My favorite T-shirt and baseball cap bear the name of a certain senator from South Dakota who happens to be my homonym. I’ve never met the man but I love the slogan on his campaign material: Tim Johnson – Working Harder, Making a Difference. So I bought the T-shirt and cap through the mail the last time he ran for office, which I think was 2008. I'm sure his campaign workers did a double take when they saw my name on the request.
A lot of people like campaign giveaways, and that is especially true here in Mexico. Candidates wouldn’t draw much in the way of crowds if they didn’t give stuff away.
The video above came out in recent hours. It purports to show a huge warehouse in the capital of Veracruz state, Xalapa, jammed with freebies to give away at campaign appearances by PRI candidates.
The narration is in Spanish but even if you don’t understand it’s worth taking a look at the massive piles of goods, which include umbrellas, boots, raincoats, plastic garbage bins, blankets, plastic chairs, mugs and -- what else? -- T-shirts.
It’s all purportedly for the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidates in Veracruz. But the reality is that all parties are giving away stuff. We can only guess at how much of it is paid off-the-books and away from campaign disclosure laws.