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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Left or Right -- What Kind of NZ Do You Want?



Politics.  

Love it or loathe it, all of us are caught up in the political fall out one way or another because as citizens of our country, what happens when those polls close will have an impact on us all.  Some will be happy, some will be disappointed and some probably won't care too much as they go about their daily lives.  

I have had some interesting conversations and online experiences in recent days, two in particular have stuck in my mind.  Both had origins in the #dirtypolitics saga.  One in a cafe with a group of colleagues where one of them made a passing comment that 'well the opposition don't (aka Labour) look like a viable option now do they', and the other with a friend who made a comment about how Labour would have done better if they had picked a leader with 'a spine'.  I suspect the latter comment was an attempt to wind me up!  Now, theres nothing that odd about either comment (I don't agree with them for the record but its still a democratic country so they are entitled to their opinions), but they are interesting in that they come from people who have been left wing, or are left wingers that are attracted to the right wing side.  

It has had me wondering and thinking about the way people view politics, how they vote and which group they fall into - theres a longer post coming that will tease that out a bit more.  More relevantly to this post, it got me wondering WHY do they swing from left to right, or right to left.  It had me looking at my own motivators and my political drivers.  In particular because I struggle to understand a swing from left or right or right to left.  Fundamentally, we are not talking about apples with apples - left dogma vs right dogma is quite philosophically different.  

I appreciate the concept of centre politics muddies the water for those who drift between left and right, and both Labour and National skirt within the boundaries of the centre, which assists in mudding things.   Not because, I think, they believe in the moderate ideas of both left and right but because they are courting the affections of the 'undecided swinger'.  This pretending to be moderate and centralist is incongruous.  It flies in the face of what each party basically believes and I think it confuses voters.  It is beautifully sneaky in that voters are lured into a false ideal of what a party will do or not do.  

I understand how people are sucked into a more moderate approach.  Especially when it comes from the right.  The promise of tax cuts seems alluring, and there have been times when the lefts dogma of equity via taxation (to pay for polices that benefit all of society) leaves me wishing I could keep more of my hard earned dollars.  Tempting as it seems to make a quick vote to the dark side on purely selfish motivations it is squashed when logic returns.  

I am especially surprised when people make their decisions on personality and not policy and political values.  I agree that you need a PM that you like, but it should not be the only factor you hang onto it.  It is how policy that is bad for society happens.  If you are too busy being lured by personality you fail to see the insidious things that are happening around you.  Add in a culture such as has been revealed in #dirtypolitics but is unnoticed by the public and the media, then as a country you are heading toward a disastrous fall.  Left or right, personality reliance is not enough.   It comes down to what motivates you to vote. 

My motivators are simple really.  Despite the lures of tax cuts, pretty baubles and false personalities, I am predestined to vote towards the left.  I believe in fairness, equity and success for all who seek it, not just a handful of high end rollers.  I remember the times when the communities I have worked alongside have been thriving and they are always when the left is in Government.  

If I was tempted this election, I would simply remember the quarter of a million children in our country who are hungry and in poverty.  I would think of the families who are essentially holding down two or more jobs and are the 'working poor', struggling to meet everyday escalating costs.  I would think about the assets we had, but have been sold, and I would remember the many services that have been lost, broken or taken away so that the Government can push its privatisation agenda.  Most importantly, because it is so close to my heart, I would think about how our education system has systematically been undermined, dismantled and neo liberalised.  

These are my bottom lines.  

I would find it hard to live with myself If I allowed myself to be tempted to ever flitter to the other side.  I can't sell my values like that.  Please don't misunderstand me - I have friends and family who vote differently, and we still love each other.  I don't always disagree with particular policy from the right and I don't always agree with the polices of the left.  We live in a democracy and as such, I respect those who think differently to me.  

In my ideal political world we would have bipartisan agreement about the important issues - but until that day, I will fundamentally have to follow what I know is best for everyone, not just me.  

I know what my motivators for the way I vote are and they are born from the work I do and the people I interact with - have you thought of yours?  Do you have a bottom line, or a wider vision for the community you live in and the children who live in our country?  Vote the way you feel is best, because after the 20th of September, it will be too late to have your say.

Left or right, I won't judge - just vote!




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