Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am disillusioned with New Zealand politics

After the result of the US elections yesterday, the upcoming New Zealand election on Saturday just seems so unexciting.

As a columnist in the local newspaper, Rosemary McLeod, wrote in The Press today:

"I'll be voting without passion on Saturday. ... What would it take to make me think highly of politics? Some real idealism would be a start. I'd like to hear from politicians who looked to principle before pragmatism; who believed in something they could put a name to other than self interest, power for power's sake, waffly generalities that could mean anything, demonising other sections of society, or scaremongering. ... they wouldn't focus on punishing vile wrongdoers at the expense of elevating the unfortunate. They wouldn't talk about family as if they had a monopoly on the subject, or as if family could only mean one thing, or indulge in doom-saying and breast-beating about the state of the planet as if it was dead already. They'd believe so strongly in equality of opportunity and access to help for everyone that they'd make it happen. Idealism is great. ...
We are a weird little country, and getting weirder. Our politics are not uplifting. We know everyone, the bullies and the swots, the prefects and the ratbags who smoke dak in the toilets. And this time next week there'll be a bunch of new entrants. Maybe there'll be a future leader among them. Maybe the country will become a better place for their arrival. Maybe a lot of things, but mostly, I reckon, maybe not."

Having just come home from the central city, where I came across several parties doing their thing in Cathedral Square, including John Key, leader of the National Party, leader of the Opposition, who is probably going to become Prime Minister on Saturday - I CONCUR.

Labour Party supporters, wearing red t-shirts, trying to shout down the National supporters. They soon become very, very tiresome. I say to one of them - "you know, I hate National too, but you're actually making me hate National less." She looks a bit embarrassed and promises they won't shout when John Key speaks - a promise that is not kept.

John Key arrives, an hour late. He walks straight to the media, and starts shouting into the microphone about how America has voted in change, and New Zealand will vote for change too on Saturday. It's rather ironic considering Key has much more in common with McCain than Obama. He insults Labour, thanks his supporters - a crowd of business suits - and then it's all over.
Uh-uh, John. I didn't wait in the rain for an hour to hear you tell me you are going to win and that's all there is to it. I wanted to be persuaded, to be convinced, and you didn't deliver.

The two major parties of New Zealand are disappointing. I will vote on Saturday, but as Rosemary McLeod wrote, I'm not voting with any enthusiasm. I will be disappointed if the wrong people win, but I won't feel like it's the end of the world.

Surprisingly, as I stand listening to the Green Party - the party of environmental concern, legalisation of marijuana, and social engineering of whom I am usually very suspicious - I am nothing but impressed. Their leaders are there, available. They point out errors in the political practice of other parties, but without malice. They hand the microphone around the crowd, and answer any questions that are put to them, respectfully and sensibly. Above all, they are dignified, idealistic, articulate and passionate. Although I don't agree with everything they stand for, they have made me wonder if perhaps I would rather have people in power, or influencing power in a coalition government, who care more passionately about the future and people of this country than in scoring points off the other parties.

Well, I don't know. I'll be thinking a lot about it over the next two days. Who knows? I may completely shock myself and vote Green.

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