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Wednesday 08 October 2008


The Gay Blade

30th July 2008

Hold Your Nose and Vote

Posted by: Michael Stevens

They’re having an election this year, in case you hadn’t noticed. God what a dismal set of options we have before us. As a gay man, there seems to be an expectation that my vote will automatically go to Labour. Indeed, I’ve even been told that I have a duty to vote Labour because they’ve done so much for us. Sorry - that logic doesn’t work for me. My dear old Dad used to insist that  we all had a duty to vote for National as they’d done so much for us, and it’s true, as members of the Eastern Suburbs mercantile bourgeoisie, they had. But I didn’t buy that logic then I don’t buy it now. It’s my vote and I decide how it gets used.

Labour? They seem desperate to stay in power, and willing to do just about anything to do so. But so tired, so arrogant, (witness their indignant howls when the Auditor General demonstrated they’d broken the law) and so out of touch. Plus I don’t recall seeing the EFA on the list of promised policies before the last election, when I did vote for them. If they’d had that on the list I wouldn’t have. Their constant spiteful attacks on John Key for being successful just don’t do it for me either. I know whoever was in power would have cosied up to China, but I find that country as morally bankrupt as apartheid era South Africa. But Labour won’t mention a word on those issues. And really when was the last time anyone in the Labour Party actually laboured?

National? Moving so fast to the centre they’re nearly indistinguishable from Labour on social policies. Economically neo-liberal still (no thanks!) and not really sure how far they can be trusted to do what they say. And look at their front bench - Night of the Living Dead! Lockwood Smith! Maurice Williamson! Toni Ryall! Ugh…

In some ways it seems to me there is almost an absence of politics between the two main parties. There are very few real defining issues that separate them, certainly on social issues. And they are both economically very dry.

Greens? Lovely people, I admit, and honest and reliable, which are attributes not to be dismissed lightly in politics. But I don’t sign up to cults these days, and the Greens’ perpetual battered spouse role to Labour (witness their hand wringing angst every time Labour does the dirty on them, yet they keep coming back for more, because they know, deep down, that really, one day Labour will show how much they love them and let them sit at the big table). I suspect I wouldn’t really want to live in the world the Greens want to bring about: I’ve tried the hippy communal thing and it just isn’t me.

Maori Party? Too homophobic for me - Tariana didn’t support Civil Unions, and again, I don’t sign up for cults. I also don’t go along with the trend that says “Indigenous culture = automatically wonderful”. Indigenous culture is just indigenous culture: it has its pluses and minuses like anything. And I’m not Maori.

NZ First? You’re joking, right?

I know, it’s easy to be cynical, to be dismissive of hardworking good people. And I know people in a number of the parties who are all those things. Sometimes I think if we could get rid of the parties and just vote for the best people… but no, that wouldn’t work either.

Voting often involves going for the least bad option, it certainly does this time round.

I have moved away from my radical Marxist/anarchist ( I was indecisive - sue me) youth where I wanted a revolution that would change the world. More experience of the world, travel, study, and education has taught me that revolutions are nasty, do not achieve what they set out to, and end up fucking up a huge range of people. Except for the few who stay in power at the top.

In some ways it is naive of me to hope for anything really good to come out of any political system. Politics is about the exercise of power, and this always involves making some better off and others worse off. I know I don’t want to be in the worse off group. Who does? But if I am anything I suppose I am a Human Rights hawk, a proud supporter of the best parts of the Western Enlightenment Tradition.

What about the economy? I’d say the global economy is a dog and New Zealand is flea on its back - we go where it goes, and as everything has become more and more globalised, our Government has less and less power to really affect any changes in it. And if we fall off the dog won’t even notice.

It’s all very uninspiring - the parties are all next to hopeless, but I’ll still vote. Because if I don’t I can’t complain. And whoever gets in, you can be sure, I’ll complain.

Tags: General

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Craig Young // Jul 31, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Sorry, Michael, I disagree over the Electoral Finance Act. The Exclusive Brethren’s attempted interference with our last general election meant something needed to be done. Let us not forget that these people are far too close to the National Party for many people’s comfort, and that they actively campaign against relationship and same-sex parenting equality for our communities. And do so through covert financial means. And tried to similarly interfere in last year’s Australian federal elections…

  • 2 Kay // Jul 31, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Was it Winston Churchill who said that democracy is a terrible system, its just that the other choices are worse? When I was young and frivolous I used to vote for McGillicuddy Serious Party - and they did have the best candidates, like Metiria Turei who is now a Green MP.

    These days with MMP my vote may be more important, so I vote for the least bad of the options. As a human rights activist with a preference for doing something about the changes needed to respond to climate change and peak oil sooner rather than later, I have to be a bit more serious about where my vote goes. And when I look at the full line-up of the Parties - not just the leaders - I want to hope that my vote won’t put Judith Collins in as Minister of Welfare.

  • 3 Tony Simpson // Aug 1, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I know that readers will say that I wuld say this because I work in their office as a policy advisor, but I wonder why it is that whenever people think they’ve covered the field of our political parties the poor old Progressive Party gets left out. Jim Anderton has an impeccable record of pro-gltbi voting all the way back to the 1986 legislation (his speech in favour still reads very well) and his party policies have been consistently gay friendly.

  • 4 Wayne // Aug 2, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I wish people would stop going on like the New Zealand political system is awful and that the parties we have are dismall and blah blah blah…

    Get over it! No party is ever going to be perfect otherwise they wouldn’t be run by human beings would they?

    All parties have their flaws and yes they could definitely be better, however I think we should stop bitching so much and be extremely and forever greatful that our country is not run by extremist dictatorships that sentence you to death for being gay, rally people together and brainwash them into thinking that it’s “God’s will” for us to cleans the world of westerners…

    Or hey, better yet, why not be thankful that you have food and somewhere to live and that you can almost guarantee that these things can be taken for granted in New Zealand and not have to spend over 80% of your income every week on simple food such as rice or just struggle ever day just to find food to feed yourself.

    Sort out your priorities. Our country is actually run by good people. Really good people. Be thankful that you actually have the right to vote and to be able vote for whom ever you like as well. Focus on the good things that our New Zealand parties are doing.

  • 5 James // Aug 2, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Yippee Michael, at last someone in our gay community who doesn’t assume I will vote Labour automatically - I have largely voted Labour since the 1986 Law Reform Act, but there is so much more to consider than my human rights. Increasing arrogance is one turn off, bulldozing constitutional change another…among several. The least bad option(s) will get my votes I’m afraid. What a dismal line-up indeed!

  • 6 SG // Aug 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Hey Michael- thanks for that post. Just to set you right on one of your comments: sure, plenty of green voters are hippies, but there are plenty who aren’t. I work in a school of management, for example, my partner and I are both green party members, and I know several of my management school colleagues across the country who consistently vote green, despite working in what many people consider to be politically ‘dark side’ of the university! I vote green because it’s the most ethical party in parliament, has the best environmental policies, is incredibly savvy and sensitive about social justice issues, and has the best internal democratic process (party members have a direct voice in policy formulation). Cheers.

  • 7 Steve Gray // Aug 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    hey Tony,
    Most people find jim Andertons drug policy retarded and damaging to the country

  • 8 Craig Young // Aug 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Although I disagree with Jim Anderton over BZP and retention of cannabis decriminalisation, though, particularly in cases where it might do some palliative good, I think he did right to draw public attention to the dangers of P/crystal meth.

  • 9 antonio // Aug 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Jim Anderton ,the man who despite the majority of public wanting battery egg farming banned ignored this and decided to keep this cruel industry going

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