Political Jingles

Erik

Brazil has a strict limit on political campaign seasons. Unlike in the United States, politicians here have three short months to drum up support. Now that we’re now less than a month away from federal and state elections, though, campaigns are at a fever pitch.

I’m not plugged into radio or television here, so my experience with campaign strategies has been on the street. There’s one in particular that I’m glad has died in the U.S.: the political jingle.

The candidates for governor, senator, representative – everyone has a jingle. Even Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent in the presidential race, has one. All of them seem to have followed the same basic set of steps:


 Step One

Write a song saying that you’ll create jobs, fight crime, and invest in education and health. Use the words for “people” (“povo” and “gente“) as much as possible. Repeat your name and number until you beat it into people’s brains.

Step Two

Set the words to some folksy music. Here in Teresina, the favorite style is forró, with a group of singers backed up by accordion, guitar, triangle, and drum.

Step Three

Blast the music from speakers on pick-ups plastered with your image.


This gets us to another difference between the elections in the U.S. and Brazil. As far as I know, the drivers of these trucks have no real attachment to the parties or candidates that they’re promoting. It’s just another job. The same goes for the people who hand out pamphlets, who set out folding signs on medians, or who stand with political banners on busy streets.

Though there’s a lot that’s wrong with political campaigns in the U.S. (for one, how they’re financed), I have a new appreciation for how much is done by volunteers.

It can be irritating to have strangers call you or knock on your door in the months leading up to an election. But it’s amazing to think that most of them are doing these unpleasant jobs not for their own benefit, but because they believe it’ll bring about positive change in their communities. I’d say that’s something that we should be grateful for.