Our home country of New Zealand is currently riding the election campaign wave, in the lead-up to next month’s election. The media coverage of it has been not dissimilar than the fiasco we saw with the US election last year, where stories were about the less important aspects of the race, giving platforms to bickering and pettiness, rather than policy and constructive thinking.
I have always held a bit of a left/socialist view of the world, where people should be treated equal, where the small shouldn’t be stood on/exploited by the big. You can get a feeling of that in my ethical fashion series What In The World, and also in my Sixth Form speech titled ‘Don’t Judge Me’. Previously I didn’t think that made me ‘politcial’ per se, just a scrappy teen who cared about other people, and standing up and shouting on behalf of the little guy (even if I’m a ‘little guy’ myself).
But recently I realised that it is near impossible to NOT be political. Or to NOT have an interest in politics. Because every single part of modern society, i.e. the world we live in, is linked in some way to legislation, law and welfare, and therefore, to politics. I also noticed that in the face of some pretty important decisions and discussions (which are getting more and more crucial as we get closer to September 23rd), the social platforms we the public choose to engage on were low on political discussion. Which then made me realise that platforms like Facebook are the online equivalent of an IRL dinner party. For the most part the hairy and scary are left at the door, and we’ll discuss the safe and pretty instead. This started to irk me for the reason that it’d be pretty disappointing if people somehow missed the importance of voting, and of knowing what was happening in their home country, because we’re not talking about it online. If I have to be the one to say the things, then I’ll say the things. Happy to, in fact!
I’ve voted in every election I was old enough to, as my Mum always pushed the importance of voting, and she’s often been involved as a voting-day volunteer. But I would say that it was only this year’s election where I fine-toothed my way through the policies of every major party, thanks to the brilliant Policy site by The Spinoff, and got familiar with the offerings. I have never been on the fence about how I vote, but it was good to widen my view to the other parties that I would otherwise ignore due to personal feelings about their leaders. And come to think of it, my ‘personal feelings’ about the other leaders have probably been highly influenced by late night listenings to Bomber’s show on the Channel Z radio station as a teen, and by absorbing political cartoons from the paper growing up, which had more to do with my love of comic-style art, than anything else.
So to my fellow NZ friends (both at home and abroad), I implore you to set a little time aside to get familiar with what is going on both in the political policies space and for NZ in general, by visiting sites like Policy and reading the local news (maybe not Stuff though, ugh.) Maybe just pick one thing that you really care about the future of, and find out what is going on in that space, and see which political party is putting forward policies to bring the change you’d like to see. Be it mental health, the environment, the housing crisis, immigration…. There’s got to be something that you care about that is in danger of taking a wrong turn, should the wrong policies be put in place. Choose it, own it, fight for it.
See you at the polling booths in September!