Posts Tagged ‘political ads’

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The Medium or the Message?

November 4, 2007

I arrived home this afternoon to find a political flier near my door.  It wasn’t in my door, nor in my mailbox, it was just near my door, on the floor of the porch, near some pumpkins and mums we have decorating our home for Fall.  Well, OK, it isn’t so much a flier as it is a letter.  No, I don’t think I would call it a letter, it’s more like an announcement.  Let’s not be so polite; it’s a cheaply produced rant printed on inexpensive copy paper.  It may have been printed at a local instant print shop, but somehow, I think they would have produced a higher quality product. 

The medium for this political advertisement is catching my attention but not in a positive way.  In addition to the miserly production values, aesthetics seem to suffer as well.  The font is rather mundane, there is an overuse of underlining, and it seems that once the Caps Lock button was hit, there was no need to touch it again.  There is one bit of interesting copy, and I do mean copy.  A paragraph was photocopied from the local school board minutes, then someone with poor handwriting titled it and underlined what I needs drawn to my attention.  I can see the line created by the cutting, indicating the physical “cut and paste”.  The alignment is skewed so that all of the words appear to be sliding off the page to the right.  I adjust it to keep the words from falling, or to save myself some neck-pain. 

We’re clear? The medium is poorly executed.  So now, let’s look at the content.  Surely something created and distributed so quickly and desperately, just days before the election, must contain a message of extreme importance.  I’m certain that it does, but I’m having trouble getting past the first sentence, a run-on, or in this case an “on-and-on” sentence.

IT MUST BE ELECTION TIME AGAIN, AND JUST LIKE LAST MAY ELECTIONS, SOME SCHOOL DIRECTORS ARE UP TO THE SAME OLD TRICKS, PLAYING DIRTY POLITICS WASTING OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS TO TRY AND INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF THE NOVEMBER SCHOOL DIRECTOR ELECTION.

Is someone in doubt about whether there is an election day in our near future?  It seems obvious to me, just by the sheer number of political signs along the roadsides.  The writer of this political ad seems confused about the pending election.  Does it not occur to this person that the reason they are writing this ad is indeed because there is an election in just two days?  What’s that you say?  Oh, it’s a rhetorical statement?  Hey, did you notice how I turned that rhetoric back onto the writer to make him or her look stupid?  Pretty good trick, huh?

THEY FILED PAPERS IN COURT TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE ELECTION LAST MAY, NOW THEY FILED A COMPLAINT THREE WEEKS BEFORE THIS ELECTION.  TALK ABOUT DIRTY POLITICS.

Who is this mysterious “they” ?  What are these “papers” and the “complaint” ?  This sounds so interesting, but unfortunately, I am expected to know all about these particular lawsuits.  The writer presumes that I will agree that these actions, taken by the local board of school directors, amounts to an attempt to keep this one candidate off of the school board. 

I recall something about the court complaint.  I had to look it up on-line.  From what I read in the newspaper article, it certainly appears the school board has a valid case.  This is not an attempt to prevent an upstanding member of the community from being elected.  This isn’t the standard mudslinging we see in other elections. 

Hey!  Look over there!   The bit that was pasted from the school board minutes shows why “they” are out to get him.  The board voted to have the business manager prepare a budget in which there would be a property tax increase.  What’s that?  That statement has nothing to do with the papers filed in court? Yes, but the names of the directors who voted in favor of preparing a budget that includes a tax increase are underlinedTHAT SHOULD TELL YOU SOMETHINGIt doesn’t? You’re right.  It’s a non sequitur. No, I mean, the linking of the legal action to the directors who voted to explore a budget that includes a property tax increase, that’s the non sequitur.  Pointing to that information, which is public record, is more like a red herring.  Wow, this candidate is good. 

I’ve made it this far through the political ad, I wonder which candidate produced this fine piece of work.  Ah, there it is, and not only is he seeking election as a school director, he’s named in the court complaint because he is a sales associate of the company accused of overcharging and over-selling to the school district, in collusion with a person who is no longer working for the district.  The legal terms for all of that:  breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty; violation of the Pennsylvania anti-bid-rigging act; and violation of civil RICO.

Is it the medium?  What a piece of crap political ad copy.  It’s poorly written and looks like a child taped it together then decorated it with all the skill it takes to draw straight lines.  It might have become garbage sooner than this, but I was curious as to who would distribute this trash.  It took a while to make that discovery.

Is it the message?  I get the message loud and clear.  Someone with questionable business ethics and very little of the skills we are teaching our students in this school district has decided that he’d like to be in charge of their education.  I’ll reserve judgment as to whether he is guilty or not guilty; there are more than enough reasons to deny this candidate’s goal of a seat on the board of directors.  In this case, it’s not a question of the medium OR the message, it’s both.