Adventures in Politics - why the old and dull vote

by - Saturday, December 03, 2011

currently: forgive me that this post is a bit late. Trying my hardest to keep updated, I swear!


Politics is not the sort of subject that people typically admire. I for one knew that it was something only old people in their 50s seemed to enjoy. They'd be the sort of people that whinge and whine over taxes and welfare and all that boring stuff. And whenever they say something like "I like talking about politics", they're instantly labelled the boring guy of the party.

I avoided enrolling to vote until I was just a few months over 18. In New Zealand, you're allowed to enrol at 17, and required to by 18. If I had the choice, I wouldn't have enrolled at all, but when my mum tells me I have to enrol, and when the Government tells me I'll be fined $10,000 if I don't enrol - well you enrol. (It's cause I fear punishment 'respect' these groups.)

Anyway, enrolling did not provide any joy to me. Firstly I did not like any of the candidates in the Supercity mayor elections, nor support the Supercity idea for Auckland. So I didn't vote.

And then in January I got called up for jury duty, thanks to my enrolment providing fresh meat to the jury list. The only perk I received from that was receiving pay for sitting around in a cold windowless room for six hours.

As you can see, enrolling seemed to provide little benefit to me.


Then I started working at an Australian news company* where I spend hours following Australian news on a daily basis. I hear all the annoying whinging and moaning about carbon tax this, or Federal budget that**. So not through my own will, I was learning about politics.

With that being said, you'd think I'd hate NZ politics more. Listening to it at work for eight hours, then listening to it at home for another two hours could sound like a torturous day. But it's not anymore. Why? I don't know; maybe it's cause NZ problems don't stack up to Aussie's problems. Maybe it's cause two hours of NZ is better than eight hour of Australia (this is most likely the reason). Either way, I got interested. While at work I'd read up on policies, study info graphics - essentially become a political nerd.

If you told me six months ago that I'd actually bother to vote, I'd laugh. But last Saturday, I actually did it. As I stood in the polling booth, I realised that my vote was going to to contribute to how we in New Zealand lived. That I was going to be part of the statistics. As I stared at my voting sheet, I suddenly had a moment where I I thought to myself, "well I better not stuff this up now..."

I watched most of the election coverage that night. It's kind of fascinating to see the results come in, especially when you have results like that "dead heat" in Christchurch Central (really, what are the odds that two people can have 10,483 votes each?) The results brought joy to some people, yet disappointment to others. And even though one million people in the country didn't bother to vote, for everyone else, the one vote contributed to something big.

So you know what? I'm glad I voted. It gives me the right to have an opinion on what goes on in our government, and it gets me to understand what's happening in the world around me. To essentially understand that things are bigger than myself. This is probably why voting in elections is more an adult thing, cause let's be honest, majority of young people are pretty selfish and don't care for the wider picture. I know cause I was like that at times.

With all that down in the past, I'll know I'll vote again. I know I'll need to. Cause if no one does - it's not democracy, it's plain not caring. And I do care about my future.

But that being said, I don't want to be called up for jury duty again.



(*not actual name.)
(**this is nothing against Australians. It's just not pleasant to repeatedly listen to their issues).

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