes “literature”? Innuendoes coupled with pictures of politicians looking drunk, dead, demented. Glamour shots merged with tales of perseverance, family and patriotism. The only piece of campaign material that I saw was the Sindaco and List’s “programma” – their platform! That is right – shake your head in disbelief – an actual pamphlet that explained – not just 3 bullet points but explained – each plank. The “Programma Di Governo” of the ticket called “Ricomincio Da Te” included economics, jobs, environment, health, culture, education, police – well you get the point. They actually wrote in complete sentences about issues that really matter – none of this “lower taxes” generic bullshit that I hear in Hillsborough, NJ. This is my cousin Giusy Mancini’s ticket so we are prejudiced – openly and often. The platform was explained and the pamphlet handed out at an evening event in the village’s small theater. I’ll bet over 200 potential voters turned out to hear the candidates and “brava” their support of the platform. Note – the people had to come and pick up the collateral – no one was standing in front of the local grocery waving it at them.
The theater was absolutely packed – to the rafters really – well folks were hanging over the balcony. When we got there a bunch of men were standing outside looking – well just looking. It reminded me of the wild political days of the late 60’s when rooms were packed and the energy was high. People listened, clapped or not, cheered or not and PICKED UP the one piece of literature!
In the spirit of honesty – yes I do have an honest bone or two in my body. I must admit that in other towns in the area – much bigger cities – I did see not only more signs plastered on poles everywhere, but huge billboards on skinny trucks wending their way up cobblestone streets.