Why is that nothing seems to divide our nation more than a General Election? In the aftermath of our recent 2017 election I am left feeling indescribably sad and not for the reasons that many might think. It’s not because the party I voted for didn’t win or because it looks as if we’ll have to wait for Winston Peters to make up his mind about his bottom line baubles. In fact it isn’t anything to do with the parties themselves or their leaders. Apart from Winston Peters and the pension overpayment which looked to be more an administrative error than the “Mother of all Scandals”, there was nothing like the dirty politics drama we had to put up with during the last election. The leaders put their points across with passion but at the same time were able to maintain a healthy respect for their counterparts in the opposing corner. Hats off to them, but not so their supporters.
To listen to or to read online comments from the Left vs Right supporters, one could be forgiven for thinking we have been transported back some 80 odd years to the midst of the Spanish Civil War rather than partaking in a democratic process between two parties: one from the centre right and the other from the centre left. As much as the dyed in the wool brigade of followers from either side might hate to hear this, there is not exactly a yawning chasm between the two in this country. However after 57 years of living in a civilised democracy I have never been one of those people who expect a life changing metamorphosis to take place as soon as there is a change of government. Cue for the aggrieved to launch into a self-righteous whinge about NZ not being a civilised democracy under __________ (insert name of party you don’t support).
It would be an interesting ‘party’ game to take all the policy promises we’ve had during this campaign (and there were plenty!), put them into a hat and prior to their official release, have Bill and Jacinda draw them at random and earnestly read them out to the voting public. I can see those from the red corner nodding sagely in agreement if Jacinda were to deliver one of Bill’s contributions whilst the blue corner plunge fathoms deep into a maelstrom of outrage and angst over her lack of experience and understanding. Each reaction based on nothing more than their own bias which in many cases has been handed down through family for generations, and sometimes without even taking the time to at least listen to or consider any other alternatives.
The media hasn’t helped this and neither has the anonymity of using social media to vent ones spleen and to make sometimes utterly vile and hurtful comments that I would like to think any caring human being would never make in person. Not all, but the majority of these inflammatory articles have a sensational headline with very little content (some of which is completely false) and are only published to prompt faceless keyboard warriors to respond to something that, aside from the headline, often they’ve quite obviously not read at all. Yet they are unrelenting in their ego-based comments, all the while making quite clear their need to be right (right as in correct, before anyone jumps in), sometimes in the same breath as talking about compassion and co-operation. It’s almost funny, but it isn’t. Is this approach actually going to change anyone’s thinking one jot? Human nature being what it is I suspect it’s more likely to have completely the reverse effect! I know it does with me anyway.
There are too many bees under voters bonnets it seems, regardless of whether the bonnet they wear is red or blue. But like it or not we’re all in this together and I don’t think for one moment that any one of the individuals we have in political office in this country get up in the morning to formulate schemes as to how they can fuck up the country that they and their family live in. They might have different ideas about how they want to run things and it might not be your way but take a moment to step back and show some respect and understanding for these people … all of them, even if they might not look, smell or act like you. They may be fat, they may have big teeth, they may be rich or have been on a benefit, they may even make the odd mistake. In other words … just like us! And like us, they all come from different backgrounds and upbringings but isn’t that the way it should be? Shouldn’t we celebrate that rather than shriek our disapproval?
I’ve had my rant about why I’m feeling so sad. Maybe Russell Brand was right about not voting at all because this left/right (perceived) dichotomy divides us somehow. Shouldn’t this marvellous thing called democracy unite us? It would be naive to suggest that the best people should take charge of the areas in which they have the most capability and knowledge as it would encompass representatives across nearly all the parties and how would they be selected? So I guess we’re stuck with waiting for a guy who 92.5% of the voting public didn’t vote for to make up his mind and getting inundated with potential scenarios for a few more weeks to come!