Politics for the non-politically minded Kiwi
Don’t know about politics? You’re not alone
I have plenty of intelligent, worldly, passionate friends who have no idea who to vote for in this year’s election. And that’s gravy. While voting is important, it’s remarkably difficult to wade through the rivers of information-crap in order to garner any scrap of useful political knowledge. This is my attempt to add some simple perspective.
New Zealand is facing its 162nd year having an official system of government.
We’ve got a whole selection of documents holding our constitution together, consisting of different acts written up in England, here, phrases borrowed from other countries and our own unique agreement: the Treaty of Waitangi.’
All these different acts were slapped together in a hodge-podge consolidation melting pot in 1986 and here we are! A steady, green, beautiful, young and pert country full of gorgeous citizens.
Who knew that stuff? I didn’t. I did some googling and paraphrasing. All the information we need to better arm ourselves with the most powerful tool in the world is right here on the interwebs. Parties, policies, enrollment forms.
So why don’t we read it?
Because it’s drudgery. No matter how much we all want to partake in political dinner discussions, why subject yourself to such a banal exercise?
John Key has been our prime minister for six years now and he hasn’t exploded the country. According to non-reliable ‘news’ sources like stuff.co.nz, he’s the frontrunner to be prime minister again despite what seems like a nationwide agreement that he’s uncool. Public debt has risen $27 million a day since he’s been holding the PM crown, reaching $60 billion last November. I mean, we had the Christchurch earthquake and that accounts for a lot of it surely, but $60 billion is a lot.
Holy shit, I gotta be honest here, I’m boring myself silly thinking about the pros and cons of John Key. If you wanna talk about that, swing to Facebook and scroll down your news feed.
Ha. Puns. Let’s talk about how to change the country for the better.
What’s the biggest issue facing NZ? Unemployment? International debt? Asset sales? Being unprotected from invasion either from a foreign country or space?
No. I think the most dangerous pitfall that Aotearoa faces is the ignorance of its citizens as a collective.
I don’t mean the fact the majority of us can’t name more than four political parties or comment objectively on any of the current bills being discussed in Parliament (although that’s a pretty major worry), I mean the fact that barely anyone I’ve heard speak in the past few months seems to think beyond the next ten years.
Or the fact most people are shocked when they hear about the poverty a huge number of our families are currently experiencing.
I mean, check out this graph!
That intriguing graph aside, here’s a real stat:
Right now, as you’re reading this, more than 260,000 are living in poverty.
That’s over a quarter of the kids in this country who aren’t sure of three proper meals a day and/or don’t have appropriate winter clothing.
As a sufferer of arthritis in my spine, I groan when I look out the window and see rain and a feel a chill because it signifies an oncoming day of pain. But I have shoes to wear and jerseys to don. I even have some stylish scarves that keep my neck warm and my image stunning.
27% of the children in New Zealand don’t have these things. It’s hard to look cool when you’re filling up on the school water fountain because you haven’t had breakfast.
When choosing parties to support, my main angle is the angle of the kids, particularly the ones who are in hardship due to factors outside their control.
Firstly, those hungry kids now will one day be having their own (statistically, probably hungry) kids later and instilling their knowledge (or lack of) into those poor, dry, bitter minds. They didn’t do anything wrong to be punished. They deserve to know they can strive for better but better is hard to achieve when you can’t concentrate in class due to malnutrition.
Backing kiwi kids’ well being in a big way is the Mana Internet party. The top of their policy list is to:
– Establish Government-funded breakfast and lunch programs in all decile 1 and decile 2 schools (A ‘decile’ is the NZ ranking system for the socio-economic populace of schools – Decile 1 and 2 means the ‘poorest’ 20% of schools).
That’s a great start. The downside is that the Internet party (who’ve recently joined forces with the Mana party) was established and is currently headed by Kim dotcom, known to most as freaky German internet guy, and at a recent gathering, Dotcom riled the crowd to chant “Fuck John Key!” which is massively embarrassing and detrimental to any cause he has. Hate does not buy love, Kim.
- The National Party are keen to introduce Performance Pay which will associate teachers’ pay with the performance of their students, offering teachers a monetary incentive to push their kids.
- The Labour Party want to decrease the number of students in the average NZ class by one per year, giving teachers more attention to spend on each individual pupil.
- The Green Party have a holistic plan to make NZ greener, but it may mean sacrificing some international deals and relations, not to mention some creature comforts the majority of us have grown accustomed to.
- The Maori Party want Maori ownership of the foreshore and seabed and while nearly everyone agrees that another of their policies, teaching more Maori and Pacific history in schools, is a crucial step toward a more educated country, it’s a tough sell that a certain race/ethnicity/blood can be entitled to ownership over other citizens purely because of their race/ethnicity/blood.
Let’s not wax lyrical
I could spout on and on about policies all day but I shan’t. I encourage you, as a citizen of this country, to do some googling, watch some videos and read some interviews, and mould your own opinions until you find a party that lines up with your value system.
I know Russell Brand doesn’t vote, but right now it’s the biggest say we have short of storming the Beehive with pitchforks and fury burning in our hearts and that sounds too undignified for the likes of me.
Politics have adopted an unhealthy stigma of whining, insulting, immature sycophants which is unfortunate but reasonable seeing as the ‘highest minds’ of the country fling verbal abuse at each other and lose themselves in concerns over ego as opposed to civilly discussing issues and solutions, so we need each other’s help in reshaping the image of caring about politics. Discuss it with friends. Sharpen your views and arguments. Discover what issues you care deeply about. Speak calmly and without malice which should give you a kick seeing as it’d make you more mature than 121 of the 121 MPs in the House of Representatives.
As my good friend said the other day when confronted with the very common, apathetic view of voting:
“You live in this country. You take daily advantage of the many benefits of living in this country. You have a responsibility to make it the best possible place to live you can for all of its sexy citizens.”
Okay I added the ‘sexy’ bit, but it rings true. You’re all sexy if you’re reading this.
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