Home > Uncategorized > A Note on Signs/Mike Cardiff is a Dick

A Note on Signs/Mike Cardiff is a Dick

Serendipitously, I find myself smack-bang in the midst of local body election season in New Zealand which means campaign signs are a ubiquitous feature on this country’s storied landscape.

As noted in an earlier post, I have a colorful past with respect to election signs, which is a bit like Slobodan Milosevic describing as “complicated” his history with Kosovo; that is to say, it has been steeped in violent destruction. Hoardings were never my preferred outlet for creative political expression –I preferred the direct mail letter or DL brochure — but they were, in my late teens and early twenties, gratifying targets for my unspent and unresolved tensions. I could demolish a National Party sign with the kind of efficient brutality of a non-World Cup year All Black tight-five.

Two decades on, I would no more non-metaphorically deconstruct an carefully-erected election-year sign than I would cup Michelle Grattan’s tender breasts in my loving hands. But they will amuse me till the day I die (election signs, I mean: Grattan’s boobs make me sad).

My favourite so far this campaign are the signs promoting the candidacy for the Kapiti District Council of Mr. Mike Cardiff. (Or it could be Mike Glasgow — my confusion over the matter of his surname speaks volumes about the efficacy of said posters, not to mention care factor).

Mr. Cardiff (or Swansea) appears to be running a very well-funded campaign which is odd since he claims to have worked as senior management in local government for 30 years. Long-service in NZ councils does not typically generate the kind of dough that bankrolls Perot/Bloomberg-style insurrections, so Cardiff’s campaign is suspiciously well-resourced. Perhaps Cardiff has a wealthy benefactor (let’s face it: this is not a town short on widows) or his wife is the daughter of a wildly successful sheep breeder or bungee cord manufacturer. I am absolutely certain of one thing: the cash does not come in the form of small donations by a wave of enthusiastic grass-roots and online supporters inspired by his powerful campaign message.

How can I be so sure? Well, because his campaign is completely uninspiring and his message is about as powerful as the lungs of an asthmatic 12-year old girl. At high altitude. After netball practice.

As you know, I operate this blog on the TOTA principle (there or thereabouts, for newcomers) so I have not committed the content of Mike Cardiff’s (or Inverness’) campaign posters to memory but I remember this much: they are laid out in the form of a series of bullet points. This is an odd approach to signage in a corner of the world where exceptionally good eyesight is not a common complaint (although drive-by, leisurely reading is a possibility). The top-two bullet-points read like this:

Cost-effective Change
Affordable Vision

There are a few more, but I was so blown away by the first two that I couldn’t summon the energy to finish reading the list (and I was walking too fast). At a guess, the full Cardiff platform might be something along these lines:

Cost-effective change
Affordable Vision
Decaffeinated coffee
Managed fun
Sex without penetration

This is an incredibly bad approach to messaging. Stern ambivalence works well in German philosophy, but it will surprise nobody thatt German philosophers have a terrible record in New Zealand local government elections.

Imagine how this hard-line equivocation would have transformed the great political slogans of history.

Yes, we can — with the right combination of luck and hard work!

I still believe in a place called Hope — and its neighboring town, Sensibleness!

I have a realistic dream!

We will fight them on the beaches, logistical considerations notwithstanding!

Another note on this silly candidacy: Cardiff was, for thirty years, a manager in local Councils, ending his career as a Parks and Recreation manager. He is now running on a platform of rate-cutting “common sense” (the ultimate dog-whistle phrase). In response, I would say “don’t make me laugh”,but that ship has long sailed.

No Parks and Recreation manager in the history of local government in this country or any other has ever, once, not even in the snarling teeth of the Great Depression, submitted a budget of a lesser dollar value than the previous year’s. Whatever his wordy billboard would have you believe, an ex-parks manager’s election manifesto of budget-slashing and fiscal parsimony has all the credibility of Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Taliban-sanctioned Arabic edition.

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