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Cheap Printing is Good Politics

With campaign spending through the roof, you gotta wonder what the rest of the world does to keep the election campaign process under control.

I barely have time to stay on top of the news these days, what with the un-graceful fading of the Bush Administration in competition for air time with the election race. And with international news focused on the Middle East, it gets even harder to remember that there's a whole big world out there, full of all kinds of news. But when I hear about a story that's of a particularly interesting nature to printers, I just have to let y'all know about it. So check this out.

In the Philippines, they've got election fever just like we do, but there, elections are strictly regulated by Comelec – the Philippines Commission on Elections. Now, Comelec is all about having a “very orderly and fair” elections process, which means they don't put up with no funny business like we do here in the good old U.S. of A.

Just a few of Comelec's rules involve not allowing campaigning more than 45 days before the election, and NOT allowing postering or advertising outside of designated areas. This wouldn't be very good news for printers in the Philippines, except that no one obeys those rules, and instead campaign posters are going up everywhere all the time. As you can see, there are fans of full color low cost printing all over the world!

In an effort to enforce the no postering rule, Comelec made a big push a few days before the 45-day campaigning period began to get all the posters, banners, and other signs removed from non-designated areas.

My guess is that Comelec is doing this because they don't want the candidates who have all the money and the big support staff to have more access to publicity than the less well-funded candidates. Oh for the days when an overabundance of posters was the only snag in the American electoral process…

This little tidbit of news from the other side of the world is interesting, I think, to those of us who aren't altogether impressed with the billions of dollars funneled into our own election race during what must now be know as “the election years.”

Course, the longer the election, the more work comes down the pipes for printers, which we like very much. The difference here in the U.S. is that only a fraction of a candidate's campaign budget goes to printing. Whereas it was once the ultimate form of political advertising, printing now loses out to TV commercials, and expensive, bandwidth-sucking candidate websites. It's not that less political campaign printing is being done. It's just that it's way cheaper than new fangled media advertising options.

Now, I am a great supporter of the freedom of information now available to us online. Still, there's something about the unbridled grassroots enthusiasm you see on display in the photos of election campaigning in the Philippines that brings me back to a brighter, maybe simpler age of democracy, where people cared enough to turn elections into something more than slick corporate ad campaigns.

And it was cheap! Or at least, it was cheap in a way that we can't even imagine, with the billions spent on campaign advertising, and the race to raise enough money so crazy that they've got us all believing that the old saying “whoever has the gold makes the rules,” is a fact of life.

I don't like it one iota. Great! We have campaign politics on the internet now, but that just costs more. And we've got campaigning two years ahead of time, and THAT just costs more. In fact, it seems like printing is about the only thing left in the entire election campaign process that can still be done on the cheap. The Philippines Commission on Elections should be happy to see those signs pasted up everywhere. Because wherever you see a political campaign sign, you know you've got a budget-conscious candidate trying to connect in the cheapest way possible.

So next time you see some banner up in the street, or yard signs dotting a line, be glad! Be glad that the candidate you are seeing advertised has got the financial sense to use low cost printing as an advertising platform. Because that's how you know a candidate cares where the money's going. And if he or she care while they're running for office, then heck, maybe they'll care when they're in office, too.

grassroots politics

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