I have always harboured a healthy dislike for politicians but never before have I been as disinclined to vote for either of the major political parties. National is a do nothing government telling us we have a rock star economy, which might be true for the prime minister and his circle of friends, but I work in areas where deep and serious problems around poverty and social dislocation are all too real and getting worse.
Labour acknowledges these problems but its answers seem irrelevant or gimmicky and not systemic. More than this, all of the parties are just so wholly uninspiring. The recent return of Matt McCarten, Jim Anderton, and Richard Prebble is a tired tip of the hat to the old boys’ network. A drab testimony to a complete lack of innovative thinking.
One of the problems, I think, is that we hold politicians in too high a regard. Generally we punish people when they do bad things, but I know a heap of crooks who behave in better ways than those in power. Yip, they might sell drugs or rob the odd bank, but only if you’ve never taken drugs or thought about taking money off your bank can you really throw stones.
Flippancy aside, many crimes that take an inordinate amount of focus, pale in comparison to more important problems or debates like child poverty, polluted rivers, the powers of the GCSB, policies without mandate, and the ballooning gap between rich and poor.
Furthermore, when crooks get caught they are punished, unlike politicians. John Banks can quite obviously lie and still prop up a government. The people of Epsom won’t punish his party (they didn’t when Rodney ‘Perk Buster’ Hide was busted for enjoying taxpayer perks) and return ACT to power.
And this is, at least in part, the problem. Most people feel powerless to punish errant or hopeless politicians but when we get the chance to send a message, we don’t. The problem with politics is that it often trumps principles: ‘I’ll concede on this so I can gain on something else’. We see that as ugly, but as voters we do the same. Epsom is proof of that.
We would all be better off in the long term if Epsom sent ACT – and by implication all politicians – a strong message. That being we demand better.
In fact, it’s more likely some other deal will be made that sees Colin Craig get elected. Colin Craig is without doubt an intellectually bereft idiot - one half laughable, the other half offensive. He has more place on the street selling pencils from a cup ranting about the end of the world than he does sitting in parliament.
The irony is, that if I were in those particular electorates, I’d feel like I’d have something to vote for (or at least against). As it stands I don’t feel I do. And I’m not alone. There is an increasing disillusionment with politics. This is often called apathy. The powers-that-be should hope that it is, and not a simmering disillusionment that could go pop.
I believe in voting, I will make the effort to get to the booth and I will vote for my incumbent MP because I find her excellent – but that’s in spite of her party, not because of it. The party vote I will leave blank, presumably adding to the ‘invalid’ result. Or I’ll vote for the Internet Party. Not because I think Kim Dotcom is the answer, but simply because eating the guts out of a kitten is probably not as cool as it sounds.