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Tell It Like It Is

Do We Need Japan’s Laws To Control The Silly Season?




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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Tell It Like It Is
February 2, 2011 | 1430 views | 1 comment

Harlingen, Texas, January 29, 2011: It is hard to get one’s head around the fact that we have become a nation of perpetual political campaigns. They seem to start with a person’s birth and end when the last breath is exhaled.

With the final votes counted for last November’s election, the public should have seen some relief. But, no, no, no...now the media is telling us who will be running for President in 2012. There are even claims that political ads are already being aired on television, though none have appeared on my screen.

All of this political chatter has me reflecting back to the days when our family lived in Japan. This nation, the size of California, has some of the most restrictive political campaign laws found in any democratic society.

In Japan, candidates for public office are restricted in every aspect of campaigning. Though a political party can advertise its position prior to any election, no individual candidate can run ads in newspapers, or radio or television. Law covers the total number and size of campaign posters. No candidate can have name advertising on banners, caps, T-shirts, pins, badges or any other item that might promote candidacy. No candidate can knock on doors of homes or businesses, nor may they enter people’s homes. They may not use the Internet or any social network once a campaign season officially starts...even their supporters cannot mention them on any of the social networks. Thankfully the usual length of the campaign season is only 17 days.

So, how does a candidate get his or her message to the public? In Japan every person running for political office is allowed to have one campaign van. The usual practice is to have it rigged with a powerful public address system with speakers atop the van pointing in every direction. From dawn till dark these vans drive the streets of the country with the PA system at maximum volume and the candidate repeating his or her name and the office being sought over and over again.

The candidate can have an official color. Workers and volunteers can wear shirts and headbands in that color, but no name or message can be printed on those items. The candidate can wear a sash with his or her name printed on it.

When not in that van with loud speakers blaring, the candidates can climb on top of the van and deliver speeches. Most of the time, however, they just keep repeating their names over and over again, along with solicitation of the public vote on Election Day.

When we lived in Japan it was the custom of all candidates to wear white gloves while campaigning. That was thought to be symbolic of a person entering politics with clean hands. That custom has faded away for most of those running for political office today.

Since they are restricted from knocking on doors or entering homes, those seeking office will send volunteers ahead to do the door knocking and ask people to step out of their houses to listen to the candidate.

I sometimes think it would be nice to have a little of the Japanese style campaign brought into our political races. It would stop all our media clutter and put an end to all of those phony campaign promises.

A popular locale for campaigning in Japan is the railroad station. Almost everyone takes the train; making station platforms are an ideal place to find large numbers of people. However, since everyone is in a hurry, no long message is ever offered. It is just the chanting of the candidate’s name and vote for me over and over...and over. But, hey...it is only for 17 days.

Semper Fidelis
 
« Previous Blog Entry (January 28, 2011)
 


Your Opinions and Comments
 
4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
February 3, 2011 3:35pm
 
 
I've often thought that the political season, from start to elections, should be strictly controlled and restricted to about a 3 month period. As soon as the 2010 elections ... Read More Read More
 

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